Daodejing Chapter 12: sensory overload

「五色令人目盲,五音令人耳聾,五味令人口爽,馳騁田獵,令人心發狂;難得之貨,令人行妨;是以聖人為腹不為目;故去彼取此。」
The five colors blind your eyes;
The five sounds deafen your ears;
The five flavors dull your taste buds.
Chasing and hunting make you lose your mind.
Pursuing rare objects leads you astray.
That is why the sage heeds his stomach and not his eyes,
Thus, he rejects the latter and adopts the former.

Chapter 12 of the Daodejing warns that, yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Sensory overload in any form only serves to make you even more dissatisfied and can drive you insane as you desperately chase after the next big fix.

When Laozi says that the sage heeds his stomach rather than his eyes, he is advising that you should remain focused on your center and not allow yourself to be seduced by materialistic temptations.

Less is more, in other words. Lead a life of moderation – not excess.

The five colors that Laozi refers to are blue, red, yellow, white, and black. The five sounds probably correspond to a musical pentatonic scale. The five flavors are sour, bitter, sweet, spicy, and salty.

According to Daoist belief, the lower abdomen is where your Qi, or vital energy, resides. Laozi is probably referring to nourishment of the spiritual kind rather than food when referring to the stomach.

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