I want it but I don’t want to earn it

[Note: I italicize phrases I borrow from the chapter, and link to phrases I borrow from other chapters to help tie chapters together. While making it more tedious to read, :? the Tao Te Ching is best pondered in the context of the whole.

Go back to holding fast to the mother brings to my mind the wisdom of consolidation. Desire keeps driving me forward and sooner or later I discover I'm out, way out, on a limb. Truly, ‘two steps forward - one step backward’ is the only way to [chref=69]advance[/chref] in life and maintain a sane balance. The illusion of solutions easily grabs hold, and off I go [chref=16]willfully innovating while ignorant of the constant[/chref]. Of course, less so now that I’m older and wiser… or is it that I’ve just burned up much of my youthful energy. Either way, hooray!

To see the small (discernment), use the light, but give up the discernment brings to mind the saying ‘like water off a duck back’. Observing the nature of things is one of the joys of consciousness, until I get emotionally entangled, become [chref=57]meddlesome[/chref] and help affairs. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. All I can do is patiently [chref=56]untangle the knots[/chref] as best I can. ‘Patiently untangling knots’ is a superb metaphor for living life, unless of course I'm in the process of actually untangling knots.

First, the literal with some kinks smoothed over:
All under heaven had a beginning; consider the origin of all under heaven.
Since you have this origin, use this to know its seed.
Since you know its seed, abide close by the origin.
Sinking into this, live without danger.
Stopple the exchange, shut the door; to the end, life is easy,
Open the exchange, help affairs; to the end, life gets in the way.
Seeing the small is called clarity, abiding by the soft is called strong.
Use the light, and again return to clarity, without leaving behind a life of calamity.
Correctly, this serves as practice of the constant.

Now, the literal kinks and all:
heaven under have beginning, think (consider, believe) heaven under mother (origin).
already (since, now that) get its (that) mother (origin), use (take; because of; so as to) know its (that) son (child, seed, egg).
already (since, now that) know its (that) son (child, seed), duplicate (again) observe (abide by, close to) its (that) mother (origin).
sink (submerge, rise beyond, disappear, die) body (life, oneself) not danger.
fill in (stuff) its (that) exchange (convert), shut its (that) door, end (finish, death, after all, whole) body not diligent (frequent).
open its (that) exchange (add), aid (relieve, help) its (that) matter (affair, involvement), end (death, after all, whole) body not rescue (save, help).
see its (that) small say (call) bright (clear, honest), observe (abide by, near) soft (supple, yielding) say (call) strive (strong, better).
use (employ, apply, need) its (that) light (brightness, honor), duplicate (again) go back to (return, come together) its (that) bright (clear, honest), without lose (omit, leave behind) body calamity.
correctly act (serve as, do, become) practice (review, habit custom) ordinary (normal, constant, invariable).


  • edited December 2007
    I suspect we all approach our lives with some degree of wanting to have it the easy way. Our desires exceed our willingness to earn them. Thus we’re attracted to easy salvation, easy diets, easy answers, easy payments. I can even imagine that this is partly responsible for our belief in free will, e.g., “I can just choose to have it so, and it will be so”. It also augments our hierarchical social nature. We are drawn to those who actually appear to ‘earn’ what we admire (i.e., projected desire?), be it in sports, government, art, etc. Up on the pedestal they go; we have our leader. 8)

    We’ll pick the easy way over the hard way any day. That said, we must forgive ourselves. We, and all other life on earth, evolved to chose the easy way over the hard way whenever possible – and in wilderness circumstances that works out marvelously well. Civilization makes that instinct more problematic.

    Instincts are intractable motivating life forces. Thus, are we then helplessly locked into ‘wanting it without earning it’? Naturally! Nevertheless, knowing what is happening can mitigate nature’s [chref=65]hoodwink[/chref]. Consider these helpful hints:

    [chref=63]Therefore even the sage treats some things as difficult.
    That is why in the end no difficulties can get the better of him. [/chref]

    [chref=71]It is by being alive to difficulty that one can avoid it.
    The sage meets with no difficulty. It is because he is alive to it that he meets with no difficulty. [/chref]
  • edited December 1969
    much like the "Easy Abs" machines that are on infomericals. they purport to "give you great abs in a little as 5 minutes a day" in short, just press the easy button, no need to work at it through diet and exercise.

    it is too easy to press the easy button and take the short cuts instead of working at it to get the end result
  • edited December 1969
    "Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." Albert Einstein

    The irony I see is that understanding can only be achieved through ignorance. Nuts! Well, I've got the first part down anyway. :? All I need to is wait for the understanding.

    Here is another way to see the idea of peace... [chref=2]Thus War and Peace produce, complement, off-set, harmonize and follow each other;
    Geez, that doesn't make for a very uplifting Christmas message does it? :roll:
  • edited December 1969
    I've always taken the path of least resistance, in the sense that I do what's expected of me and don't get hasseled too much. It's worked out pretty well. Living this way, I could ever be a Bill and Hillary, but I don't want to be.

    Re exercise, I've been doing it the hard way, actually going to the gym and joining in with others to push ourselves to our limits. It's a first in my life and I am surprised at all the long term benefits it has given. Endorphins, more energy, better mood, more strength so that my livestock responsibilities are now easer to do , even making the bed is easier. Sometimes doing things the hard way makes life easier.

    What is the phrase Carl likes to quote? Short term pain, long term pleasure?
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