Banish wisdom, discard knowledge,
And the people shall profit a hundredfold;
Banish humanity, discard justice,
And the people shall recover love of their kin;
Banish cunning, discard utility,
And the thieves and brigands shall disappear.
As these three focus on the external and are inadequate,
And the people need what they can depend upon:
Reveal thy simple self,
Embrace thy original nature,
Check thy selfishness,
Curtail thy desires.
(Translated by Yu Tang Lin)
Throw away holiness and wisdom,
and people will be a hundred times happier.
Throw away morality and justice,
and people will do the right thing.
Throw away industry and profit,
and there won’t be any thieves.
If these three aren’t enough,
just stay at the center of the circle
and let all things take their course.
Here, Lao Tzu tells us that everything that exists is impermanent, The Dao is emptiness, void, and nothingness. Why do we insist on continually arguing?
Just see the essence and grab the root. Don’t be tired of foreign things, nor become trapped by chaos. Yes, come back to the origin and search within, not without, and all things will take their course, naturally.
I found a story told by Osho (Tao: The Three Treasures) that illustrates this well.
There is a beautiful Jewish parable: It happened in a certain village where whenever there was some difficulty, the rabbi would go to the forest and perform a magic ritual and pray to God, and always then the village was helped.
Then the rabbi died. Another rabbi succeeded him. There was some difficulty, so the next rabbi went to the forest. He didn’t know the exact place so he said to God: “I don’t know where the old rabbi performed his ritual, so I will do it anywhere – you are everywhere, so you can listen from everywhere.” He performed the ritual where he was, and the village was helped.
Then he died, and another young man followed. Again there was some difficulty. The man went to the forest, and he said to God: “I don’t know the place or the ritual, but you know all, so what is the point of doing it? I simply pray to you: Save my village from this difficulty.” And the village was helped.
Then that man died. Then another young man took his place, and the village was again in difficulty. The young man never went to the forest. He sat in his chair, and he said, “Listen! I don’t know the place
where the old rabbis used to go, I don’t know the ritual, I don’t know the prayer that they used to say, but I will tell you a story – and I know you love stories – please help my village.” And he told a story, and the village was helped.