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Be Sparing

Part 59 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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In managing human affairs, there is no better rule than to be sparing.

To be sparing is to forestall; to forestall is to be prepared and strengthened; to be prepared and strengthened is to be ever-victorious; to be ever-victorious is to have infinite capacity; he who has infinite capacity is fit to rule a country, and the Mother (principle) of a ruling country can long endure.

This is to be firmly rooted, to have deep strength, the road to immortality and enduring vision.

(Tao Teh King 59)

In managing human affairs, there is no better rule than to be sparing.

Wu: “There is nothing like frugality.” Bigger and more are usually not better, despite popular opinion. There is a frugality that comes from both stinginess and obstructionism, but there is also a prudent frugality in which resources are conserved in order to continue using them in the future. As I cited earlier, a wise adage from the past is: “Eat it up; wear it out; make it do or do without.” Though we think of frugality as economic, it can be applied in many areas of human life. Actually frugality and moderation are never far apart.

To be sparing [frugal] is to forestall; to forestall is to be prepared and strengthened; to be prepared and strengthened is to be ever-victorious; to be ever-victorious is to have infinite capacity; he who has infinite capacity is fit to rule a country, and the Mother (principle) of a ruling country can long endure.

Frugality prevents depletion or bankruptcy and is a foresight that ensures continuity and strength and therefore mastery of a situation. I met a man that from his teen years had been investing safely. He told me that he would calculate how much he could afford to lose, and would invest only that amount. If things went badly he was still solvent and had nearly all his former gains. If things went well, then he was better off than before. Lao Tzu is advocating this approach for it fits people to take on more and greater responsibilities successfully. His interest is not economic development but insurance against the worries and possible entanglements brought about by financial collapse. Peace of mind is his intention.

This is to be firmly rooted, to have deep strength, the road to immortality and enduring vision.

When moderation and prudence are observed in all areas of life, then as the master says, great strength and security will result for the moderate and prudent. Since, as Sri Ramakrishna observed, if you can weigh salt you can weigh sugar, cultivation of material wisdom can assist in developing spiritual wisdom and thereby be able to take the path to immortality and enduring vision: essential traits of a happy and worthwhile outlook and life.

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: Governing a Big Country

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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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