Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Side Road of Excess

If I have even a little sense,
I will walk on the main road and my only fear will be
of straying from it.
Keeping to the main road is easy,
But people loved to be sidetracked.

When the court is arrayed in splendor,
The fields are full of weeds,
And the granaries are bare.
Some wear gorgeous clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
and indulge themselves with food and drink;
They have more possessions than they can use.
They are robber barons.
This is certainly not the way of Tao
~ Tao Te Ching, Fifty-Three ~
Though these words were first put pen to paper thousands of years ago, they could have just as easily been written during contemporary times! It really seems like an apt description of what is going on the U.S. today.

It seems like every other day a new news report comes out about this or that executive, for a company that is receiving taxpayer dollars via the federal bailout, is using said money to fund extravagant purchases. They plead poverty and come hat in hand begging before Congress and, once the money is secured, go on living at a level for above those bailing them out!

In essence, this is but one illustration of life out of balance.

This is not to suggest that every person should earn the same amount and that all things in life must be equal. If we look to nature, we see a constant ebb and flow of the life force. Sometimes a species is on the rise, while, at other times, they're in decline. But Mother Nature seems to have an uncanny ability to self-correct excesses and deficiencies. Mother Nature keeps to the main road.

Human society could learn a lot by mimicking the natural world. We suffer from crime and war because robber barons decked out in gorgeous clothes flaunt their excess in the face of the poor. We maintain police and armies to keep the poor from bothering the rich and their excess of possessions.

Remove the excess and one could remove much of the stress and misery in this world. Excess leads those who have to the stress of retention and obtaining more. Excess leads those who have not to the stress of yearning and trying to devise cunning ways to steal.

Therefore, excess is what sidetracks us from holding to the center and being one with Tao.

1 comment:

  1. Hello my friend, This is such a great chapter from the the tao te jing. So relavent to modern life. In my opinion all civilizations are the same, when they stray from the path they start to decay. Many of us who care for mother Earth have become sickened with this hyper-capitalism that eats the Earth with greedy disregard. Yet all attempts to stop it only perpetuates it's power and run counter to the taoist teaching's of inaction or letting things run their natural course (Wu-Wei). Let us not despair, for it says in the Tao te jing." If you want to get rid of something then allow it to flourish". And thats just what is happening right now. This sick system will evenually eat itself.

    P.S. Thanks for your encouraging comment on my self-depricating rant (letter from master). I wasn't sure if you saw my response before I deleted it. I appreciate your support.


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