There are three virtues that help you to be a great person. They are love, frugality, and putting others first. Lao Zi goes further to show you their power in DaoDeJing 67DaoDeJing Chapter 67 Text & Translation
All under heaven say my ways are so great and pervasive that there is nothing special about it (so no one notice it at all).
It is precisely so great and broad that it is seemingly not special. If it is of any special or of particular use for long, then it becomes narrower and it will benefit lesser people.
I have three treasures that I hold and keep them.
First is love.
Second is thrift (frugality).
Third is dare not be first in the world.
Love enables one to be bold.
Frugality enables one to be generous.
Dare not wanting to be first enables one to grow-up and be useful for a long time.
Now, boldness without love,
spendthrift without frugality,
wanting to be first rather than serve, they lead to death!
Love brings victory in attack and is solid in defense.
Heaven will save him and protect him with love.
Taken For Granted - Not Because it is not useful but it was so vital that it is freely provided.
The great and valuable thing like air is taken for granted. Though we need it to survive but it is so pervasive that we assume it will be there and we will take it for granted until we miss it. Love is also such a needful thing that we are provided freely. If you have to earn it, then it no longer becomes love but a reward. So we have our very first lesson - things that are in abundant does not mean valueless but rather it is so vital that it must be freely and unconditionally provided. Never take such thing for granted.
1st is Love - Bold to Fight for the loved - Good Protector
Strangely, Lao Zi did not point out the giving, caring and protecting part of love. He goes straight to the foundation of love --- boldness. Love enables one to be fearless; like the mother hen who risked her life to fight the snake or the eagle to protect her chicks. We find such a relation of love and boldness in the Bible too. See 1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear; because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
2nd is Frugality - Waste Not to Give More - Good Steward
Again, thriftiness is cynically used to describe someone that is stingy and selfish. However, Lao Zi associated it with generosity. A person who is frugal wastes not. He spends his money wisely. He can be entrusted with the management of great wealth because he makes sure the wealth is properly invested. Besides, he waste not can save much to give more. Frugality avoids the traps of either being stingy to be self-serving or anyhow spent and wasted away because one has too much.
3rd Dare Not be First - Others come before me - Good Servant Leader
He to serve others first will be supported by others to be first, i.e. their leader. See The Greatest shall Serve All - DaoDeJing 66.
The Opposites bring Disasters
Boldness alone without love is dangerous. It is recklessness. It is violence.
Spending alone without frugality will lead to great waste. Spending money on things not really needed but on things for showing off. There is a criticism that says, "Some spend money we don't have on things we don't need to impress people that don't even care!"
Putting ourselves first all the time will lead us to compete with others and be rejected by others. We shall make enemies all around us. We can only survive if we are rich and powerful at the beginning. But those things won't get us true support. Time will soon come when we lose our money and our position of power and we will find not only nobody will be there for us but all accusers against us.
The Greatest is Love
Lao Zi ends with "Love is the greatest". When love is used in attack it wins. When love is used in defence it is impregnable. Even heaven will save him with mercy. Mencius echoed it and said. "仁者无敌“ Love has no competitor" or "Love wins always and no one is able to compete with love." The Bible also said, 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Lao Zi's three treasures are love, frugality- faithful stewardship, and servant leadership - assured hope that the people served will choose to follow you. The key is a right balance between self and others. You must be able to take good care of yourself to that you can take good care of others. You are not in this world just for yourself. Your true worth and meaning depend on properly relating to others and to heaven. Remember and practice these three virtues of love, stewardship, and servant leadership.
Lim Liat (c) 8 Nov 2016