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On Punishment (4)

Part 75 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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When people are hungry, it is because their rulers eat too much tax-grain.

Therefore the unruliness of hungry people is due to the interference of their rulers. That is why they are unruly.

The people are not afraid of death, because they are anxious to make a living. That is why they are not afraid of death.

It is those who interfere not with their living that are wise in exalting life.

(Tao Teh King 75)

When people are hungry, it is because their rulers eat too much tax-grain. Wu: “Why are the people starving? Because those above them are taxing them too heavily. That is why they are starving.” This is certainly true in many instances.

Therefore the unruliness of hungry people is due to the interference of their rulers. That is why they are unruly.

Civil disobedience often results from government interference that is unjust, foolish and destructive. I am sorry to say that famines have been engineered by governments that wanted to prove that without them the people could not survive. Their friends in high places ignored the fact that the people were not surviving at all! The wife of a former governor of Madras State during the British Raj told me that her husband had engineered famines in the Madras State that brought about the deaths of tens of thousands of Indians. One time he collaborated with the governor of Bombay State to sell rotten rice (her words) to the Madras State. In this way the Bombay State governor got rich and thousands died of starvation in Madras State. And the British Raj told the world: “If we were not here things would be much worse, even impossible!” And a foolish, gullible world believed it. The much vaunted poverty of India was a result of one thousand years of exploitive tyranny: seven hundred years of Moslem domination and three hundred years of British domination. It took nearly fifty years to recover from this blight, but today India is well on its way to becoming a major economic force in the world. Jai Hind!

The people are not afraid of death, because they are anxious to make a living. That is why they are not afraid of death. Wu: “Why do people make light of death? Because those above them make too much of life. That is why they make light of death. The people have simply nothing to live upon! They know better than to value such a life!” Feng and English: “Why do the people think so little of death? Because the rulers demand too much of life.”

Governments often create poverty so the people will be so desperate in their struggle to live that they will either be distracted from the evils of those governments or too busy barely living that they have no time or inclination to protest, much less rid themselves of such a government. Some Russian friends told me that in the heyday of the Soviet Union the people used to say: “If the Soviet government was put in charge of the Sahara desert, within a week there would be a shortage of sand.” Stupidity and cunning often combine to perpetuate what Lao Tzu is discussing.

It is those who interfere not with their living that are wise in exalting life. Mabry: “Therefore, it seems that one who does not grasp this life too tightly is better off than one who clings.” Feng and English: “Having little to live on, one knows better than to value life too much.” There seems to be no consensus among translators as to the meaning of these words, so apparently we can choose which we prefer. There certainly is a difference between living and life. As I read once long ago: “Most people make a living, but very few make a life.”

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: Hard and Soft

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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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