The Paradoxical Poetry of Tao Te Ching

tao

The Tao is the way. Too bad Machiavelli never heard of it. Or got to read it. If he had, The Prince might have been a different fellow. An unrecognizable one, in fact.

I like to read Lao Tzu’s paradoxical pages every now and then, and when I do, I reach for my copy of Tao Te Ching.  The wisdom here is unsettlingly logical. So un-Western. And in this day and age, sadly, so un-Eastern, too.

Here is one entry I particularly enjoyed. Like rivers and streams, the metaphor is simple yet deep. If only a few leaders I know (their weaknesses exposed one Tweet at a time) would read it. But that won’t happen unless it is read aloud to him. On Fox Channel story time. Which gives the fox–an otherwise fine animal–a bad name.

From Tao Te Ching:

The reason the river and sea can be regarded as
The rulers of all the valley streams
Is because of their being below them.
Therefore they can be their rulers.
So if you want to be over people
You must speak humbly to them.
If you want to lead them
You must place yourself behind them.

Thus the sage is positioned above
And the people do not feel oppressed.
He is in front and they feel nothing wrong.
Therefore they like to push him front and never resent him.

Since he does not contend

No one can contend with him.

 

The moral of our story: Lead from behind. Get on top from below. Be humble! Most of us have lost our way!

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2 thoughts on “The Paradoxical Poetry of Tao Te Ching

  1. i used to sleep with the Tao Te Ching under my pillow. i still think one of the most important maxims from poetry is “when no credit is taken, accomplishment endures.” i learned a lot about how to behave correctly from the Lao. Tzu.

    Like

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