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Freedom Founts

Source Materials About Freedom


1. When the Dào prevails in the world, they send back their swift horses to (draw) the dung-carts. When the Dào is disregarded in the world, the war-horses breed in the border lands.


2. There is no guilt greater than to sanction ambition; no calamity greater than to be discontented with one's lot; no fault greater than the wish to be getting. Therefore the sufficiency of contentment is an enduring and unchanging sufficiency.

Legge's Comments

儉欲, 'The Moderating of Desire or Ambition.' The chapter shows how the practice of the Dào must conduce to contentment and happiness. In translating par. 1 I have, after Wú Chéng, admitted a after the , his chief authority for doing so being that it is so found in a poetical piece by Zhāng Héng (A. D. 78–139)1. Zhū Xī also adopted this reading (朱子大全, XVIII, 7 a). In par. 2, Hán Yīng has a tempting variation of 多欲 for 欲, but I have not adopted it because the same phrase occurs elsewhere.

  1. The dates may be incorrect as they appear to be those of a scientist by the same name, rather than the Daoist leader who probably wrote the poem. ↩︎