This chapter starts off about the comparison between war-time and peace time when horses are used for different purposes. Peace is when horses are used for menial tasks like helping for transport and in agriculture while wartime is when horses are used for a different task altogether. The word “Way” is used because war is instigated if people don’t have their own way or they are not content with the situation and thus attack others to satisfy themselves.
The last three lines are derived from the beginning and carry the central message of this chapter. The importance of contentment is underscored repeatedly as according to Daodejing it is disastrous for a person not to be content, because until a person is content his appetite for more and the need to acquire and control cannot be satisfied. The need to have more or acquire more is deadly as this insatiable need is responsible for violence which may be in form of war.
Until a person is content with what he or she has that individual cannot control his destructive need to have more. The art of contentment according to the author is to understand what contentment is and those who discover the secret of contentment are always happy with what they have and don’t have the urge or the drive to seek out more.