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Chapter 12: 五色令人目盲,五音令人耳聋,五味令人口爽,驰骋畋猎令人心发狂,难得之货令人行妨。是以圣人为腹不为目,故去彼取此。

Chapter Subtitle:Excesses versus inner harmony of one’s life


[MP13a]Excessive pursuit of multi-color objects will make one’s vision dull. (五色令人目盲)

[MP13b]Excessive exposure to loud sound will impair one’s hearing. (五音令人耳聋)

[MP13c]Excessive pursuit of delicious food will make one’s taste-buds bland. (五味令人口爽)

[MP13d]Over-indulgence in game hunting will make one addicted and hence, restless. (驰骋畋猎令人心发狂)

[MP13e]Excessive lust for gold and silver jewelry will make one waste his resources to covet them or clandestinely at the expense of others. (难得之货令人行妨)

[MP14a]This is why (是以) an astute leader (圣人) emphasizes on the inner harmony of one’s life (为腹), that is, merely to satisfy his needs for a frugal lifestyle (author’s supplementation) and forgo the pursuit of luxurious items and flashy lifestyle (不为目).

[MP14b]Correspondingly (), an incisive leader (author’s insertion) shall work on what is practical (取此) and ignore the frivolous (去彼).


  1. MP13a to 13e are relatively straight-forward translations. You can have quite a freehand and imaginations to explain it in English. I just did my very best.

  2. MP14a and MP14b could be rather difficult. The difficult part is the use of analogy and .

  3. infers to practical solution to feed an empty stomach.

  4. infers what is good to look at as it appears to be but not tangible.

  5. Though it seems that I had made fairly good use of the English language to express my point of view, actually, the Chinese translation follows strictly the given meaning in the Han dictionary.

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