Saturday, July 25, 2009

Verse 9: Too Much

Verse Nine
Better stop short than fill to the brim.
Oversharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt.
Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it.
Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow.
Retire when the work is done.
This is the way of heaven.
~ Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English translation ~
The first time I read the Tao Te Ching I was struck by the amount of commonsense contained in these scant 81 verses. I think this verse, in particular, is a no-brainer. It cautions us how excess can lead to problems.

For example, who hasn't overfilled a cup with coffee or tea? You're in a hurry -- not paying as much attention as you should -- and you pour in way too much liquid so that your mug is absolutely full. Try walking back to your desk or couch without spilling a drop. While it's not impossible, it's also not very easy. More often than not, some or most of it ends up on the floor.

In present society, we always are urged to want more. It doesn't matter what we're talking about -- money, power, food, clothes, cars, gadgets, friends, etc. Enough never seems to be enough. So we pile our plate high with stuff we don't need and then we wonder why we're so stressed?

If we want to unburden our lives and live more in touch with Tao, we need to learn the simple lesson that sufficient is better than too much. The latter takes more time and energy to obtain, manage and protect. The former leads to healthier bodies and minds plus it frees up our energy to pursue more enjoyable and meaningful activities.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. Hi R T

    I SO agree. We always try to not take more than we need AND we always share what we have. I think the tow areas I am greedy in are, wines - I don;t like the cheap stuff, :-), and pizza, I prefer to make my own with fine cheeses and seasonings and my home made marinara sauce. Otherwise, we keep it pretty simple.

    Love to you and Della

  2. When it comes to pizza, almost every person tends to be a bit greedy. :)

  3. simple wisdom, yet so necessary and timely, and necessary of repeating.


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