not to show them what is likely to excite their desires is the way to keep their minds from disorder.In each of the citations above, the operative word is a form of the word, desire. It is important to keep this in mind because, if a person read this line on a very superficial level, it could be construed as a philosophy that favors keeping most of society in poverty!
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~
Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~
Do not show the desired things So their hearts will not be confused
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~
If you fulfill people's desires, you'll only leave them dissatisfied.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from Beatrice.com, 2004 ~
That's not what it is suggesting at all. There is a vast difference between needs and desires. As biological organisms, we need certain things to survive (e.g., air, food, water, rest, etc.). As psychological organisms, we need certain things to survive (e.g., nurturance, a sense of self-worth, love, etc.). Desires, on the other hand, include all the various baubles and trinkets in life that we believe we can't live without, but we easily could!
While need understands the principle of enough -- because too much is just as dangerous as too little -- desire is insatiable. A need can be filled; a desire cannot.
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