Daodejing Chapter 32: streams and rivulets

Daodejing chapter 32: streams and rivulets

「道常無名,樸,雖小,天下莫能臣也。侯王若能守之,萬物將自賓。天地相合,以降甘露,民莫之令而自均。始制有名,名亦既有,夫亦將知止;知止,可以不殆。譬道之在天下,猶川谷之與江海。」
The Dao forever has no name;
Although the uncarved block of wood is small,
No one in the world can subordinate it.
If princes and kings are able to harness it,
All things will submit of their own accord.
Heaven and earth will come together,
And cause sweet dewdrops to fall.
The people will share them fairly without being ordered to.
Only when the whole is divided are names required for each part.
When there are names,
You need to know when to stop.
Knowing when to stop averts trouble.
For the Dao is to the world,
What streams and rivulets are to the rivers and seas.

The way is the source of the world just like the tiny streams and rivulets that trickle down the sides of valleys to feed the mighty rivers and seas. Even though it is small, it has such infinite power that “princes and kings” can never hope to control it. However, they only need to “hold fast to it” in order to unite the people under their leadership and establish a harmonious and equitable society.

Without the way, society is divided and the ruler has to give everything a name so that his people can identify different objects and know what is permitted and forbidden. The problem is that is that as the number of names proliferates, the people lose their connection to the way and a materialistic culture is fueled by the proliferation of arbitrary desires for an ever more lavish lifestyle.

Thus, Laozi cautions: “When there are names, you need to know when to stop.” For “knowing when to stop averts trouble” in the form of the increasing social unrest and conflicts that ravaged China during his lifetime.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *