The people are hungry:
It is because those in authority eat up too much in taxes,
That the people are hungry.
The people are difficult to govern:
It is because those in authority are too fond of action,
That the people are difficult to govern.
The people treat death lightly:
It is because the people set too much store by life,
That they treat death lightly.
It is just because one has no use for life that one is wiser than the man who
If I set too much store by life, I eat up too much in taxes. I TAX my life’s time and energy to pursue my ideals and desires. And then, just as shown here, I end up hungry—or rather my soul ends up hungry. It is a vicious circle; the hunger drives me to eat up even more of my life chasing ideals and desires in the hopes of finally being able to satiate the hunger.
My own life is difficult to govern when I’m too fond of action. All action carries with it a degree of chaos. The more fond of action I am, the more chaotic my life. I think I’m tempted to overdo action because it gives me a sense (false) of purpose. It also serves as an escape from facing the deeper realities of my life. Of course, if I were walking about the savanna all day poking around for food, action would seldom be a problem!
One benefit of democratic rule may be that it takes longer to get anything done. A consensus rule would probably be even better, for everyone has to agree before the group takes action. Of course this is all very frustrating to those of us who are fond of action.
Being too fond of action pulls me toward new projects without having first finished the old. It also puts maintenance duties on a lower priority. Life can become a constant hopping from one novelty to the next in a pursuit of a happy tomorrow, instead of slowing down and savoring ‘yesterday’s tomorrow’.
When I have no use for life, I’m able to enter into it and live life to the fullest. This reminds me of insomnia—the more I cling to sleep, the further from sleep I get. What I value, I cling to, and what I cling to brings me grief—one way or the other. Thus, I’m wiser when I’m able to let go of life a bit.
Set too much store by life parallels Jesus: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
Youth is the season to set too much store by life. After all, If you would have a thing laid aside, You must first set it up [see ch. 36].
My use for life biases me on whatever aspects of life I value. The problem with this is that this bias limits wisdom. The medical profession is a good example. It values life to such an extent that it robs death of its eternal dignity, often making ‘heroic’ efforts to prolong life just another few months. You can’t pull the plug on that which you value, even when wisdom calls for it.
It’s easy to confuse having use for life or valuing life with appreciation. Appreciation is savoring the moment, not clinging to the continuation of moments. Instinctually we want to hold on, but this hinders the deepest appreciation.
The more people value life, the easier it is for tyrants to control them. You can’t intimidate one who has no use for life. When I place principle (duty) ahead of pleasure (immediate gratification), I tend to live a wiser and happier life. When I value life and expect it to be a certain way, I easily become a victim of circumstances and lose integrity.