Tag Archives: Daodejing

Daodejing: back to the good old days

Ah, the good old days when men were men and, well, I’m sure you get my drift. Just like Confucius did with the Duke of Zhou, Laozi is attempting to evoke a golden age from deep antiquity that almost certainly never existed. He is imploring people to learn from the mythologized behavior of the (nameless) great masters of the past in the hope that everyone returns to the right path. Continue reading Daodejing: back to the good old days

Daodejing: the unbroken thread

I am beginning to see why the Daodejing appeals to so many people in the west seeking spiritual inspiration. Passages like this one in Chapter 14 do a masterful job of evoking the myriad mysteries of the Dao, which stretches back to the very “beginnings of antiquity”. The richness and ambiguity of the text, no matter whether it’s in Chinese or English, certainly send the brain cells spinning in multiple directions! Continue reading Daodejing: the unbroken thread

Daodejing: the power of fear

There’s nothing like fear to motivate people (though I suppose you can always spice it up with a dollop of uncertainty and doubt). Most of the time, it’s a negative force that holds us back from doing what we really want to do with our lives because we are frightened of losing what we have – just like a high-ranking official terrified of being dismissed or even losing his head at the whim of the capricious ruler upon whose favor his livelihood depend. Continue reading Daodejing: the power of fear

Daodejing: flow like water

「上善若水,水善利萬物而不爭,處眾人之所惡,故幾於道。居善地,心善淵、與善仁、言善信、正善治、事善能、動善時。夫唯不爭,故無尤」
The highest good is like water;
Water brings good to all things without contending with them;
It settles in places that people disdain;
Thus, it is akin to the way.
In choosing your home, it is the location that counts;
In cultivating your mind, it is depth that counts;
In dealing with others, it is goodness that counts;
In speaking, it is good faith that counts;
In governing, it is order that counts;
In handling affairs, it is ability that counts;
In action, it is timing that counts.
By not contending with others,
You won’t be singled out for reproach.

The Dao is like water. It sustains life without intending to.  Continue reading Daodejing: flow like water

Daodejing: the more you give

The more you give, the more you get back. I’m not sure I even need to add that.

「天長地久,天地所以長且久者,以其不自生,故能長生。是以聖人後其身而身先,外其身而身存。非以其無私耶!故能成其私。」
Heaven is infinite and earth is eternal;
The reason why they last so long is because they do not exist for themselves;
Thus, they can continue to endure.
That is why the sage:
Places himself at the back, but finds himself at the front;
Places himself on the outside, but remains present.
Isn’t it because he doesn’t think of himself,
That he is able to achieve his private ends?

Daodejing: perfect harmony

「不尚賢,使民不爭;不貴難得之貨,使民不為盜;不見可欲,使民心不亂;是以聖人之治,虛其心、實其腹、弱其志、強其骨。常使民無知無欲,使夫智者不敢為也。為無為,則無不治。」
Do not single out individuals for praise,
So that the people won’t contend;
Do not prize rare goods,
So that the people won’t steal;
Do not display objects of desire,
So that the people’s hearts will not be restless.
That’s why the sage rules his people by:
Emptying their minds;
But filling their stomachs;
Weakening their ambitions;
But strengthening their sinews.
Always keeping the people free from knowledge and desires;
So that the ones with knowledge will never dare act.
By acting with effortless action,
There is nothing he cannot govern. Continue reading Daodejing: perfect harmony