What if Lao Tse was a blogger?

TaoThe blogosphere is sometimes a clogosphere of people trying sound smart, witty, or cutting-edge. But if you get a chance, I recommend you check out this really clever guy named Lao Tse. He never blogged, but he was great at cutting to the chase. Here are his tips on good governance, which seem appropriate for these days of “global economic meltdown.”

Lao Tse wrote:



“When a country obtains great power, it becomes like the sea. All streams run downward into it. The more powerful it grows, the greater the need for humility. Humility means trusting in the Tao, and thus never needing to be defensive.[61]

Shadow illusion

A great nation should be like great man. When he makes a mistake, he should realize it. Having realized it, he should admit it. Having admitted it, he should correct it. He should consider those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers. He should think of his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts.[61]



The more prohibitions you have, the less virtuous people will be. The more weapons you have, the less secure people will be. The more subsidies you have, the less self-reliant people will be.[57]

When man interferes with God, the sky becomes filthy. The Earth becomes depleted. The equilibrium crumbles. Creatures become extinct.[39]



For governing a country well, there is nothing better than moderation. The mark of a moderate man is freedom from his own ideas.[59] When the will to power is in charge, the higher the ideals, the lower the results. [58]



[Instead,] center your country on the way, and evil will have no power. Not that it isn’t here, but you’ll be able to step out of its way. Give evil nothing to oppose, and it will disappear by itself.[60]



If a nation is centered in this way, if it nourishes its own people and doesn’t meddle in the affairs of others, it will be a light to all nations of the world.[61]”

This treatise, excerpted from the Tao Te Ching, was written 2500 years ago. Words in italics are various translations for “the Tao.” In the illustration above, squares labeled A and B are actually the same shade of gray. The shadow causes your eyes to deceive you. This illusion wasn’t well known in Lao Tse’s day, but it seems to have a certain Zen to it.

Marc Maxmeister

Marc Maxmeister is a PhD neuroscientist who helps coordinate the GlobalGiving Storytelling project, an experiment to provide all organizations with a richer, more complex view of the communities they serve. His title reflects our focus on learning from experiments. He was formerly a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia (1999-2001) and did a Fulbright research project around the impact of computers and the Internet on rural education in West Africa. He loves to teach, and has taught graduate-level Neuroscience at Kenyatta University in Kenya and Python to middle school students in London, UK. He blogs at chewychunks.wordpress.com and is the author of several books, including Ebola: Local voices, hard facts (2014).


Garth Moore

about 12 years ago

It's too bad that the Tao Te Ching isn't required reading for anyone who is a head of state in our world. These meditations would go a long way to help leaders think before acting. Of course, lao Tzu said the best leaders are those who we barely know exist. Too much ego in our leader's today for that to be true.


about 11 years ago

The Tao Te Ching is a most powerful book, usually much too advanced for most people to fully grasp. It is especially in these difficult times that we can see how humility is an important lesson humanity has failed to embrace. It was only when I read "The Evolutionary Glitch" by a rather unknown yet amazing man named Albert Garoli, that I finally came to understand why this is so. It seems that we, as humans, have naturally evolved to a level of mental self-destruction. Our brains have become so powerful that it seems the mind has begun to take over the spirit. We are in sad times right now and it is unfortunate that too few are seeking to take a step back to the more essentials in life, the humble way to be. Thank you for letting people know about the Tao.


about 11 years ago

Considering very few people know "The Evolutionary Glitch," I find it positively surprising that someone other than myself has read the book! From what I recall, Garoli doesn't go directly into the Tao but uses many of Confucius' sayings to build his approach. If only our society could come to better understand and embrace ancient philosophies. It is because of this book that I have been able to follow "The Way" in terms of my inner self's natural needs and desires, not those told to me by my conditioned conscious mind or imposed by society. Great book!

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