Taking Death Lightly

To keep you entertained overnight, here are a couple of chapters from the Tao Te Ching (by Lao Tzu, 6th century B.C., Gia-fu Feng translation):


If men are not afraid to die,
It is no avail to threaten them with death.
If men live in constant fear of dying,
And if breaking the law means that a man will be killed,
Who will dare to break the law?

There is always an official executioner.
If you try to take his place,
It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood.
If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.


– – – – – – – –

Why are the people starving?
Because the rulers eat up the money in taxes.
Therefore the people are starving.
Why are the people rebellious?
Because the rulers interfere too much.
Therefore they are rebellious.

Why do the people think so little of death?
Because the rulers demand too much of life.
Therefore the people take death lightly.

Having little to live on, one knows better than to value life too much.

2 thoughts on “Taking Death Lightly

  1. Maybe this could be our theme tune. 🙂

    Eastern mysticism is no universal solution but some of it contains things that we in the west lack. There are elements encompassed within the Tao that our erstwhile rulers would do well to absorb. They’re about as opposite to the concept of effortless motion as you can get right now.

  2. Lao Tsu is speaking on old imperial feudal society.
    In Lao’s time the king decided, but we are electing the leaders of our own demise.
    Until we turn this around, we are destined to be our own executioner: slow death by spiritual withering. No valiant death here.
    No wonder old Lao gave up on improving society and lived alone, at some point we may have to too.

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