Tao Te Ching #12: “Colors blind people’s eyes”

Colors blind people’s eyes,
sounds deafen their ears;
flavors spoil people’s palates,
the chase and the hunt
craze people’s minds;
goods hard to obtain
make people’s actions harmful.
Therefore sages work for the middle
and not the eyes,
leaving the latter and taking the former.

– Thomas Cleary


The five colors make our eyes blind
the five tones make our ears deaf
the five flavors make our mouths numb
riding and hunting make our minds wild
hard-to-get goods make us commit crimes
thus the rule of the sages
favors the stomach over the eyes
thus they pick this over that

– Red Pine


The five colors cause men not to see;
The five tones cause them not to hear;
The five flavors cause them to not taste.
The race and the chase drive men mad,
And rare goods lead them astray.
When wise men govern this is why
They favor the belly, not the eye,
The one accept, the other deny.

– Moss Roberts