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"They possess more than they can spend."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 53

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


53

If I have just an ounce of sense,

I follow the great Way,

And fear only to stray from it.

The great Way is very straight,

But people prefer to deviate.


When the palace is magnificent,

The fields are filled with weeds,

And the granaries are empty.

Some have lavish garments,

Carry sharp swords,

And feast on food and drink.

They possess more than they can spend.

This is called the vanity of robbers.


It is certainly not the Way.



Robbery

Lao Tzu ends this chapter with what is also a joke. Robber, tao, is pronounced the same as Tao, the Way. But indeed, they are not the same. Lao Tzu deplores those who keep to themselves much more than they could ever consume. To him, that's robbery. Sadly, such robbers take pride in their gluttony.

       In this respect, nothing has changed since the days of Lao Tzu. There are still those who have much more than they can spend, although they try hard with meaningless luxury, while there are many others who don't have even nearly enough. Those who follow the Way weep over this.

       It must have been a daring statement by a man living in ancient China, where those who were rich had all the sharp swords at their command, and didn't hesitate to use them.

       According to the legend, Lao Tzu wrote his book upon leaving the country for good. That may have given him the courage to be this outspoken. It's still impressive that such hard words about the ruling classes were passed on through the centuries.

       Again, he speaks with a voice near that of Jesus, who said that it's more difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of God than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Their sense of humor in dealing with the subject is also related. But Jesus was not subsequently leaving the country, so his fate was a different one.

       Those in power are quite touchy when their wealth and privileges are questioned.

© Stefan Stenudd.

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Tao Te Ching Explained


Preface


Introduction


Literature


The 81 Chapters of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
translated and explained by Stefan Stenudd.
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Tao Te Ching Explained


James Legge's Tao Te Ching


Aleister Crowley's Tao Te Ching


The 1st Chapter of Tao Te Ching in 76 Versions


Lao Tzu - Legendary Author of Tao Te Ching





My Taoism Books:


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

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I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.

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