“the Sage takes care of the belly, not the eye. He prefers what is within to what is without.” (12.3)
The wise person focuses primarily upon the essentials of existence and comfort. This is the natural way. This is the way of the tao. This is the way of the infant who knows neither ego or greed. We were born with a concern for the belly, we were conditioned to have concerns for the eye.
The departure from our original, natural state of thinking is the pathway of desire. Desire for commodities and credit are the preoccupations of the distracted mind. Each day of our lives we are conditioned to desire the acquisition of material wealth and the approval of our fellow humankind. The natural way is to neither covet approval or wealth.
Our culture has created a system which preys upon desires, and which uses propoganda to keep our minds constantly preoccupied with the desires of the eye. Our economic system is founded upon and encourages greed. Our social system fosters celebrated status based upon shallow concepts and appeals to egotism as the source of happiness.
We were born neither covetous or vain. We were conditioned to such. We were born with a natural concern for the belly, whereas we are constantly conditioned to an unnatural state of greed and egotism.
These are my thoughts on Tao Te Ching 12.3