The Tao Teh King: A Short Study in Comparative Religion, by C. Spurgeon Medhurst, , at sacred-texts.com
The people suffer from famine because of the multitude of taxes consumed by their superiors. Because of this they suffer from famine. The people are difficult to govern because of the officiousness of their superiors; because of this they are difficult to govern. Men are continually 1 dying because they lust after life; because of this they frequently die.
It is only those with whom life is no object who truly value life. 2
124:1 Literally—"readily," "easily," "without difficulty."
124:2 Cf. chaps. 53, 65.
Huai-nan-tzu (B.C. 179) illustrates this chapter with a story: "Tzu-fei of the kingdom of King (the present provinces of Hunan and Hupeh) went to a certain place to obtain a very valuable two-edged sword. As he was returning with his prize a terrible storm overtook the vessel, and two scaly dragons wrapped themselves round the ship. Going to the captain Tzu-fei said, 'If this continues how can we live?' The captain confessed that it was the first time he had encountered such an experience, whereupon Tzu-fei bracing himself for a conflict, bared his arm and pulling his two-edged weapon from its sheath said, 'One may discuss benevolence, righteousness and honor with heroes, but to waylay or capture them is impossible. Here, in the midst of this sea I am but a mass of rotten flesh and crumbling bones, though I lose my sword what matters it? Is there anything at all to which I cling?' Leaping into the waters he thrust the dragons through and cut off their heads. He thus saved the lives of all his fellow passengers, and stilled the storm, and for this was subsequently suitably rewarded by his prince."