"Those who know when to halt are unharmed."
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 44
The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained
Your name or your body,
What is dearer?
Your body or your wealth,
What is worthier?
Gain or loss,
What is worse?
Greed is costly.
Assembled fortunes are lost.
Those who are content suffer no disgrace.
Those who know when to halt are unharmed.
They last long.
Life Is the Treasure
What we know of is this life we are born into.
Everything else is uncertain. So, why do we risk it by filling it
with things that we don't really need? The only real treasure
is life itself. Nothing else can possibly compare to it, much
less surpass it.
But we easily forget that, when pursuing one or
other superficial happiness.
True, it has merit to value one's name enough to
make sure that others do it, too. With our words and deeds
we decide how others will value us. Lao Tzu would add
that our silence and the things we refrain from doing will
influence our reputation even more.
On the other hand, when we make it our quest to
reach fame and to receive praise that far exceeds what others
get, then we put ourselves at risk, and forget that our names
can never be more precious than our lives.
It's even more absurd when we devote our lives to
assembling riches. When struggling to gather and keep a
fortune, where's the time to enjoy it? You can't take it with
you when you die. So, you risk spending your life chasing
a longing that is never satisfied. Anybody pursuing that
path is a victim of the fact that with wealth, there is
So, when you gain you are not pleased, and when
you lose you are not pleased. Where's the pleasure? Greed
is costly on one's peace of mind, and there is no reward for
it. If you get rich enough, your name may be known and
uttered with respect, even for generations to come. But
your own life is pawned.
Enough is enough, and that's surprisingly little.
When we are aware of this, we are practically invulnerable.
This we can only be if we learn to value the fundamental
asset we are given by living. Even in meager circumstances,
our opportunities for great experiences and a truly rich life
are as good as limitless.
© Stefan Stenudd.
Tao Te Ching Explained
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