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The Three Treasures

Part 67 of the Tao Teh King for Awakening

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All the world says that my Tao is great, but seems queer, like nothing on earth. But it is just because my Tao is great that it is like nothing on earth! If it were like anything on earth, how small it would have been from the very beginning!

I have Three Treasures, which I hold fast and watch over closely. The first is Mercy. The second is Frugality. The third is Not Daring to Be First in the World.

Because I am merciful, therefore I can be brave. Because I am frugal, therefore I can be generous. Because I dare not be first, therefore I can be the chief of all vessels.

If a man wants to be brave without first being merciful, generous without first being frugal, a leader without first wishing to follow, he is only courting death!

Mercy alone can help you to win a war. Mercy alone can help you to defend your state. For Heaven will come to the rescue of the merciful, and protect him with its Mercy.

(Tao Teh King 67–Wu translation)

All the world says that my Tao is great, but seems queer, like nothing on earth. But it is just because my Tao is great that it is like nothing on earth! If it were like anything on earth, how small it would have been from the very beginning!

Because humanity lives in ignorance the way a fish lives in water, the Tao seems to be a fantasy and folly, even insanity. But it is really the antidote to those things, being not just wisdom but Reality. Those who can only understand matters in the context of this world can only be bewildered at hearing of the Tao.

Many people say: “I don’t see that” when they cannot understand. The Tao is too great to see with earthly eyes. Only that which is small can be seen by those immersed in worldly illusions and ignorance. So if we could see it, it would be small indeed and therefore not really the Tao. The only way to see the Tao is to expand our consciousness far beyond its present boundaries. This is what yoga is all about.

I have Three Treasures, which I hold fast and watch over closely. The first is Mercy. The second is Frugality. The third is Not Daring to Be First in the World.

Because I am merciful, therefore I can be brave. Since there is no violence in the heart of a truly merciful person he is fearless even though keenly aware of danger and of the evil that is in the world and which often prevails. Also, being merciful he knows that he has not sown enmity but only kindness, goodness and mercy. Therefore that is what he shall reap.

Because I am frugal, therefore I can be generous. Since he has kept his resources the wise man has a store from which he can draw to help others. Further, because he is frugal it is not his habit to be extravagant and give more than is needed or practical. Therefore his generosity is genuine and not an inflated show.

Because I dare not be first, therefore I can be the chief of all vessels. The wise man is free from overweening ambition and the need to maintain an inflated position in society. Therefore he is full control of his life and chief of all within it.

If a man wants to be brave without first being merciful, generous without first being frugal, a leader without first wishing to follow, he is only courting death! Disaster alone can follow trying to act virtuously without being oneself grounded in virtue.

Mercy alone can help you to win a war. Mercy alone can help you to defend your state. For Heaven will come to the rescue of the merciful, and protect him with its Mercy. Perhaps Jesus had this passage in mind when he perfectly encapsulated it: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

Next in the Tao Teh King for Awakening: The Virtue of Not-Contending

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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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