Chapter 53 of the Dao De Jing

The Rambling Taoist is posting a commentary of the Dao De Jing on his blog.  I am attempting to do a commentary for Chapter 53 & 77 from Ellen Chen’s translation

If I have a little (chieh-jan) knowledge (chih),
To walk the great path (Tao),
I shall fear this:
The great path (Tao) is very flat and easy,
Yet others (jen) are fond of bypaths.
The courts are very neat,
The fields are very weedy,
The granaries are very empty.
Wearing embroidered clothes,
Carrying sharp swords,
Being surfeited with foods and drinks.
To accumulate wealth and treasures in excess,
This is called robbery and crime.
This is not to follow Tao.

Chen’s commentary says this chapter is referring to rulers and government.  Her general comment is:

In the spirit of the uncarved wood, Taoists are physiocrats who favor farming as the economic basis for the state.  Taoists like to see wealth spread among the people.  A splendid court and undue accumulation of wealth by the ruling class signify an empty granary and state treasury.

This chapter doesn’t require much commentary.  One can easily see how our government and the culture at large is not following Tao.  One can also easily apply this chapter to their own life.  To have more than one needs when others don’t have enough is not in harmony with Tao.


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