Tag Archives: Daodejing

Two reasons for reading the Analects and the Daodejing

Statue of Confucius, Nishan
Statue of Confucius, Nishan

How are the teachings of Confucius and Laozi relevant to the modern world? This is the question I have been asking myself as I have been reviewing my translations of The Analects and the Daodejing.

On one level, this is an easy question to answer. Given China’s growing global political and economic influence, it makes practical sense to learn more about the two seminal philosophical texts that provide the underpinnings of a nation that President Xi Jinping pointedly reminded President Trump yesterday has the longest uninterrupted culture in the world. What could be a more effective way of understanding China’s traditions and customs than reading two of the most influential and enduring works in world history? Continue reading Two reasons for reading the Analects and the Daodejing

Daodejing Chapter 6: the mysterious female

The spirit of the valley never dies;
It is called the mysterious female.
The gateway of the mysterious female,
Is called the root of Heaven and Earth.
Like a fine slender thread,
It appears to go on forever;
No matter how much it’s used,
It’s never exhausted.
Continue reading Daodejing Chapter 6: the mysterious female

Effortless action

Confucius said: “If there was a ruler who achieved order through effortless action it was Shun, wasn’t it?” How did he do it? He composed himself with reverence and sat facing south. That was all.

Effortless action (無為/wúwéi) is a term much more closely identified with Daoist teaching than Confucius, which is hardly surprising given that this is the only time it appears in the Analects. Continue reading Effortless action

Die happy


Confucius said: “Know the Way in the morning; die without regret in the evening.”

Confucius said: “A scholar-official who sets his heart on the Way but is ashamed of his threadbare clothes and coarse food is not worth listening to.”

The concept of the Way (道/dào) predates Confucius and Laozi by thousands of years. Even though they had different approaches to following and implementing the Way, they both began from the same starting points and shared the same set of core values. Continue reading Die happy

Daodejing quotes on trust

In the Daodejing, trusting others and being trustworthy are seen as essential qualities for a leader. Here is a collection of the most popular quotations on the subject of trust from the text.

In speaking, it is good faith that counts;

Chapter 8

Leaders who don’t trust their people enough won’t be trusted in return.
Wise ones choose their words carefully.

Chapter 17