Tao Te Ching Chapter 12

The five colors make man’s eyes blind;
The five notes make his ears deaf;
The five tastes injure his palate;

Riding and hunting
Make his mind go wild with excitement;
Goods hard to come by serve to hinder his progress.

Hence the sage is for the belly
Not for the eye.

Therefore he discards the one and takes the other.

D. C. Lau

The five colors blind the eye.
The five tones deafen the ear.
The five flavors dull the taste.

Racing and hunting madden the mind.
Precious things lead one astray.

Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees.

He lets go of that and chooses this.

Jane English & Gia-fu Feng


The senses can be overwhelmed and overwhelming.

The seeker in pursuit has a frantic mind.

Desire for and attachment to hard-earned, guarded treasure hinders progress.

Give up pursuit; you have what you seek.

Give up your precious treasures.

Give up pursuit of that which is outside you.

Choose what you have and know and feel in the center of you.

The sage within you knows the way.


Frantic minds and guarded treasure and pursuit. Give it up? Hell, no! I have pursued these treasures my whole life. I have hard-won wisdoms from hard experience, hard-won judgments, possessions, status, attainments. They’re my treasures, and if you knew any better they’d be yours too…

 When I see your lack of treasure – and I will – I will give your eyes and ears and palate a load of mine. See, I will say, you can have what I have, what you do not have. Here am I, to your betterment, frantically seeking validation of the value of my tightly clenched treasures, desperately hammering me on top of you like an old flattened tin can with contents labeled “Me.”


And from this low level of unconsciousness comes the waking moment, the sudden burst of light, the point of no return to darkness:

…From this moment on I loved you

Somewhere in between I learned

I’m just reaching out to touch you…

It’s the point of no return.

I just realized

I just realized

I just realized…

Who am I, who am I,

Who am I telling you?

JJ Cale, Who Am I Telling You

5 Responses to Tao Te Ching Chapter 12

  1. Louis W. says:

    What is satori, Alex?

    Now I would like to try “Why does sudden enlightenment take so darn long” for $200.

    No. Wait. I don’t need that any more. I think I’ll listen to more JJ Cale.

  2. bobgriffith says:

    This has instantly become one of my all-time favorite replies. I’ll listen with you…

  3. Harmony Grifith says:

    Oops, indeed. *goes and listens to JJ Cale as well*

  4. bobgriffith says:

    How do I love it when speaking ends and listening begins?
    Let me count the ways…
    No, wait.
    *goes to the JJ Cale neighborhood party* ;)

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