The Tao Te Ching: Verse Fifty

Coming into life, entering death
The followers of life, three in ten
The followers of death, three in ten
Those whose lives are moved toward death
Also three in ten
Why? Because they live lives of excess

I’ve heard of those who are good at cultivating life
Traveling on the road, they do not encounter rhinos or tigers
Entering into an army, they are not harmed by weapons
Rhinos have nowhere to thrust their horns
Tigers have nowhere to clasp their claws
Soldiers have nowhere to lodge their blades
Why? Because they have no place for death

                                                                                                       Lao Tzu

Have you ever know someone who was good at cultivating life? You know that rare soul who seems to take everything as it comes, finds humor in the smallest events and just resonates with contentment. You can’t help but feel calmer in their presence; as if being in the proximity of their energy felt like a cool cream on burnt skin. How I wish every professional and family caregiver could adopt this temperament; for this approach to life, referenced in this Fiftieth Verse of the Tao, is a nature resilient to Suffering.

Eastern philosophy teaches that the basis of all human pain lies in our self-imposed suffering which is better translated as our discontent. While it is acknowledged that suffering/discontent is an inescapable part of life; it is the paradoxical quest for a life free from discontent that is at the core of our torment.

This paradox begins with our resistance to our own mortality. We will die. Yet how many of us crave attachment to excess as though the accumulation of more power, more status, more money, and more stuff was going to change the outcome of the game. Let’s face it; the real Nobel Truth here is that you cannot take it with you! Let’s just say we are successful in attaining that which we crave; does it not follow that we have now doomed ourselves to a life filled with the worry that we may somehow lose it? This is fear-based living (suffering); and so the cycle goes.

I want to be clear. I would be the last person to speak against lifelong learning and using each and every gift you were blessed with or cultivated to its fullest. The cautionary note here is to continue as if death or perhaps it is better put; the Impermanence of all things was a myth. Doing so dooms you to die a little with each disappointment.

You see, the secret to being good at cultivating life is to mindfully weave the awareness of the life you presently have into each day and allow the vibration of gratitude to ripple through you. Acknowledge that waiting to be happy is a sinful waste of time. Instead, chose to find the simple joys in the daily events that accumulate over time to be a life filled with happy moments. This is heart-based living.

Accepting the truth of Impermanence, is not the same as resigning oneself to the inevitable but rather understanding that all things have a lifespan. This fact does not shield you from any bereavement for person, place or thing that has moved on; but it does allow you to continue with life sooner guided by the faith that all is how it should be.


One thought on “The Tao Te Ching: Verse Fifty

  1. I am a caregiver and I am also a healing touch practitioner. Bringing the standard of caregiving to the highest degree. I agree whole heartedly, that we as caregivers need always to strive for a balance of holistic purity and wellness, thus transforming each individual caregiving situation into a devine happening. Nameste

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