Part 8: Chapters 36-37, 43

Karma and Ego

by Lao Tzu Icon

Chapter 36: Karma

1 Before a man:

  • inhales, he must first exhale.
  • weakens another, that other must be strong first.
  • overthrows another, that other must be raised first.
  • despoils another, that other must have gifts first.

This is called ‘Hiding the light of his procedure.’

2 The soft overcomes the hard; and the weak the strong.

3 Fishes should not be taken from the deep. Instruments for the profit of a state should not be shown to the people.

Chapter 37: The Tao or True Nature Lets Things Go Their Natural Way

1 The Tao in its regular course does nothing for the sake of doing it, and so there is nothing which it does not do.

2 If princes and kings were able to maintain it, all things would of themselves be transformed by them.

3 If this transformation became to me an object of desire, I would express the desire by the nameless simplicity. Simplicity without a name Is free from all external aim. With no desire, at rest and still, All things go right as of their will.

Chapter 43

1 The softest thing in the world dashes against and overcomes the hardest.

That which has no (substantial) existence enters where there is no crevice.

I know hereby what advantage belongs to doing nothing (with a purpose).

2 There are few in the world who attain to the teaching without words, and the advantage arising from non-action.

Chapter 48: Have No Ego nor Expectation

  • He who devotes himself to learning seeks to increase his knowledge everyday.
  • He who devotes himself to the Tao seeks to reduce his ego everyday.

2 He keeps on reducing it until his ego can do nothing by itself. Having arrived at this point of non-action, his [freed] self can do anything.

3 He who gets as his own all under heaven does so by giving himself no trouble about expecting anything.

If one takes trouble to expect anything, he will not get what heaven was supposed to give.

Chapter 24: The Ego is Against the Tao

He who stands tiptoeed does not stand firm. He who stretches his legs does not walk easily. He who displays himself does not shine.

He who asserts his own views is not distinguished. He who vaunts himself does not find his merit acknowledged. He who is self-conceited has no superiority allowed to him. Such conditions, viewed from the standpoint of the Tao or True Nature, are like remnants of food, or a tumour on the body, which all dislike.

Hence those who are not one with the Tao or True Nature do not adopt and allow them.

Chapter 26: Gravity

1 Gravity is the root of lightness. Stillness is the ruler of movement.

2 Therefore a wise prince, marching the whole day, does not go far from his baggage wagons. He might have brilliant prospects to look at. But he quietly remains in his proper place, indifferent to them.

How should the lord of a myriad chariots carry himself lightly before the kingdom?

  • If he acts lightly, then he has lost his root of gravity.
  • If he proceeds to decisive action, he will lose his throne.

Chapter 33: Defeating the Ego

1 He who knows other men is discerning. He who knows himself is intelligent. He who overcomes others is strong. He who overcomes himself is mighty. He who is satisfied with his lot is rich. He who goes on acting with energy has a (firm) will.

2 He who does not fail in the requirements of his position, continues long. He who dies and yet does not perish, has longevity.