The Tao of No Place Like Home

by Bob Schwartz

These words from Verse 80 of the Tao Te Ching could come from the Wizard of Oz:

let there be another state so near
people hear its dogs and chickens
but live out their lives
without making a visit

In other words, there is no place like home.

The force of exploration, discovery and progress is strong with us. This post, for example, is drafted on an amazing digital device, edited on another amazing digital device, and published on an amazing global network. Moving house and traveling are easier and more convenient than ever. So many modern tools. So big a world.

Verse 80 proposes a different view. Labor-saving tools not used. Boats and carts not ridden. Knots used to communicate (a pre-writing system). Pleased and content with clothing and goods. You may think that this is regress, the opposite of progress. But is it? In your heart, is that what you believe?

Imagine a small state with a small population
let there be labor-saving tools
that aren’t used
let people consider death
and not move far
let there be boats and carts
but no reason to ride them
let there be armor and weapons
but no reason to employ them
let people return to the use of knots
and be satisfied with their food
and pleased with their clothing
and content with their homes
and happy with their customs
let there be another state so near
people hear its dogs and chickens
but live out their lives
without making a visit

Lao-tzu’s Taoteching, translated by Red Pine

 

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