Tao Thought: Unfortunate daodejing #61


An unfortunate one is a rootless ghost,
His walk a mad angel's gait.
Insolent steps of one thrown from heaven
To toil in red dust,
As if he had not had enough
In a thousand previous lifetimes.
Where is his heart? Where is his soul?
To call this heaven's will
Is a cheap answer.

There was once a god who committed a crime. His punishment was to be thrown back to earth to suffer the misfortunes of being human.

When you see those less fortunate than yourself, whether they are the homeless on the streets or simply the ugly and unpopular, can you be sure that they are not like that god flung back to this mad planet?

Is their misfortune their own fault? Or do you explain with references to morality, destiny, reincarnation, and cosmic justice? Even the words of saints offer no relief for their suffering, so it hardly seems fair to blame them.

Let us not hold ourselves above our fellow human beings, no matter how great the disparity. To withhold your scorn is already beautiful. To see how we are all of one family is compassion.

365 Tao
Daily Meditations
Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9

daodejing translated by various current scholars


The reason the sea can govern a hundred rivers
is because it has mastered being lower
thus it can govern a hundred rivers

Thus if the sage would be above the people
he should speak as if he were below them
if he would be before them he should act
as though he were behind them

Thus when the sage is above
the people are not burdened
when he is in front
the people are not hindered
the world never wearies of pushing him forward

Because he doesn't struggle
no one can struggle against him



A great country is like a low-lying land
into which many streams flow.
It draws powerful energies to it
as a receptive woman draws an eager man.
The feminine can always conquer the masculine
by yielding and taking the lower position.
In this way she becomes as low-lying land:
in time, everything comes her way.

Therefore a great country can win over
a small country by practicing humility.
A small country can also win over
a great country by practicing humility.

One wins by willingly taking the lower position.
The other wins by willingly acknowledging its lower position.

The great country wants to embrace and nourish more people.
The small country wants to ably serve its benefactor.

Both accomplish their ends by yielding.



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 the Tao,
thus never needing to be defensive.

A great nation is like a great man:
When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
Having realized it, he admits it.
Having admitted it, he corrects it.
He considers those who point out his faults
as his most benevolent teachers.
He thinks of his enemy
as the shadow that he himself casts.

If a nation is centered in the Tao,
if it nourishes its own people
and doesn't meddle in the affairs of others,
it will be a light to all nations in the world.


photo "Gong Hoi Fat Chey"
by lisbeth west

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