Beware Of Emotion

Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. 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 50
When going one way means life and going the other means death, three in ten
will be comrades of life, three in ten will be comrades in death, and there are
those who value life and as a result move into the realm of death, and these
number three in ten. Why is this so? Because they set too much store by life. I
have heard it said that one who excels in safeguarding his own life does not
meet with rhinoceros or tiger when traveling on land nor is he touched by
weapons when charging into an army. There is nowhere for the rhinoceros to
pitch its horn; there is nowhere for the tiger to place its claws; there is
nowhere for the weapon to lodge its blade. Why is this so? Because for him
there is no realm of death.

Read commentary previously posted for this chapter.


  • edited December 1969
    My mother saw a PBS show on the 'health' of the planet earth, and how human activity is messing it up. I said that this is just Nature at work. After all, aren't we just animals, no different - truly - from any other on the planet? Monkeys, rabbit, ants... any creature would be doing the same thing giving the capability. All life is driven by self interest (survival) not 'global' interests. Her response was that we humans 'should' know better! Should? :?

    Clearly, we believe that our ability to think 'whatever' endows us with the ability to do 'whatever', and thus the word 'should'. Of course, this view lies at the heart of Judeo-Christian-Islamic theology. And, it is at least implied in all the other religions. However, all the evidence points to just the opposite, as far as I can see, e.g., in my own life, in what I see of other people's lives, and historically from the neolithic times up to the present. Thus, I can only conclude that those who see the world through 'should' colored glasses have an emotional need to see life in an idealized way, despite any evidence to the contrary. Example abound; take a moment and ponder some from your experience. :wink:

    So, emotions drive my mother to believe that if she thinks 'it' is so, 'it' is so! So how about me? Maybe I'm being deceived by my emotions and driven to see 'it' my way. How do I know I'm seeing it as it is, and not as just a reflection of what I want to see? Good question to which I must say, I don't know. But, as least I admit that, which suggests that I don't have as much emotional stake in the issue, one way or the other. However, I do have an emotional stake in honesty. I seriously want to see 'it' as 'it' is. Not only that, I want to [chref=65]conform [/chref] to 'it'. Be [chref=39]One[/chref] with 'it'. To see 'it' as 'it' is, and conform to 'it', I must be awake and honest enough to notice my emotional present - moment to moment. Only when I care enough to not care, am I able to step [chref=40]back[/chref] enough to see 'it'. Ironic.

    Not surprisingly, I long saw the world as my mother does. For 40 years I believed we were different from animals. :oops: Then I started looking for some evidence. Sure, I saw plenty of superficial evidence of difference, e.g., we live in houses, worms live in the ground, squirrels live in trees. But, we approach life the same way as animals. As far as I can see, we just think we are different. And indeed, that is the one thing that is unique about humans. We think, and end up believing what we think. That is why we say, [chref=71]to know yet to think that one does not know is best; not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty.[/chref]
  • edited December 1969
    Well it is obvious that emotions hardly make us storng from the inside. The deep emotional sentiments does nothing good when it comes to take some of the most important decisions of life. The main thing about is to learn to control the emtions within himself and unless this is done life would appear as a dull thing.
  • edited December 1969
    My knee-jerk reaction to that is that life would be dull without emotions!

    In my experience, emotions just are. You can repress them or express them, but you're gonna feel 'em. I find the best thing is to surrender to them, fully experience them, and then they pass like clouds overhead. I've found the worse thing you can do is fight them.

    I believe I'm typically American here; we tend to wear our emotions on our sleeves. It's quite different in India...I was there in the late 70's and there was quite a bit of repression going on, if my perceptions were correct.
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