The five colours make man’s eyes blind;
The five notes make his ears deaf;
The five tastes injure his palate;
Riding and hunting
Make his mind go wild with excitement;
Goods hard to come by
Serve to hinder his progress.
I yearn for something hard to come by when that something becomes a vehicle for increasing my self worth. I need this boost of self worth when my simple life feels deficient; I’m taking the mysterious sameness [see ch. 56]. of life for granted, but goods hard to come by never return me to it.
Which is it? Do I first lose contentment which causes me to seek goods hard to come by, or in the pursuit of goods hard to come by, do I thus lose contentment? Maybe a combination of both.
I know the senses are powerful and seek stimulation, be it five tastes, notes, or colors. But really, the heart of this problem has more to do with the civilized conditions I live under. In the past, our biologically based senses and instincts protected us when we were neolithic primates, but now these instincts lead us to overindulge and make our minds go wild with excitement. It’s a matter of circumstances. And thus, living a balanced life in a civilization requires me to be more actively conscious of the parameters—I’ve got to be more responsible if I’m to be happy. This is the trade-off that civilization’s gift of increased comfort and security requires.
It’s not really goods hard to come by that hinder my progress. It’s so easy to blame things i.e. TV, guns, drugs, and such. Then I don’t have to face the real question… why? It’s my craving for such that hinders me. I guess I get bored with the commonplace, and hunt for special things to enhance my ordinary life. What essential secret [see ch. 27], when forgotten, awakens and drives the desires for something extra?
Therefore the sage is
For the belly,
Not for the eye.
Therefore he discards the one and takes the other.
My eye is always beckoning me to that greener grass over yonder. It’s my instinct. And of course the whole society is likewise caught up in this frenzy for novelties as well. My sage self knows the vicious circle of following the eye, and to hear it in this chapter re-enforces this truth and helps me return to the belly. Simplicity is the path of sanity, and when I’m content to walk it, its simpler life soothes my soul.
I can’t help but go for the eye from time to time—less though as the years go by. I once tried to fight against it and live a ‘pure’ life. Such rigidity didn’t work, and was fake in any case. So, I go for the eye when I’m so compelled, but at least now I know happiness doesn’t lie there. And, this alone helps me be for the belly more.
I’ve adopted discarding the one and taking the other as a statement of personal faith. I NO longer believe that happiness lies with the eye. But, as I’m human and have an eye, I play life’s game when I must, and then rest in contented bliss when grace allows.
There are two directions in life, forward and backward. My eye pushes me forward, my belly pulls me backward. Peace comes when the impatient push gives way to returning to the belly—I can consolidate and realize that less is better. Being content with less is the essential, but then there lies the hitch—when I’m not content, I push for more. The eye takes over when I lose touch with my belly. Feeling content is like a gift from God. I can’t force it.