Home - Dharma for Awakening - Tao Teh King for Awakening–Preface - Action Without Deeds

Action Without Deeds

Part 3 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

Tao Teh King for Awakening cover
Also available a free PDF download from our E-Library and as an ebook and paperback from Amazon International.

Exalt not the wise, so that the people shall not scheme and contend; prize not rare objects, so that the people shall not steal; shut out from sight the things of desire, so that the people’s hearts shall not be disturbed.

Therefore in the government of the Sage: he keeps empty their hearts, makes full their bellies, discourages their ambitions, strengthens their frames; so that the people may be innocent of knowledge and desires. And the cunning ones shall not presume to interfere.

By action without deeds may all live in peace.

(Tao Teh King 3:1)

Exalt not the wise, so that the people shall not scheme and contend; prize not rare objects, so that the people shall not steal; shut out from sight the things of desire, so that the people’s hearts shall not be disturbed.

Exalt not the wise, so that the people shall not scheme and contend.

“Wise” here means those that are wise in the eyes of those with small understanding. Such people are usually only clever or cunning, not truly intelligent, much less really wise. Many of those that have “great personalities” are really manipulative sociopaths and not particularly bright. (Remember the “class officers” when you were in school?) It is incredible how shrewd mediocrities make their way to the top in so many aspects of life, particularly in religion, politics, and education.

This morning I came across the broadcast of a class in one of America’s most prestigious universities. The professor’s whole approach was not as serious or challenging as my grade school teachers’ had been. It was obvious he expected next to nothing from the students, and his whole manner of speaking implied that they were about six years of age intellectually. It reminded me of preschool Sunday School class. Then I realized that his entire approach was that of Captain Kangaroo! Evidently a generation of educators have modeled themselves on Bob Keeshan. I once worked with a graduate of that university who had learned absolutely nothing about anything, so I was not surprised at what I saw, but still I was appalled.

So if polished mediocrities are not exalted, others like them will not scheme and contend to also be exalted.

Prize not rare objects, so that the people shall not steal. It is strange how people value things that are rare or very expensive, paying no attention at all to their intrinsic value. What people need is a sensible perspective on what is of actual value to them as worthy human beings. During the days of Saint Edward the Confessor in England theft was virtually unknown. Historians assure us that if a traveler’s purse dropped on the road it would still be there weeks later. How was this? England at that time was a genuinely religious country and the people valued the eternal over the temporal.

Shut out from sight the things of desire, so that the people’s hearts shall not be disturbed. “For a man dwelling on the objects of the senses, attachment to them is born. From attachment desire is born. And from thwarted desire anger is born. From anger arises delusion; from delusion, loss of memory; from loss of memory, destruction of intelligence. From destruction of intelligence one is lost” (Bhagavad Gita 2:62-63). Therefore it is only good sense to avoid all things that can so addict and destroy us. This is way to peace.

Therefore in the government of the Sage: he keeps empty their hearts, makes full their bellies, discourages their ambitions, strengthens their frames; so that the people may be innocent of knowledge and desires. And the cunning ones shall not presume to interfere. As pointed out previously, there is no use in thinking that philosophers can reform government. But each one of us can apply Lao Tzu’s principles to ourselves as a micro-kingdom. So here is what we are being advised:

  1. Keep our heart empty of all that clutters or corrodes it.
  2. Nourish ourselves abundantly on that which is ennobling and satisfy our higher self.
  3. Curb our aspirations for that which is worthless, meaningless, and contrary to the revealing of the Tao: our true Self.
  4. Establish ourselves in the correct frame of reference or perspective regarding our life and ourselves, as well as others. This includes very defined and positive morality.

If we do this we shall be free of delusions thought to be knowledge and free of desires for that which countermands our true nature: the Tao. Living in such harmony within ourselves we shall have discovered the secret of life and transcended all that is lesser and unworthy of us. Illusions will then no longer cloud or distort our clear sight. As the Gita further says: “However, with attraction and aversion eliminated, even though moving amongst objects of sense, by self-restraint the self-controlled attains tranquility. In tranquility the cessation of all sorrows is produced for him. Truly, for the tranquil-minded the buddhi [intellect] immediately becomes steady” (Bhagavad Gita 2:64-65).

By action without deeds may all live in peace. To understand this I recommend that you read the Bhagavad Gita, for that is one of its main themes. Here is a section from its fourth chapter.

“Actions do not taint me, nor is desire for action’s fruit in me. He who thus comprehends me is not bound by actions. Knowing thus, the ancient seekers for liberation performed action. Do you, therefore, perform action as did the ancients in earlier times.

“What is action? What is inaction? Even the poet-sages were bewildered regarding this matter. This action shall I explain to you, which having known you shall be freed from evil. Truly the nature of action, of wrong action and of non-action is to be known. The path of action is difficult to understand. He who perceives inaction in action and action in inaction–such a man is wise among men, steadfast in yoga and doing all action.

“Whose undertakings are devoid of plan and desire for results, whose actions are consumed in the fire of knowledge–him the wise call wise. Having abandoned attachment for action’s fruit, always content, not dependent on anything even when acting, he truly does nothing at all. Acting with the body alone, without wish, with thought and lower self restrained, abandoning all acquisitiveness, though acting he incurs no fault. Content with what comes unbidden, beyond the pairs of opposites and free from envy, the same in success or failure, even though acting, he is not bound.

“The karma of one who is free from attachment, whose thought is established in knowledge, undertaking action for sacrifice, is wholly dissolved” (Bhagavad Gita 4:14-23).

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: The Character of Tao

(Visited 1,641 time, 1 visit today)

Introduction to The Tao Teh King for Awakening

Chapters of The Tao Teh King for Awakening

Preface to The Tao Teh King for Awakening

  1. On the Absolute Tao
  2. The Rise of Relative Opposites
  3. Action Without Deeds
  4. The Character of Tao
  5. Nature
  6. The Spirit of the Valley
  7. Living for Others
  8. Water
  9. The Danger of Overweening Success
  10. Embracing the One
  11. The Utility of Not-Being
  12. The Senses
  13. Praise and Blame
  14. Prehistoric Origins
  15. The Wise Ones of Old
  16. Knowing the Eternal Law
  17. Rulers
  18. The Decline of Tao
  19. Realize the Simple Self
  20. The World and I
  21. Manifestations of Tao
  22. Futility of Contention
  23. Identification with Tao
  24. The Dregs and Tumors of Virtue
  25. The Four Eternal Models
  26. Heaviness and Lightness
  27. On Stealing the Light
  28. Keeping to the Female
  29. Warning Against Interference
  30. Warning Against the Use of Force
  31. Weapons of Evil
  32. Tao is Like the Sea
  33. Knowing Oneself
  34. The Great Tao Flows Everywhere
  35. The Peace of Tao
  36. The Rhythm of Life
  37. World Peace
  38. Degeneration
  39. Unity Through Complements
  40. The Principle of Reversion
  41. Qualities of the Taoist
  42. The Violent Man
  43. The Softest Substance
  44. Be Content
  45. Calm Quietude
  46. Racing Horses
  47. Pursuit of Knowledge
  48. Conquering the World by Inaction
  49. The People’s Hearts
  50. The Preserving of Life
  51. The Mystic Virtue
  52. Stealing the Absolute
  53. Brigandage
  54. The Individual and the State
  55. The Character of the Child
  56. Beyond Honor and Disgrace
  57. The Art of Government
  58. Unobtrusive Government
  59. Be Sparing
  60. Governing a Big Country
  61. Big and Small Countries
  62. The Good Man’s Treasure
  63. Difficult and Easy
  64. Beginning and End
  65. The Grand Harmony
  66. The Lords of the Ravines
  67. The Three Treasures
  68. The Virtue of Not-Contending
  69. Camouflage
  70. They Know Me Not
  71. Sick-Mindedness
  72. On Punishment (1)
  73. On Punishment (2)
  74. On Punishment (3)
  75. On Punishment (4)
  76. Hard and Soft
  77. Bending the Bow
  78. Nothing Weaker than Water
  79. Peace Settlements
  80. The Small Utopia
  81. The Way of Heaven

Visit our e-library page for Free Downloads of this and other ebooks in various formats.

(Visited 1,641 time, 1 visit today)