Daodejing Chapter 10: Laozi throws down the gauntlet

「載營魄抱一,能無離乎?專氣致柔,能嬰兒乎?滌除玄覽,能無疵乎?愛國治民,能無為乎?天門開闔,能為雌乎?明白四達,能無知乎?生之蓄之,生而不有,為而不恃,長而不宰,是謂玄德。
Can you nurture your spirit and embrace oneness,
Without letting it go?
Can you concentrate your vital energy and reach a state of suppleness,
Like a new-born baby?
Can you polish and clean your mystery mirror,
So that you leave it untainted?
Can you love your country and care for your people,
With effortless action?
Can you play the role of the female,
Opening and closing the gates of Heaven?
Can you understand everything instinctively,
Without employing knowledge?
Bearing and nurturing;
Bearing without possessing;
Acting without taking credit;
Leading without dominating.
This is called mysterious virtue.

Laozi throws down the gauntlet in Chapter 10 of the Daodejing with a battery of pointed questions asking whether you are ready to embrace the principles and practices of the way.

Are you prepared to shed your ego and view the world as it is rather than you wish it to be?

Are you committed to look after the interests of everyone rather than just your own?

Are you willing to be open and receptive without making subjective judgments of others?

Are you able to accept the responsibilities of leadership without expecting any benefits in return?

These questions point you in the right direction – but only you can decide whether you truly wish to connect yourself to the boundless wisdom and vital energy of the way.

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