Taoteching 44

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Where is the profit in gaining the adulation of the whole world, but losing your good health? Where is the profit in gaining all the goods this world has to offer, but losing your very life?

Anything taken to excess comes with a cost. Knowing when to stop, you will not appear foolish to others. Knowing when to stop, you will not invite danger. And you will attain longevity.

A disciple asked, "Lord Ji, why are the men of our society always trying to one-up each other?"

Master Ji answered, "It is because our society holds wealth and power and all manner of 'things' in such high esteem. If you exalt things, this always leads to envy and fraud and highway robbery."

The disciple asked, "Then what should we look up to, Master Ji?"

Master Ji answered "Look up to the man who strengthens the people's resolve to accept delay in order to obtain longer lasting results."

"Master Ji, how do we eliminate the influence of clever men who promise to teach the people ways to make a quick profit?"

"By education," replied Master Ji. "When all the people are suspicious of wheeler-dealers, the competitive will find no crevice, no 'handle' by which to grasp and rule them."

"Yet some people will always be manipulated by their discontent, Master Ji," the disciple said.

Master Ji said, "That is because they have let their ego become so great that their capacity for enjoyment has been displaced. Renounce your greater passions, and indulge your lesser passions, and you will be content."

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