Love, Moderation, Humility

 
I have three treasures I cherish and hold dear
the first is love
the second is moderation
the third is humility
With love one is fearless
With moderation one is abundant
With humility one can fill the highest position
Now if one is fearless but has no love
abundant but has no moderation
rises up but has no humility
Surely he is doomed
– From Verse 67 of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu as translated by Jonathan Star
 

How often do we long for courage, abundance, and power?  Yet when we see others who have one or all of these are they truly happy or admirable?

The other day I saw a show about the motocross phenomenon Travis Pastrana.  He is truly fearless on the track. The move he is known for is scissor-kicking his legs back during a jump while holding the handle bars with one hand and the rear fender with the other.  Travis is also the first biker to complete a double backflip in competition. He has won every competition imaginable.  He has broken bones I have never heard of and still returns to the track to try even more outrageous and dangerous stunts.  People worship his apparent fearlessness.  But in the evening, he is plagued by night terrors.  He sees visions and screams in his sleep almost every night since he was 11 years old.  Some psychologists say it is due to “repressed fear.”

We all know of people who may have abundance but no moderation.  My husband and I debated over who was a better example of this lesson.  Is Paris Hilton the best example?  She is a woman who has an exorbitant amount of cash at her disposal and buys everything she wants.  She buys friends and buys her way into celebrity.  But can she purchase self-worth and the true respect of others?  Or is the best example Donald Trump? The Don has been able to amass amazing amounts of money over the years, but I do not believe he has ever had true wealth.  His desire and greed overcome any moderation. There is no satisfaction in what he owns for there is always the next conquest.  When is enough enough?  Can there be enjoyment in what he has since it is purchased for show and not to please his essential self?

Unfortunately in the political arena there are a plethora of individuals who rise up but have no humility.  Rod Blagojevich immediately pops into mind for this Illinoisan.  We have all heard about his antics leading up to and during his impeachment.  But did you also know that he actually used to grab stranger’s mobile phones and say, “Hi, this is the governor”?  Being elected does not make one noble.  Serving others makes one noble.  The position does not bestow power and esteem.  Humility and servitude endear the populous who then allow one to rise.

Are these people truly “doomed” as Lao Tzu says?  The word doomed is very strong and fatalistic, but is it the right word?  Can one truly have joy without love, enjoyment without moderation and prominence without humility?  Are we only living half a life if we focus on the flashy forceful aspects of abundance, stature, and fearlessness and we do not recognize the quiet power of love, moderation, and humility?  Are we doomed to a life half lived if we are not rooted in these three treasures?

In high school, I remember a time my freshman year when a friend was being bullied.  Without thought, I protected my friend.  It was an act of love.  It was not an act of force or a death wish like Travis or a desire for prominence.  The love for my friend fortified my nerves and removed my fear.

Share with us a time when you felt the power of using one of these simple treasures.  Or tell us about some examples of individuals who are truly living these treasures and therefore experiencing all the beauty and joy of life.

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