“The more you buy, the less you have” – Parent’s Tao Te Ching – Verse 47

This is poem 47 from the Tao and the Parent’s Tao.  I wrote about William Martin’s book because his simple words are more compelling than those of any ‘parenting manual’ I’ve read.  (Link to Parent’s Tao Changed my Attitude on ‘Parenting‘)

Martin writes the 81 poems of the Tao for parents and I return to them often when I find myself vexed or rudderless.

Fall is my favorite season, but each year it’s also a signal directing us back to school, activities, sports, lessons, and the requisite papers, projects, games, and recitals.  It’s easy to resent the demands on our lives, especially for someone like myself who is not the most maternal, nurturing parent.   This helps me appreciate the ‘treasured moments’ and ‘sacred time’ I have with my children.

47. Providing For

by William Martin

Your children will make many demands
upon your time and energy.
“Do this for us.
Buy this for us.”
They believe that these things
are what they want from you.
And you may begin
to believe it too.
 
But what they really want
is your innermost heart,
given in vulnerable, honest love.
This is not given
by doing or buying.
The more you do,
the less gets done.
The more you buy,
the less you have.
But if you reveal
your true nature,
you provide them everything.
 
Of course there are times,
when I do for my children.
It is often my great pleasure.
But the things remembered,
the treasured moments
of sacred time,
have occurred
in the quiet
of gentle conversation,
and honest sharing.
 
Lau Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, 6th - 4th century B.C.

Lau Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching, between 6th & 4th century B.C.

Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching against his own wishes, saying that the very moment he attempted to write it, it was lost.  I’m glad he did.  Words can never embody the Tao, but it is an attempt to show us the way.  Here you see the original poem and how helpful Martin’s interpretation is for parents.

Chapter 47, Tao Te Ching

by Lao Tzu

The world may be known
Without leaving the house;
The Way may be seen
Apart from the windows.
The further you go,
The less you will know.
 
Accordingly, the Wise Man
Knows without going,
Sees without seeing,
Does without doing.

Paraphrase:  “The inner world of a man reflects the world around him; the principles of both worlds are the same. Certainty is to be found only in the heart; confusion is bred in the outer world.”  (Tao Te Ching, R.B. Blakney’s translation, 2007)

About mylinhshattan

MyLinh B. Shattan is a writer who has worked in the private sector, taught at college, and served in the U.S. Army. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics from West Point, an M.B.A. from Florida Southern College, and an M.F.A. in Writing from Queens University.