Chapter of the Week: #46 [Archive]

I've always read the second noble truth as 'desire' is the cause of suffering. Here you use lust, and though it means the same thing, funny how seeing a different word used makes me think of it differently, approach it from a different direction.
Of course, lust is most often associated with sexual urges (at least to me, but then i probably associate too much with sexual urges...), but what is lust but desire. Think of the Van Gogh bio 'Lust for Life'...
anyway, just more food for thought for me-thanks, it's dinnertime, and food for thought is my favorite meal...


  • edited June 2006
    Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. Chapter 46 was originally featured on the 4th week in November.

    Note: The Tao Te Ching can be obscure, especially if you think you're supposed to understand what it's saying! We find it easier and more instructive to simply contemplate how the chapter resonates with your personal experience. Becoming more aware at this fundamental level simplifies life. This approach conforms to the view that true knowing lies within ourselves. Thus, when a passage in the scripture resonates, you've found your inner truth. The same applies for when it evokes a question; questions are the grist for self realization.

    Chapter 46
    When the way prevails in the empire, fleet-footed horses are relegated to
    ploughing the fields; when the way does not prevail in the empire, war-horses
    breed on the border.

    There is no crime greater than having too many desires;
    There is no disaster greater than not being content;
    There is no misfortune greater than being covetous.

    Hence in being content, one will always have enough.
  • edited December 1969
    When the way prevails in the empire, etc., sounds at first like war-horses are not part of the way. This would be as incomprehensible to me as if it said that when the way prevails ... there would be no 'yang' situations, like war... only 'yin' situations, like peace would prevail. There'd be no volcanos, super novas, tornados...ha! Such nonsense, for [chref=34]the way is broad, reaching left as well as right.[/chref]. I correlate left with 'yin' and right with 'yang', but visa versa is okay too; it's all in the eye of the beholder.

    That said, I find this view true in a personal way. Thus, when the way prevails in my awareness, I'm much less likely to be over-active ('yang'). The way prevails in awareness when my perspective is [chref=34]is broad, reaching left as well as right.[/chref] Reaching left as well as right is not only reaching beyond my political biases, but all my biases; [chref=79]it is the way of heaven to show no favoritism.[/chref] Of course that's easier said than done, but then that's what growing up is really about... for me.

    The irony of being covetous, not being content, having too many desires, is that when these emotions are 'turned on', our rational ability to know and accept this obvious observation is 'turned off'. I've circumvented some of this problem by 'burning' this obvious observation into my mind over the years. [chref=64]Deal with a thing while it is still nothing[/chref] gradually instills an intuitive sense of balance which seeps through into awareness even when the emotions are 'on'.
  • edited December 1969
    Reminds me of a discussion i had many years ago with my 'guru' (a good friend, very wise and troubled, who'd studied with Krishnamurti)-I asked him if he was ever happy, and he said 'no, but i'm occasionally content'. Didnt understand it then, do now, but i'm still happy now and then.
  • JoeJoe
    edited December 1969
    Chapt. 46

    For me, when the way prevails I'm more likely to see the reality of whatever situations come up. And act accordingly, which is in a more moderate, thoughtful manner. When the way doesn't prevail, then I'm much more focused solely on whatever desire has grabbed ahold of me. For example, a family member may forget to do something important, which then creates a problem I have to deal with. If internally I am centered, content, then I'm more likely to calmly express my perspective on the situation, telling the person how it effects me. We can discuss ways to try to avoid the problem in the future. If war-horses are breeding, which can be my emotions taking hold, and my desire to have the situation be perfect overrides rationality, I'm more likely just to vent anger, criticizing the other person, and generally making us both feel bad, without really getting the reality of the situation dealt with.

    The trick with not having too many desires, is figuring out what desires work OK in moderation. We all have to eat, rest, etc. If I watch a video, am I taking a break to relax, am I avoiding fixing something around the house, or running away from my worries about finances? ONe of the things I'm finding is that totally focusing on what's happening in the moment, helps clue me in to what's really happening inside myself. Not being content, being covetous, all stem from something uncomfortable inside myself. Unfortunately, if I'm so focused on something happening a certain way, where I shut out everything else, then I'm usually unable to recognize that I'm not at all content, I'm covetous of some thing that I want, and I then have a very hard time acknowledging other people's perspectives. Compassion can certainly go right out the window.

    It's funny how being content is often seen as fulfillment of desire, i.e. being content after a big Thanksgiving meal. I understand contentment as having enough, because I desire very little. The problem is, there are so many times when I desire a lot. Not just desiring, say, a comfortable new house, but desiring understanding from people I talk to, desiring closeness to others and yet wanting alonetime, when I want it. This is one of those chapters that so exemplifies that the sage's words are easy to understand, yet few can put them into practice.
  • edited December 1969
    My war horses have been breeding way too often lately-emotional flare ups, losing rationality, as Joe says, sounds very familiar. I try to avoid this, especially around my boy who has such an unstable environment at his other house, but i fail now & then...better than i used to be, for sure, but still...
    Also at work, with frustrating special needs kids (and sometimes i think 'special needs' coworkers) my rep has long been made as one who 'blows up', not a rep i'm proud of, and not one I live up to as often anymore...
    I truly hope and believe getting back into the Eastern religions, meditating, learning to relax again and rediscover a calm place within me will help, as it has in the past. I've avoided this for years, I dont know why, but I've paid greatly for this avoidance. Finding this site has already helped some, up to me to do the rest now.
  • edited December 1969
    I remember playing an old DOS computer game called Civilization (the original 320x240 graphics version) where you start with a single small town and have to build and manage your empire and spread across the world. Anyway, each town displayed an icon depicting how happy the population was: happy, content, or unhappy. Now, of course, the idea is to keep your population happy -- happy people produce more, etc. -- but I always thought that the idea was to keep the population *content*, that something in the middle of happy and unhappy would be best! :lol: Of course, in the game, that was a bit silly -- to win, you have to keep your population not just content, but happy -- but what about in real life?

    Too often we strive for happiness to the extreme. Thus, we try so hard for happiness that a lot of trial and suffering goes into that 'push for happiness'. We spend so much time racing ahead looking for happiness that by the time we get where we were wanting to go, we've forgotten why we went there in the first place, and it's off to the next big thing. Does this make sense?

    Sometimes I'm torn between trying too hard for something way out there in the future and forgetting about the here and now, and not trying hard enough and 'wasting time'. Than again, when I'm 'wasting time', am I really in the "now" or an I just racing ahead in this little brain of mine, or in whatever little pointless thing I'm doing? OK, I think I'm rambling now, time to sign off.
  • edited December 1969
    and one thing at a time. I have to tell myself this constantly. and that whatever I'm doing right now, is the most important thing i'll ever do. and whomever I'm speaking to is the most important person, to do otherwise is disrepesctful. this keeps me focused, and keeps me from reacting to and judging people by age, sex, looks, etc...or worrrying about the fabled 'future'
    "Before I was enlightened I ate my rice and washed my bowl. After i was enlightened, I ate my rice and washed my bowl." I tell this to most people, and they look at me, heads cocked, like a dog does. LOL
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