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Living for Others

Part 7 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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Heaven is long-enduring and earth continues long. The reason why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue thus long is because they do not live of, or for, themselves. This is how they are able to continue and endure.

Therefore the sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found in the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign to him, and yet that person is preserved. Is it not because he has no personal and private ends, that therefore such ends are realized?

(Tao Teh King 7)

Heaven is long-enduring and earth continues long. The reason why heaven and earth are able to endure and continue thus long is because they do not live of, or for, themselves. This is how they are able to continue and endure.

This seventh verse extols the condition of egolessless. When the ego is operative it is engaged in constant struggle with its environment, inner and outer, and especially with other human beings. The entire lifetime of the ego-directed (and therefore enslaved) individual is a war which expends all its inner and outer resources, ensuring that peace and inner harmony are impossibilities, however “righteous” the ego may pretend that war to be. Only those who live in humility can rest content in the true Self. Here is how the Gita describes such people:

“When he leaves behind all the desires of the mind, contented in the Self by the Self, then he is said to be steady in wisdom. He whose mind is not agitated in misfortunes, freed from desire for pleasures, from whom passion, fear and anger have departed, steady in thought–such a man is said to be a sage. He who is without desire in all situations, encountering this or that, pleasant or unpleasant, not rejoicing or disliking–his wisdom stands firm.… In tranquility the cessation of all sorrows is produced for him. Truly, for the tranquil-minded the buddhi immediately becomes steady.… Like the ocean, which becomes filled yet remains unmoved and stands still as the waters enter it, he whom all desires enter and who remains unmoved attains peace–not so the man who is full of desire. He who abandons all desires attains peace, acts free from longing, indifferent to possessions and free from egotism. This is the divine state. Having attained this, he is not deluded. Fixed in it even at the time of death, he attains Brahmanirvana” (Bhagavad Gita 2:55-57, 65, 70-72).

“He who hates no being, is friendly and compassionate, free from ‘mine,’ free from ‘I,’ the same in pain and pleasure, patient, the yogi who is always content, self-controlled and of firm resolve, whose mind and intellect are fixed on me, who is devoted to me–he is dear to me. He who agitates not the world, and whom the world agitates not, who is freed from joy, envy, fear and distress–he is dear to me. He who is indifferent, pure, capable, objective, free from anxiety, abandoning all undertakings, devoted to me–he is dear to me. He rejoices not, he hates not, he grieves not, he desires not, renouncing the agreeable and disagreeable, full of devotion–he is dear to me. The same to enemy and to friend, the same in honor and disgrace, in heat and cold, pleasure and pain, freed from attachment, the same in blame and praise, silent, content with anything whatever, not identifying with any place or abode, steady-minded, full of devotion–this man is dear to me. Those who honor this immortal dharma just described, endued with faith, deeming me the Goal Supreme, devoted–they are exceedingly dear to me” (Bhagavad Gita 12:13-20).

Therefore the sage puts his own person last, and yet it is found in the foremost place; he treats his person as if it were foreign to him, and yet that person is preserved. Is it not because he has no personal and private ends, that therefore such ends are realized? When the ego is pushed to the end of the line, the real Self will be found at its head. That is why Jesus said: “The last shall be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). And: “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it” (Luke 17:33). When the phenomenal, conditioned personality is seen as really external, and in no way our true Self, it is purified and preserved, becoming a mirror of our inner reality. Those who truly desire nothing find that they attain much. The Yoga Sutras say that when a person is completely indifferent to materiality then all the treasures of the earth are available to him. Also, when the limited ego is set aside, the limitless Self comes into function.

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: Water

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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

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