humility Posts

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.