“Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 59” by Lao Tzu

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In governing a people and in serving Heaven,
There is nothing like frugality.
To be frugal is to return before straying.
To return before straying is to have a double reserve of virtue.
To have a double reserve of virtue is to overcome everything.
To overcome everything is to reach an invisible height.
Only he who has reached an invisible height can have a kingdom.
Only he who has got the Mother of a kingdom can last long.
This is the way to be deep-rooted and firm-planted in the Tao,
The secret of long life and lasting vision.

There is an old adage which should be familiar: Everything in moderation. While this seems like sage advice on the surface, reading Lao Tzu’s passage made me aware of the flaw in this. It should read: Moderation in everything. While the difference may be subtle, “everything in moderation” implies the desire for everything, feeding that constant striving for more which has created so many issues in our society. “Moderation in everything” implies that you temper your drive to acquire, and that you also temper you response to situations.

As Lao Tzu points out in the opening line, this guidance is applicable to both governing leaders and those on the spiritual path. If individuals in government practiced moderation instead of extremism, if they were more temperate instead of fiery, they would likely be better leaders, creating an environment of collaboration instead of division. Regarding those who are “serving Heaven,” it is better to move slowly along the spiritual path, instead of rushing forward or engaging in aggressive proselytizing. Living a humble, moderate spiritual life will have a greater impact on others that climbing the pulpit and trying to force your beliefs upon the masses.

These days, emotions are running high, and those who are passionate about causes and ideas tend more and more to be in need of moderation in everything. When you feel yourself having a strong emotional response to a situation, it may be good to take a breath, consider, then have a measured response. In 95% of situations, nothing is lost by pausing to reflect before reacting.

This will now be one of my mantras: Moderation in Everything.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in my musings. Stay safe, and may you and your family be blessed.

5 Comments

Filed under Literature, Spiritual

5 responses to ““Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 59” by Lao Tzu

  1. I’m struck by the line, “return before straying.” Perhaps that speaks to the notion of being aware of presence and one’s intentions?

    Agreed though, moderation just might allow more of us to find a middle ground to meet in.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Jeff!

    • I love your interpretation of that line. I’ve been practicing mindfulness and presence, so I definitely relate. Glad you enjoyed the post. Have a wonderful weekend.

  2. Reblogged this on penwithlit and commented:
    “Moderation in Everything” is of course, an Epicurean Philosophy. Often misunderstood and misinterpreted as self-indulgence. Thanks for posting.

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