DiscoverThe Tao Te Ching for Everyday LivingTao Te Ching Verse 74: Disqualifying Ourselves from Managing
Tao Te Ching Verse 74: Disqualifying Ourselves from Managing

Tao Te Ching Verse 74: Disqualifying Ourselves from Managing

Update: 2021-02-19
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Tao Te Ching Verse 74

translated by Frederic Henry Balfour

If people do not fear death why attempt to frighten them by capital punishment?
Supposing the people are made constantly afraid of death, so that when they commit unlawful acts I arrest them and have them killed, who will dare [afterwards to misbehave]? For then there will always be yiu-sze, or civil magistrates, to execute them.
Now the execution of men on behalf of the inflictor of the death-punishment [by those not legally qualified to do so] may be compared to hewing on behalf of a master carpenter;
and people who [attempt to] hew instead of a master carpenter mostly cut their hands.

Photo by Wonderlane on Unsplash

The Master Carpenter’s Hatchet

Did you ever try to unload your worry onto someone, calling it venting?  But deep down, you just needed someone else to worry about it other than you because you were tired of it?  Uncomfortable though it is to admit, I catch myself doing this once in a while with my spouse.  Or sometimes when I feel insecure about something, I need to see that others feel the same way so I don’t feel as bad?  I mean, one part of that is me looking for solidarity, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  But the other, sneakier, darker part of me is wanting someone else to shoulder the responsibility of being concerned about something that’s bothering me.

For me, there is such a fine line there that is so easily blurred.  How do I know when I’m crossing it?  

Two ways: I either realize what I’m doing when I see the other person start to own my feelings for me - or the whole thing just doesn’t stick.  You know, when you sit down with that person, have a heart to heart, and tell them they need to worry about so and so or such and such.  And they shrug and say, ‘not my problem.’  And idk about you, when this happens, I feel like I’ve slammed into a crick wall, nose first.  I really hate the way that feels.  For a long time, I allowed that to create resentment between me and others.  How dare they, I would say.  I’m just trying to show you something that will make things better for you.  I’m just trying to get you to see things so you don’t have to learn them the hard way.  

But aren’t I really just being lazy by trying to escape vulnerability?  If I am successful in projecting my insecurity on to someone, I feel somehow like I’ve dealt with it.  Only I haven’t - I’ve just given it to someone else to deal with.  And you know what’s even more heinous?  That person may deal with it in a healthy manner - perhaps - but perhaps that person won’t, and perhaps they’ll try to give it back.  Like in a lot of different ways - as humans, we are cunning creatures that have this ability to use language, circumstances, and imagination to convince ourselves and others that reality looks a certain way.  So even if the other person tries to give it back directly and I reject that attempt, it will come out in other ways, ways of which I’m not even aware.

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Tao Te Ching Verse 74: Disqualifying Ourselves from Managing

Tao Te Ching Verse 74: Disqualifying Ourselves from Managing

Dan Casas-Murray