Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Verse 53


If I have even a little sense,
I should walk in the Great Way,
and my only fear would be straying.

The Great Way is very easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
That is why there is corruption.
While farmers lose their land,
government officials spend money
on weapons instead of cures
and the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible
while the poor have nowhere to turn.
To wear fancy clothes and ornaments,
stuffing oneself with food and drink,
amassing wealth to the extent of not knowing
what to do with it,
is like being a robber and
is called the crime of excess.
This is not in keeping with the Tao.

Lao Tzu noted the flaws of society around 2,500 years ago and sadly those same flaws are still very much evident today: the crime of excess, of accumulating excessive money, possessions and power while others are penniless and starving. Why should we function like this? To behave in such a way is to be out of alignment with the Tao.

The Great Way of the Tao is the essence of simplicity itself, but it’s not a path that’s particularly attractive or alluring to the majority of people, whose egos and covetous natures are compelled by the accumulation of wealth and power at the expense of others.

“Getting ahead” and “getting what you want out of life” is still the general modus operandi of our society. And sadly it is the result of all the corruption we see on individual and collective levels. Governments are corrupt and have dubious priorities, focussing on power, supremacy and strong economies rather than harmony, balance, equality and holistic regard for all. In fact, so many people are curently rooted in their own self-interest that many simply wouldn’t allow a government to operate any way otherwise. Again, this is because most have chosen (whether consciously or unconsciously) the path of excess and greed over the path of the Great Way.

In order to live the Tao, one must let all that go. Clearly not everyone is up to that challenge. But that doesn’t matter, the only question that matters is this: am I up to it? Can I take the road less travelled and choose the Tao over the petty whims and desires of the ego?

It’s a simple choice, although not necessarily an easy one...but it is the choice between deep and lasting peace and a life of perpetual craving, striving and continual frustration and dissatisfaction.

When seen like that, you realise you’d have to be crazy to choose the winding side paths over the Great Way.

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