Tao Te Ching: Chapter 22
Hulk to be whole.
Bend to be straight.
Empty to be filled.
Wear down to be renewed.
Reduce to gain.
Therefore, the sage embraces the one,
And is an example to the world.
He does not show off, therefore he shines.
He does not justify himself, therefore he is revered.
He does not boast, therefore he is honored.
He does not praise himself, therefore he remains.
Because he opposes no one,
No one in the world can oppose him.
The ancients said:
Hulk to be whole.
Are these just empty words?
Indeed, he shall remain whole.
When you compare yourself to another person, you are putting that person’s head higher than your own. Comparisons often make you feel that you are not enough. You become envious of those who have succeeded, while never feeling fully satisfied with what you do have.
Comparisons create divisions within you. Those divisions are based on your own ideas of what’s worthy and unworthy, praiseworthy and blameworthy. They are not reality, but rather, develop into a narrow view of what reality is.
You’ve been conditioned to compare. You’ve been told that you must be smarter, stronger, more attractive, more powerful than others, to gain rewards and avoid punishments.
You fear that you will lose what you have while desiring to gain more.
More is never enough. You are like one of the hungry ghosts: human-like creatures with sagging bellies and necks as thin as needles. While they ravenously desire more and more, they can never satisfy their cravings, suffering from their own greed.
Willard and Marguerite Beecher once wrote in Beyond Success and Failure, “Comparison breeds fear, and fear breeds competition and one-upmanship. We believe our safety depends on killing off the one above us by outrunning him at his own game. We have no time to enjoy any game of our own making lest we lost ground in our race against others for status and preferment. And we may not rest lest those below us steal ahead in the night when we are not aware. The higher we rise, the greater will be our fear of failing. And so we are fearful regardless of whether we win or lose the daily skirmishes.”
Comparison reinforces your fear of not being enough, not having enough, not being worthy enough, not doing enough, and so on. When you are afraid, you will boast and criticize, while feeling a sense of inadequacy. Only when you‘re present can you be free of possessiveness.
When you compare, you fight for an illusion of superiority, while looking over your shoulder for any threats. You know that your accomplishments and rewards are only temporary. They will never satisfy you for long and will fade away.
Eventually, someone who is smarter, more talented, younger, and so on, will come along and beat you at your own game. Habitual comparison makes you feel weaker, emptier, lonelier. It is a feeling of greed and impoverishment. It degrades you overtime.
When you follow the way, you do not need to blame and praise. There is no need prove how superior you are to others when you are able to be yourself. To follow the way is to adapt to the nature of what is, and to walk each step mindfully, open to a mystery not put into words.