End sagacity; abandon knowledge
The people benefit a hundred times
End benevolence; abandon righteousness
The people return to piety and charity
End cunning; discard profit
Bandits and thieves no longer exist
These three things are superficial and insufficient
Thus this teaching has its place:
Show plainness; hold simplicity
Reduce selfishness; decrease desires
In this nineteenth verse of the Tao, Lao Tzu is trying to make us more aware that the level of stress we experience in our lives is directly related to the strength of our Ego’s attachment to the stuff (prestige, status, symbols of importance) we have in our lives and our ego driven need for approval and recognition from outside sources.
The Ego is that part of the soul which resonates to the illusions of the material and external world. It is vital to understand that the Ego’s needs are fear based needs. It constantly torments you with the words, what if… What if I lose this? What if I can’t make this happen? What if he/she is not pleased? It mutates the goal of being in harmony with the Great Oneness and feeling a sense of connection with all things into the need for acquiring more status and being better than others so that you will be seen as worthy of love and inclusion.
Once you equate being loved as being admired for your achievements you will constantly be on the defensive and you will always experience a sense of lacking in some way. You will be fueled by a need for more; so you’ll drive yourself harder. Your Ego will never be satisfied. It can never know contentment or wholeness. It cannot connect to the Great Oneness. Its only reality is an overwhelming sense of separateness and of being alone.
Acknowledging that your Ego is at work is the first step to re-establishing balance and connectedness. The technique is similar to realizing that your mind has wandered and you are now caught up in thought while you are trying to mediate. When you are meditating and find yourself thinking we are taught to simply acknowledge the moment as Thinking and gently, with some sense of humor toward your own humanness, return to the meditative process.
This is exactly what you need to do when you find yourself being dominated by fear-based thinking coming from your Ego. When you feel the fear and all that it stirs up inside you pause, acknowledge the fear as your Ego trying to take over. Then stop the what if story line. Gently, with the same loving kindness toward yourself that you would show any other person in distress breathe, smile at yourself and let go.
This will take practice. Remember, all our Ego based fears are deeply rooted. Do not sabotage yourself by thinking you can master this technique quickly. Just have patience and the faith that you will be stronger with time. Support this effort with other energetic approaches. Massage, reflexology, yoga, Bach Remedies whatever it takes.
As you feel stronger you will begin to be able to peel back the layers of why you feel the sense of attachment you do to all things Ego based. This is where the path to true personal growth begins. Walk slowly down that path without judgment or retribution. It is an adventure toward living authentically.