Thursday, May 15, 2008

3: As Little as Possible


Not praising the deserving
Prevents envy.
Not valuing wealth
Prevents theft.
Not displaying what's desirable
Prevents confusion of the senses.
The sage governs by emptying senses and filling bellies,
Curbing strife and strengthening backs,
Keeping the people ignorant and without desire,
Making the learned afraid to act.
If he acts without action, order will prevail.

As Little as Possible

Society is obsessed with the eagerness to change. Change for the better, we would like to believe. Today we call it progress, as if that's automatically the case...

Here is my full commentary on this Tao Te Ching chapter:
Tao Te Ching Chapter 3 Translation and Commentary


  1. I och med att världen idag har enorma miljöproblem och står inför stora utmaningar är Lao Tzu och Tao Te Ching mer aktuell än någonsin.

  2. Förresten säg gärna till när boken går att köpa. Väldigt intresserad :)

  3. Pär said, roughly translated:
    "Because the world today faces huge environmental problems, Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching are more relevant than ever."
    "By the way, let me know when the book is possible to buy. I am very interested :)"

    Thank you for your kind words, Pär. I will announce when the book is published. And certainly, the present environmental issues make the Tao Te ching seem to be written today.

  4. Damn. Here I was begining to write my own thoughts on the Tao Te Ching, when I should stumble upon this masterpiece. I must have read your version of the Tao Te Ching start to finish at least 4 times and I must say, well done sir. When reading, if your thoughts are not echoing my own then they are showing my an entirely new way of 'sseing' each chapter.

    And I love your translation. You word things so well, yet still seem to retain the main idea that is expressed in many of the other translations I've read. Your wording of the ideas expressed in The Tao Te Ching make this timeless wisdom very accessible to those who are a bit averse to scouring ancient texts and tomes.

    IS it by chance for sale?

  5. Reading this chapter of your translation makes me think about all the rich and famous people of our society. They could learn alot from just appreciating as little as possible. Of course, once people get rich they gain a certain level of power and go wild, and in turn they often suffer or meet their demise. As a matter of fact, I can name a famous american celebrity we just recently lost who suffered that fate.

  6. hello. i've read chapter 3 and to be honest I felt an unease the likes of which I had never felt while reading tao/zen related material.

    i've even written a comment on it, at .. it looks like self-advertisement but it's way more efficient than explaining my thoughts here once more.

    the bottom line is: doesn't this sound like communist/totalitarian regimes to you? also, like taking away the power people have to decide for themselves what's good for them? i would hope someone would explain that i'm wrong here but I don't like this chapter too much, although i really like other tao/zen texts.

    i would appreciate if you could tell me your thoughts on it.

  7. Me again! No more posting after this.
    I think this chapter is to warn us not to chase after good things because all 'good' stuffs will also carry 'bad' stuffs with them (because we cannot separate good and bad). When the 'good' part weaken, the bad side will rise, and we will be in trouble! Just look at what everybody do now. We all are chasing 'good' stuffs. That's why Lao tzu said we should live simply according with nature (fillings bellies, strong bones), avoid unreal dreaming of good stuffs (empty mind), make people not to favor good and hate bad, like rich and dislike poor ..., make the wise understand the bad side of their knowledge, so they will be careful when they use them, and so on ...
    Oh! too many things to say ... better stop before I am getting crazy!
    Hope this may entertain somebody. If not, please forgive my craziness and extremely bad English!

  8. I've been reading Tao for some time now and somehow i find myself confused. You see I have this dream of owning a big house, nice small company, drive any kind of car i want. Now my question is, is it a bad dream? should i stop craving for such things? How can i stop??