Fame or the self, which is dearer?
The self or wealth, which is greater?
Gain or loss, which is more painful?
Thus excessive love must lead to great spending
Excessive hoarding must lead to heavy loss
Knowing contentment avoids disgrace
Knowing when to stop avoids danger
Thus one can endure indefinitely
The lesson shared by Lao Tzu in this Forty-Forth Verse of the Tao is simple. True contentment cannot be attained from anything in this physical/material world. Worldly sources of happiness are superficial and often hook you into not only wanting more but needing more in order to sustain the illusion of contentment.
True contentment is the natural result of the cultivation of your character and living in an authentic manner fueled by an open heart that is capable of being vulnerable and compassionate. True contentment is a state of gratitude for all you are, all you are capable of and all you are invited to contribute toward.
“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want but the realization of how much you already have.” Anonymous