Lao Tzu’s Utopia

I was recently re-reading the Tao Te Ching. I was struck by the verse titled ‘Utopia’ which I reproduce here without the permission of Lao Tzu, who passed away in the 4th century BC:

‘Let your community be small, with only a few people;
Keep tools in abundance, but do not depend upon them;

Appreciate your life and be content with your home;
Sail boats and ride horses, but don’t go too far;
Keep weapons and armor, but do not employ them;
Let everyone read and write,
Eat well and make beautiful things.

Live peacefully and delight in your own society;
Dwell within cock-crow of your neighbors,
But maintain your independence from them.’

I want for similar things.

In my life I have always wanted to live in the peace and quiet of the country, with the elements and the natural world sculpting the day, rather than people.

Wherever I have lived I’ve longed to hear the wind rather than the noise of my neighbors or of people passing by. And to not be burdened by the wishes and customs of other people.

As I’ve grown older I’ve wanted a simpler life. A life of savoring the necessities. To not be bothered by the drone of advertising and of chasing the latest thing. To enjoy the old coat and boots. And when they wear out, to hope that the new ones wear as well.

I’ve wanted to have enjoyable and challenging work that allows me the freedom and the time to enjoy life. I’ve wanted to be free of stress so that I may enjoy what I have.

I’ve wanted a simple home. A place to escape to. A place that is cozy. A place that can be maintained by me. A place that is not an expense.

It’s been my hope that I could share the happiness and simple abundance that I have with others. And to teach my children this as well so that they could then learn the simple truths of life and follow their hearts where they wish.

I have friends and family, but the number of people close to me is small, and this suits me well.

I often wonder if such a utopia was easier to obtain in the 4th century BC than it is now?

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