ideas understandings intentions thoughts

Tao Te Ching Verse 80

Posted on February 8, 2023

In my drafts lie a smattering of documents related loosely to the theme of the meaning crisis. (What is the meaning crisis? Whatever you think it means.)

Here are their titles:

  • Local Investment Only
  • antifragile permaculture
  • From no place to one place
  • designing for utopia
  • [stream of consciousness] I don’t know what to do about the climate crisis
  • Are you super rich? Then you need a peasant.
  • And now this document as well (still untitled as I write this)

Tossed in the middle of these drafts is a conspicuous outlier: a document named “tao te ching verse 80”. I’ll paste it here for you (for me) :

Chapter 80 

Small countries with few people are best. 

Give them all of the things they want, and they will see that they do not need them. 

Teach them that death is a serious thing, and to be content to never leave their homes. 

Even though they have plenty of horses, wagons and boats, they won’t feel that they need to use them. 

Even if they have weapons and shields, they will keep them out of sight. 

Let people enjoy the simple technologies, let them enjoy their food, let them make their own clothes, let them be content with their own homes, and delight in the customs that they cherish. 

Although the next country is close enough that they can hear their roosters crowing and dogs barking, they are content never to visit each other all of the days of their life.

It seems to me that there is much too much to do. But what else is worthwhile?

“Worthwhile” – an ugly word – I’ve considered this conundrum before:

, a triangular conundrum I reached at the end of the aforementioned document “[stream of consciousness] I don’t know what to do about the climate crisis” (a conundrum I still haven’t solved). But shouldn’t it just be solved? Visit your family regularly… on bikes. A month-long bike ride (not round trip) with your wife, newborn, and three-year-old child, twice a year (once for Christmas, once for Summer vacation). The brutal cold of the midwest portion of the trip won’t bother me, at least.

The tao te ching speaks about abandoning your worldly ambitions – dulling your mind and strengthening your body – being content with what you have, in awareness – wu wei, maybe, effortless action (or inaction). But don’t I need at least some ambition to create Verse 80’s idyllic “country that I never ever want to leave”? (“yes, yes, let it be so,” whispers my inner self. “leave my ambitions be.”)

There are too many moving parts to control (“don’t control anything” – but I must control myself!).

So what do I do?, I ask myself, at the end of each of the listed drafts. The conclusion I inevitably reach, inevitably, each time, at the end. So what do I do?

So what do I write next?

“Go with the flow, but always have a plan. Live with vigor, live in awareness. Do not focus on the self as an end – use the self as a vessel. Prioritize… whatever needs to be prioritized. Prioritize whatever is worthwhile. Don’t overthink it, simply live it (but do think about it, if thinking must be prioritized). Just do it! Nike! Shia LaBeouf!”


I am here to signal an intention. I am here to state <what I believe><what I have come to understand> (at this age, at this time) to be the “best” “lifestyle” (for me) to “pursue”.

Writing is no substitute for doing, an idea that has contributed to that long list of drafts. Who am I to write about something I have no experience with? But how else, other than writing, can I share my <ideas><understandings><intentions><thoughts>? Why do I feel the need to share my <ideas><understandings><intentions><thoughts>?

  • That last question wasn’t rhetorical! “To signal my intention to others who may be on a similar path (those with similar <ideas><understandings><intentions><thoughts>) so that we may have the opportunity to support each other.”

So here is the writing (again, no substitute for doing) 👍

To “achieve” “harmony” through the aware practice of consciousness and permacultural self-sufficiency.

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