Ancient Wisdom: Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching – 3rd Verse Explained

Tao the Ching translates to The Classic Book of The Supreme Reality and its Perfect Manifestation, or The Book of the Way of Virtue. It contains deep wisdom in condensed form.

This short book – written by Chinese Sage Lao Tzu in the 6th century B. C. – is an ancient attempt to point us towards Truth.

Read my explanations of the 1st and 2nd verse here (1st), and here (2nd).


Putting a value on status
will cause people to compete
Hoarding treasure
will turn them into thieves
Showing off possessions
will disturb their daily lives

Thus the Sage rules
by stilling minds and opening hearts
by filling bellies and strengthening bones
He shows people how to be simple
and live without desires
To be content
and not look for other ways
With the people so pure
Who could trick them?
What clever ideas could lead them astray?

When action is pure and selfless
everything settles into its own perfect place

Breakdown of Verse 3

Labeling things as good or bad, valuable or invaluable, facilitates greed and comparison. It disturbs the natural balance of the world.

With great wisdom and power, comes great responsibility. The Sage knows this and governs by stilling minds and opening hearts. He knows that minimum interference ensures maximum stability. He has the patience to refrain from action before knowing exactly what to do, then to do as little as possible.

Those with great knowledge must remain open to their knowledge being proven wrong. Jumping to conclusions comes from a belief in separation – that this is true, and that is false.

The Sage rules by showing people that being content, pure, and not jumping to conclusions, allows things to work out in their own perfect way. The trees grow without comparing themselves to other trees, flowers blossom without scheming to steal sunlight from other flowers.

The joy from greed and longing is short-lived. Few things are as pleasing when we get them, as they were tempting when we longed for them.

We learn the value and multitude of what we have, by discovering how much it is that we do not need.

Everything is always already complete and perfect, but only for those who choose to see it.

About the author:

Vegard Paulsen is co-founder of Global Harmony Crew; a movement to transform the world through pointing people towards realizations of Truth, and helping them manifest their lives from love and joy.

Let’s move from separation to Unity together, and wake up this world in ecstatic joy!

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Translation of Tao Te Ching by Jonathan Star, found here.

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