The Way of Generosity

True words aren’t charming
Charming words aren’t true.
Good people aren’t contentious,

Contentious people aren’t good.
People who know aren’t learned,
Learned people don’t know.
Wise souls don’t hoard;
The more they do for others the more they have,
The more they give, the richer they are.
The Way of heaven profits without destroying.
Doing without outdoing
Is the Way of the wise.

Tao Te Ching #81 rendered by Ursula K. Le Guin

This is the last chapter of the ancient Chinese Taoist scripture, the Tao Te Ching. It ends the way it begins by repeating a constant theme. The Way is always found in balance between two opposing kinds of energy that complete each other–like true words and charming words; good people and contentious people; learned and knowing; yin and yang; dark and light.

This last chapter brings to focus what the wise ones know about generosity. They don’ hoard–anything. In fact,what they have come to experience is that the more they give, the richer they are. As we approach the end of this month of reflection on generosity, I submit that if you were to go back and re-read all of the reflections given here, you would find this same wisdom–the more we give, the richer we are. This wisdom also knows that true profit happens without destroying. Capitalism seems to have missed the memo on that. 

The balanced way is captured in those last words.  Doing without outdoing. Apply that to anything and everything, and some wisdom will arise. 

~Bob Patrick

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