Tao Te Ching – Chapter 77

 

Following this path is like stringing a bow.
One end is pulled down
and the other is pulled up,
creating a dynamic balance.
So this practice encourages a dynamic balance between excess and deficiency.
When we see an excess,
we reduce it.
When we see a deficiency,
we give to it.

This is contrary to common wisdom.
Common wisdom seeks to constantly increase excess.
To do this, that which is lacking must decrease even more.
Balance is destroyed.

To keep balance we must trust this path and keep to our true nature.
This allows us to give without worry,
and to receive without attachment.

 
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Classic Communism hasn’t worked because it is an economic system based on the same materialistic paradigm as all other modern economic systems. But true balance, as this chapter points out, is something more fundamental to authentic human nature. Before the introduction of ownership, property, fences, and wealth that accompanied the agricultural revolution six to ten thousand years ago, balance was essential to the functioning of the community. If good times arose, all benefited. If scarce times came, all faced the scarcity together.

I sometimes despair when I see how far we have come from this essential part of the Path. Yet, I also see generosity and the gift economy beginning to seep into culture in a hidden way. We are all longing for authentic lives and recovering this kind of sharing balance is one of the signs that this longing may be on the path to fulfillment. Nancy and I have felt “lack” sometimes over the past year, yet “excess” has flowed into our lives in many more ways. A sharing and gifting economy exists. We are feeling and seeing it all around us. Both the giving and the receiving are necessary for the balance to be effective. We have received such blessing and, I hope, given freely within this new paradigm.

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