Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Chapter 12

By Lao Tzu

Chapter 12

  • Now, we get what seems like a lecture on overstimulation.
  • We're told "the five colors" make us blind, "the five sounds" make us deaf, and "the five flavors" make us not able to taste anything.
  • You could most definitely interpret this other ways, but this could be warning us that indulging too much in the senses eventually ruins your enjoyment of them.
  • Like if you eat pounds of chocolate every day, eventually you want to puke whenever you see a bag of M&Ms.
  • Next, we're warned that racing and hunting can make us crazy.
  • We're guessing this isn't meant literally.
  • Instead, the TTC is warning us that it's a bad idea to be over-competitive and to constantly be searching for something.
  • This chapter wraps us by telling us that the sages care for "the stomach not the eyes" (12.6).
  • Like everything in the TTC, this could mean a billion things, but our theory is that it thinks we ought to focus on finding a deep sense of wellbeing, rather than worrying only about the superficial stuff we can see with our eyes.

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