Tao Te Ching, Chapter 67

  • August 1, 2015
  • Virtues
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Three Treasures

Three Treasures for the Taoist is a key idea.   The three treasures is a simple idea that encompasses the sage and his guide for living.  Other religions and philosophies have three characteristics they consider important,  Pluto and Aristotle believed that temperance, wisdom, and justice were the most important character traits.  Christians considered the cardinal virtues to be faith, hope and charity.  I am sure  other philosophies have their own key virtues.

It is Beyond Compare
“Everyone in the world calls my Tao great
As if it is beyond compare
It is only because of its greatness
That it seems beyond compare
If it can be compared
It would already be insignificant long ago!”

Chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching states, ‘The nameless (That which we call Tao) is the origin of Heaven and Earth. The named is the mother of myriad things (all things)”.  There is nothing to compare to the Tao and therefore it is called great.  Everyone thinks of the Tao as great because it cannot be compared to anything else.  This make sense in our everyday life we call great those things and people that cannot be compared to anything else.  The Grand Canyon is great because there is no other formation to compare it to.  We call Abraham Lincoln great because there is no one else that did the things he did to compare him to.  These things are not forgotten because they cannot be compared to anything else.  When we talk about Tao or God there is nothing that is like them. therefore they are great and not insignificant.


The Taoist Sage three treasures.

My Three Treasures

I have three treasures
I hold on to them and protect them
The first is called compassion
The second is called conservation

The third is called not daring to be ahead in the world

The three treasures might be considered three virtues.  These three treasures are central to the teachings of Lao Tzu.  If we follow the three treasures we will live in the Tao, being your true self.  This first treasure is compassion, or is it something more?  The Chinese charter used to represents this treasure is love of a mother.  The various translations use compassion, unconditional love, mercy, and love.  I choose love because it has the most feeling for me.  Unconditional love is the ability to feel consideration and compassion for everyone

In this translation for the second treasure the word conversation.  Other translations used frugality, Austerity, economy and moderation. I prefer the word moderation because it is more about how to live life. Frugal which was used most often in my survey of 10 translations seems to me to be about being selfish with property.  However Frugality has been described  holding onto what’s precious to you without needing direction and shouting about it all the time. 

The third treasure is called not daring to be ahead in the world.  The translations used humility, not daring to take the lead in the empire, one not putting oneself ahead of others, and reluctance to excel. The phrases like not putting oneself ahead of others can be defined as Not acting like a hot shot, being willing to let others shine and instead of trying to appear like yours is better than everyone else.

My suggestion is you choose the word the best describes your treasures, write them down and put it somewhere you will see as a reminded of how you want to be. 

Assume Leadership

Compassionate, thus able to have courage
Conserving, thus able to reach widely
Not daring to be ahead in the world
Thus able to assume leadership

When we use the three treasures we will find we have courage from compassion.  In conflict if we are feeling compassion and love instead of personal motivation then victory and endurance can both be assured.  We will have the right attitude and we will get the right outcome.  When we are acting with moderation we will accumulate good, because we will avoid bankruptcy by spending everything and will not miss opportunities because we are afraid to spend.  Although I put this in terms of money we should remember we can bankrupt our personal life or we can miss the good things in life because we are not willing to risk our emotions.  In the blog on chapter 66 we discussed leadership from behind.

Then Death
Now if one has courage but discards compassion
Reaches widely but discards conservation
Goes ahead but discards being behind
Then death!

The word death should not be taken literally although if we do as the verse says I am sure some part of us would die.  Another word for death by the Chinese as used in the Tao Te Ching also means fixed or rigid. Rebel without compassion is going to be the same as when soldiers say  I have no care for the lies they take.  Giving and generosity without moderation leads to many of us to waste into the gluttony, no fortune is so great that it will not all be spent.  The ruler who wants to be first in the world may create widespread destruction. They won’t spare anything to get there.  All of these actions lead to negative results which make us rigid, stiff and may result in emotional and physical dying.

Heaven Will Save Them

If one fights with compassion, then victory
With defense, then security
Heaven shall save them
And with compassion guard them

If a person fights with compassion. They will have victory and security.  They will be saved and guarded with compassion.

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