Tao Thought: Austerities and daodejing 66


Self-discipline leads to higher spiritual states
Only if practiced with understanding.
The clearer the goal,
The greater the result.

We must distinguish between discipline with a purpose and blind discipline. Discipline with a purpose is merely a means to an end and is healthy. Blind discipline does not have a true purpose and so becomes fanaticism. In the past, there were many spiritual people who believed in harsh asceticism. They would flog themselves, live in cold and damp caves, twist themselves into uncomfortable postures, fast for dangerous periods of time. All too often, these people lost sight of their goals. We must be strongly disciplined, but we must not lose sight of our inner meaning.

Austere living with a clear understanding of why and how we are doing things does not require esoteric practices. Few of us mind going through extra effort and even hardship if we know that we will gain something better for it. That is all that discipline and austerity are about : You make extra efforts to gain a better life.

365 Tao
Daily Meditations

Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

Tao Te Ching translated by current scholars


The reason the sea can govern a hundred rivers
is because it has mastered being lower
thus it can govern a hundred rivers

Thus if the sage would be above the people
he should speak as if he were below them
if he would be before them
he should act as though he were behind them

Thus when the sage is above
the people are not burdened
when he is in front
the people are not hindered
the world never wearies of pushing him forward

Because he doesn't struggle
no one can struggle against him



The sea is king of the valleys and streams
because it is willing to be beneath them.

One who wishes to guide the people
should be humble in her speech toward them.
One who wishes to lead the people
must learn the art of following them.

The sage is above the people,
but they don't feel her weight.
She stays ahead of the people,
and no harm comes to them.
She has the affection of the whole world.

Because she contends with no one,
no one can contend with her.



All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power.

If you want to govern the people,
you must place yourself below them.
If you want to lead the people,
you must learn how to follow them.

The Master is above the people,
and no one feels oppressed.
She goes ahead of the people,
and no one feels manipulated.
The whole world is grateful to her.
Because she competes with no one,
no one can compete with her.


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