Tag Archives: three treasures

Humility

The third is called not getting ahead in the world”

from verse 11, Chapter 67, Tao Te Ching

The verse above stating “not getting ahead in the world”, is stating the virtue of humility. This virtue, humility, is a complementary of compassion and conservation. In conserving spirit, you have transcended the self-important perspective of ego. Compassion is having loving kindness and caring for the suffering and well-being of others. The joining of compassion and conservation opens the door to a state of not striving to get ahead in the world or non-self importance. This state of being is humility. Humility or selflessness is the antithesis of ego.

As you gain skill at sovereignty, you gain more and more control over the ego. This is the point that the need for self-importance begins to reside. Neediness is a core principle of the ego-self. The need to have attention, to be seen as the best, to always win is how the ego spends its life. Seeking ”to get ahead in the world”, rather than being like water and seeking the low places” 1.

Like the hub of a wagon wheel, being empty of ego, humility gives function to so many other principles and virtues of the Tao.

Chapter 8: “The highest goodness resembles water,

Water benefits myriad things without contention

It stays in places that people dislike”

Therefore it is similar to the Tao

Chapter 22: “….be low and become filled

Be worn out and become renewed

Have little and receive

Have much and be confused

therefore the sages hold to the one as an example to the world

Without flaunting themselves, they are seen clearly

Without presuming themselves, and are distinguished

Without praising themselves, and so have merit

With boasting about themselves and so are lasting”..

Chapter 28 “…The eternal virtue does not deviate

Return to the state of the boundless

Know the honor, hold the humility”…

Chapter 39 “The honored uses the lowly as a basis

The higher uses the lower as a foundation…”

Chapter 66 “ Rivers and oceans can be the kings of a hundred valleys

Because of their goodness in staying low

So they can be kings of a hundred valleys

Thus is sage wish to be over people

They must speak humbly to them…”

The inherent power of humility the first two treasures possible. Because you are not trying to get ahead in the world, your spirit resides in compassion. Because of your humility you are free from the greedy desire of ego never caring for conservation. The ego is too hungry with desire, it is ignorant to conserving resources. Through Sovereignty, you can engage the inherent powers of the three treasures and experience a long joyful life.

Humility is the principle and centerpiece for so many insights within the Tao. Humility opens the mystic door to the insight that those who are blinded by ego/desire/self-importance cannot see or comprehend the power of humility. Humility is the gateway to the Tao.

1See the chapter on Softness

Conservation

the second is called conservation

verse 10 from Chapter 67, Tao Te Ching

The second of the three virtues is conservation. Conservation is the virtue of preserving, protecting, not being wasteful and using resources in a wise method. It is used in both material and non-material aspects of life.

Examples:

Material resources: money, home, clothes, car etc.

Non-material resources: friendship, relationships, energy, time etc.

These material and non-material things in life are limited. Since they can be used up, it is important to take care of things that can be hard to replace. Your most important resource is life. Life is limited for everyone, therefore you must learn to conserve your life so that you can endure successfully. Sovereignty is the self-disciplined management of ego so that you don’t waste your life experience. Longevity and endurance depend on skillfully managing your resources so that your biggest resource, life, can be long and full.

Conservation has complementary relationships with other virtues such as moderation, patience, harmony and mystic virtue. When you practice patience, you can use your resources in moderation to keep balance and harmony in your life. Longevity, endurance, prosperity, and harmony are all inherent powers of conservation.

Conservation of Spirit. (constancy)

The foreword section of this book defines life as a sacred journey of experience. You are called to be awake, aware and experiencing life to gain wisdom. Successful realization of sovereignty can only happen when you continually return to self-awareness and unity with the Tao. This constantly returning/awakening is called constancy.1

Conservation of spirit is one of the highest virtue. Conservation of spirit empowers you to manage the ego and desire so that you do not deplete your resources. As always it comes back to conservation of spirit to be mindful of choices. Choosing actions that conserve both intangible and tangible assets is key to longevity and avoiding suffering and death.

Remember, your actions are like ripples in a pond. We are all connected. Your compassion or your indifference can affect so many. When you deplete your spiritual awareness and make selfish choices, the result can affect others. When you stupidly waste your life, others must sacrifice some of their own resources to help you start over. Those with compassion are willing to help. However, it is important to know that compassion from others can have a limit along with patience. If you hit bottom and have a chance to start over, you must use the gifts of compassion from others to help yourself return to harmony. Gratitude for assistance can go a long way.

The penalty for continuing to be the prisoner of ego and self-serving narcissism is dealt out by karma. Karma2 sometimes called “the great executioner” does not play favorites. Any notion of “it can’t happen to me” will be crushed. Karma is the result of your own ignorance choices. You must be honest with yourself and realize your actions. Conservation is a virtue that the Sovereign works at to build wisdom. You must be mindful of your resources and keep harmony in your life.

1See the chapter on Constancy. Section Two Chapter

2See the Chapter on Karma, chapter 10, section one.

Compassion

I have three treasures

I hold on to them and protect them

The first is called compassion

verses 7,8, and 9, Chapter 67 Tao Te Ching

Compassion is a conviction of love and kindness for another being. It is a virtue that comes from the heart. The Sovereign, as a spiritual being, recognizes the spirit in other living beings. Note that the sovereign does not discriminate in its recognition of other living beings. As human beings, we share the planet with a very large number of other beings, who just happen to dwell in a different body. The Tao is not exclusive to humans and an argument can be made that plenty of beings in the animal world are closer in unity with nature (Tao) than a lot of humanity. But at least for the beginner on the path, compassion (loving kindness) for other humans is a useful place to begin.

As discussed earlier, true virtues have inherent powers. The inherent power of compassion is true courage.

“compassionate, thus able to have true courage”, verse 12

It is important that you study an accurate translation of the Tao Te Ching. The character for compassion sometimes gets translated as “pity”. However, pity is too far off the mark and will not make sense when consideration of the deeper study of compassion especially when used in verse 12. The inherent power is revealed when you realize that true courage comes from compassion. Pity (feeling sorry for someone) and empathy are important, may focus more on victimization. When you insert the word pity instead of compassionate in verse 12, you can see where it falls short.

Example: Pity, thus able to have true courage.

True compassion can be seen easily when you think of a parent/child relationship. Better yet, is to consider the mother/child bond.

Courage is sometimes confused with bravado or showing off by doing something dangerous. 1 Courage by virtue of compassion can be seen when the mother comes to the defense of her child. It is not just a human attribute. This compassionate courage can be seen throughout nature. Just as a human mother will not hesitate to face great odds against her, mother in nature will do the same. The internet is full of videos showing animal mothers protecting their young against dangerous predators. Even in our own homes, you can see dog or cat mothers standing up for their babies against anything they feel is a danger. This is true courage and is sourced in the love and selfless compassion for their children. The inherent power of compassion is not limited to mothers. You too can practice compassion (loving kindness, caring) and realize the power of true courage.

So you can begin to see that compassion is a specific kind of love and caring. Love has several perspectives including self-love, romantic love, or adoration for a material thing. This type of love is for someone or others. It doesn’t have to be for your children or family, it can be for your community or country. It is having compassion, love, and kindness for other than yourself.

One more area of compassion to focus on.

If one fights with compassion, then victory,” verse 20

Fighting here is not in the martial sense, but more as a metaphor for the battles or struggles in life. Courage to successfully get through life’s battles can be found when we are fighting for something important other than just ourselves. It is working hard, persevering and enduring so that others may benefit in a good way. When your efforts are grounded in the compassion of helping someone outside of yourself courage will empower you to stick with the effort and to endure. In a very simplistic perspective, true courage is not found in ego bravado, it is found the selfless caring of something other than yourself.

1See the Chapter True Courage, Chapter 16 for clarity on courage vs bravery

The Three Treasures

The Three Treasures

Everyone in the world calls my Tao great

As if it is beyond compare

It is only because of its greatness

That it seems beyond compare

If it can be compared

It would already be insignificant long ago

I have three treasures

I hold on to them and protect them

The first is called compassion

The second conservation

The third called not daring to be ahead in the world

Compassionate thus able to have true courage

Conserving, thus able to reach widely

Not daring to be ahead in the world

Thus able to assume leadership

Now if one has courage but discards compassion

Reaches widely but discards conservation

Goes ahead but discards being behind

Then death

If one fights with compassion, then victory

With defense, then security

Heaven shall save them

And with compassion guard them

 Chapter 67, Tao Te Ching

It is understandable why Lao Tzu called these three virtues as treasures that he holds on to and protects. These three virtues are applicable in every aspect of life. Picking up from the last chapter of Constancy, returning to spirit is sometimes easier said than done. It takes years of practice in cultivating constancy. So I listed the three treasures as a recommended next step in keeping grounded within the Tao.

When combined the three treasures form a complementary foundation for the Sovereign path. Each one gives true context for the other two.

three treasures

Compassion harmonizes with Conservation and Humility

Conservation harmonizes with Humility and Compassion

Humility harmonizes with Compassion and Conservation

If you are just beginning your conscious effort of cultivating, start with these three. Use these three as your moral compass in everyday life. When you have practiced them long enough, they will become the default perspective as you develop your Tao strategies for moving around life’s problems and obstacles.

On a personal note, I consider these three treasure as one of the key or highest virtues. You could spend the rest of your life attending to your ability to follow just these three. It is worth the effort for yourself as well as the rest of the world.

In the first chapter, you read that the concept of this life experience as being a sacred journey. Now it is time to realize that this is the journey back home. Home is where you live. Spiritually speaking, home is a returning from striving in the world of form to the tranquility of stillness and being. The path back home is very hard if not impossible without following the path of virtue. I consider the three treasures very significant guides on the road back home.