Taoist Philosophy - Chapter 116

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The Weak Can Defeat The Strong


The reason why people starve
Is because government takes so much in tax-grain;
Therefore they starve.
The unruliness of hungry people
Is due to the interference of their rulers;
That is why the people are unruly.
The people are not afraid of death
Because they are anxious to make a living;
That is why they are not afraid of death.
It is those who interfere not with the people’s living
That are wise in exalting life.

To Live Peacefully

“For it is not difficult to get the people to live peacefully with one another.”

Edited by Marblehead

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Hi Manitou,


I understand what you are saying.


I don't know if I can add anything useful but I will try.


When the people have everything taken from them they will resort to any means to support themselves. They will steal if they need to even knowing that if they are caught they might be killed.


Remember that Taoist Philosophy teaches us that we should try to live our life to its fullest potential. That would mean that we do not do things that put our life in danger. If we are forced into these conditions by government taking nearly everything the people have there is no way they will every be able to live their life to its fullest.


The fear of death, I think, refers to death before the cycle of life has been completed.


If the people are left alone to earn an honest living they will not be concerning themselves with death but rather with life.

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+ Otis' expert analysis …beautiful indeed.


True compassion is knowing when to leave people alone. Nurturing the self, complete unity is undisturbed.


Nurturing that which taxes essence, the organism is perverted (arbitrary intellectual craving subverts vitality from essence; the two things become separated).


When yin and yang loose cohesive interpenetration, the temperament is now agitated, now depressed. Anger and cupidity erupt in flows; virtue is lost.


With the loss of balance and harmony, the personality goes to extremity and reaches an impasse.


Anxious to make a living is like trying to make life work because by depleting life (vitality) in vain pursuit of particulars (grains), people change the basis of living potential into endless illusions. Subsequently, death becomes a symbiotic mirror. When people expend the basis of life to keep the delusional fear generated by psychic disease away— It's not that kings are stealing, people themselves are loosing the basis of sane energy by pursuing externals in fear of their own reflections (hello retail therapy).


When people are at their wit's end, there is nothing they will not do because they perceive there is nothing to loose. If there is only death, what is the point of fearing it. The reason why they anxiously chase after life is because they see no power in death. It is a matter of having lost universal goodness. During the European (Black) plague, some people just stopped caring and gave free rein to all manner of indulgences. Although it is applicable, I'm guessing the ancient one wasn't wasting a lot of ink talking about literal kings, people, taxes, fear and death— but rather a way to keep reality whole.


Death is the abode of virtue. Not fearing death is not valuing virtue. Virtue is not under the rubric of a cultural morality. It is a function of the receptive. It's not a matter of both sides of the same coin; rather, waves lapping on the shore is like virtue. Not two; not even one. The subtle continuity is seamless. It's not in or out; stillness or movement. Nonpsychological spirit and essential vitality interpenetrate, the swell is the configuration of its own subduction; then the king of death comes to collect you.


If you do not value life, virtue overflows, and life and death are equal: what then does the king have over you? Dissolution of the self is like the king. This is a dimension beyond convention. Loosing virtue is chasing the one and not fearing the other, which destroys complete reality in the self. So those who do not interfere with essential life are wise in keeping it together.

Edited by deci belle
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