Forget moderation, go for substance!


12. Substance

Too much color blinds the eye

Too much music deafens the ear

Too much taste dulls the palate

Too much play maddens the mind

Too much desire tears the heart

In this manner the sage cares for people

He provides for the belly not for the senses

He ignores abstraction and holds fast to substance

Translation variously sourced and compiled at

Are these words to counsel for moderation in all things?  Why is it that we are wired up for moderation, for balance? Seems like an odd question to ask and yet, why must we moderate our lives, in all aspects?

It is as if the entire universe observes the principles of homeostasis.  When you go too far in one direction, there is a self-regulating mechanism that kicks in to redress the imbalance.  But why is it an imbalance?  Why can’t we just remain at one end, in one polarity?

Perhaps it is because our potential is widely distributed over infinite possibilities and when we focus only on some, we deny the rest and that interferes with our ability to flow fully and freely in Source, in the Way.

But Lao Tze is not just talking about moderation.  In fact, what he says here has less to do with moderation than it does with anchoring ourselves to the ground of being, to ‘substance’.  Substance is beyond abstractions or dualities or polarities.  It is beyond the flimsiness of sensations.  Substance is free, limitless and whole.  Substance is the true source of life.

Ah, that I be anchored in substance!

Lucy Lopez

Learning to live the wisdom of the Tao post by post!