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Lao Tzu: Rulers of the degenerate ages

Lao Tzu: Rulers of the degenerate ages
Photo: Religious dignitary on rickshaw in China, 1930.



Lao-tzu said:
Rulers of the degenerate ages mined mountain minerals, took the metals and gems, split the polished shells, melted bronze and iron; so nothing flourished. They opened the bellies of pregnant animals, burned the meadowlands, overturned nests and broke the eggs; so phoenixes did not alight, and unicorns did not roam about. They cut down trees to make buildings, burned woodlands for fields, over-flashed lakes to exhaustion. They piled up earth so that they could live on hills, and dug into the ground so that they could drink from wells. They deepened rivers to make reservoirs, constructed city walls that they considered secure, penned up animals and domesticated them. 
Thus yin and yang were confused: the four seasons lost their order, thunder and lightening caused destruction, hail and frost caused damage. Many beings died early, plants and trees withered in summer, the main rivers stopped flowing. Mountains, rivers, valleys and canyons were divided and made to have boundaries; the sizes of groups of people were calculated and made to have specific numbers. Machinery and blockades were built for defense, the colors of clothing were regulated to differentiate socioeconomic classes, rewards and penalties were meted out to the good and the unworthy. Thus armaments developed and struggle arose; from this there began slaughter of the innocent.
(Lao Tzu)


Source and Recommended Reading:
'Wen-Tzu: Understanding the Mysteries'
By Lao Tzu (Author), Thomas Cleary (Translator)
Purchase Book:

Lao-tzu, the legendary sage of ancient China, is traditionally considered to be the author of the "Tao Te Ching, "one of the most popular classics of world literature. Now Lao-tzu's further teachings on the Tao, or Way, are presented here in the first English translation of the Chinese text known as the "Wen-tzu." Although previously ignored by Western scholars, the "Wen-tzu" has long been revered by the Chinese as one of the great classics of ancient Taoism. In it, Lao-tzu shows that the cultivation of simplicity and spontaneity is essential to both the enlightened individual and the wise leader. This timeless work will appeal to a broad audience of contemporary readers who have come to consider Lao-tzu's "Tao Te Ching " a classic on the art of living.
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