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If you want to become full, let yourself be empty. If you want to be reborn, let yourself die. If you want to be given everything, give up everything. – Leo Tzu

Vernon Sankey By
27th July 2020

These words, from verse 22 of the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu, appear, at first sight, to be meaningless, even contradictory. Yet they are profound and the key to inner peace.

Firstly they are to do with the mind, not objects or ‘things’. So ‘give everything up’ does not mean give all your possessions away.

‘Let yourself be empty means empty of ‘prejudices’, ‘conditioned beliefs’ and ego derived ‘attachments’ and ‘anxieties’. Becoming ‘full’ means remaining open to all possibilities, being flexible, receptive, open, authentic. Being ‘attached’ and ‘prejudiced’ are restrictions that stop anything entering an already filled self.


Those who already ‘know’ everything can’t be taught!


‘Let yourself die’ means allow yourself to discard your false sense of self, your ego, your pride, your self-importance. Rejecting ego is, to the ego, a form of death. What’s wonderful is that it is possible to be reborn at any moment, simply by observing ego and controlling it. Ego loves conflict and hates kindness. Discarding ego as the dominant influence in our life and being kind, humble, compassionate, loving are all ways to ‘die and be reborn’.


‘Give everything up’ means give up judgments, complaining, fighting, being right, having to win, rigid thinking and selfish behaviour. Then you will be ‘given everything’ in the sense of finding love, harmony and flow, serenity, wisdom and inner peace. What more is there?


Living this way is indeed ‘having everything’ and ‘lacking nothing.’

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