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The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, [1905], at

p. 16


It is better to leave alone, than to grasp at fullness.

Sharpness, which results from filing, cannot be preserved.

None can protect the hall that is filled with gold and jade.

Opulence, honors, pride, necessarily bequeath calamity.

Merit established, a name made, then retirement—this is the way of Heaven. 1

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone," says Thoreau.

"In praying, use not vain repetitions as the Gentiles do." "When ye fast, be not as the hypocrites of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen of men to fast." Such "grasping at fulness" had better be left alone.

"Meat will not commend us to God: neither, if we eat not, do we lack." Asceticism which begins and which ends in the outer leaves the heart without permanent trace; it is a sharpness which is filed; it leads to self-assertion, to pride and to disputations. "Each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ." Minds full of names and parties are as vulnerable as a "hall filled with gold and jade."

Honors are shadowed by calamities; therefore "I thank God that I baptized none of you.… We are fools for Christ's sake.… While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seer: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

"Merit established, a name made, then retirement—this is the way of heaven."


16:1 Literally—"Heaven's Tao."

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