Tao-te ching Comments

Avoid Excessive Effort

    If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to effect this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed. The kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp loses it.

    The course and nature of things is such that
    What was in front is now behind;
    What warmed anon we freezing find.
    Strength is of weakness oft the spoil;
    The store in ruins mocks our toil.

    Hence the sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, and easy indulgence. (Ch. 29, Legge version.)


The key of this chapter is the final conclusion: "The sage puts away excessive effort". Why? Because everything in the world change into his/its opposite. Therefore one who wishes to win the kingdom through his effort will soon lose it. The same, he who would hold in his grasp (something) will soon lose it.

Effortless is the way of wining kingdoms and keeping things without losing them.

Commentary by Jhian



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