DAO DE JING
Part 2 De - Power
People with integrity don’t even think about it.
That’s how you can tell they have integrity.
Other people talk about how much integrity they have,
when they really don’t have much. If any.
Truly powerful people don’t do anything, but they get the job done.
Other people are always busy doing something,
but nothing ever gets done.
When kind people act, they do so without thinking about it.
When the just act, they’re always sure they’re doing the right thing.
But when the righteous act, and nobody reacts,
they try to force everyone to do things their way.
If you’re not in touch with Dao, at least you can still have integrity.
If you don’t have integrity, there’s always kindness.
If you don’t have kindness, there’s always justice.
If you don’t have justice, all you have left is righteousness.
Righteousness is an pale imitation of true faith and loyalty,
and always leads to trouble.
If you’ve already made up your mind,
you don’t know the first thing about Dao,and you never will.
The Masters pay attention to what’s beneath the surface.
They’ll look at a tree’s leaves, but eat the fruit.
They turn all that down, so they can accept this
Since time began, this is what it’s meant to be in touch with Dao:
Dao made the heavens clear. Dao made the earth solid.
Dao made our spirits strong. Dao made the valleys fertile.
Dao gave all living things life. Dao gave rulers authority.
Without Dao, the heavens would collapse.
Without Dao, the earth would crumble.
Without Dao, our spirits would fade away.
Without Dao, the valleys would dry up.
Without Dao, all life would become extinct.
Without Dao, rulers would stumble and fall.
Humility gives us power.
Our leaders should think of themselves as insignificant, powerless, unworthy of their stature.
Isn’t that what humility is all about?
Be strong, but pay no attention to hollow praise.
Don’t call attention to yourself. Don’t make a scene.
Dao is always heading back to where it came from.
Dao advances by not pressing forward.
Things exist because they are.
They are because they once were not.
When a wise person hears about Dao, he gets right with it.
When an ordinary person hears about Dao,
he tries to get right with it, but eventually gives up.
When a fool hears about Dao, he just laughs and laughs.
If he didn’t laugh, it wouldn’t be Dao.
Here’s what they find so funny:
The path to enlightenment seems covered in shadows.
The way forward feels like taking a step back.
The easiest path seems difficult.
Those with the most virtue seem debased.
Those who are most pure seem to be grubby and soiled.
The deepest thoughts appear shallow.
The greatest strength looks like weakness.
What is most real strikes us as imaginary.
The largest space has no boundaries.
The greatest talent seems to produce nothing.
The greatest voice is unhearable. The greatest beauty is invisible.
Dao is hidden to us and it has no name.
It is the source and the strength of all things.
Chapter 42 starts out with some cosmic mumbo-jumbo
about Tao making one, one making two,
two making three, and three making everything else.
I don’t know what it means, and, frankly,
I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
Let’s get to the practical part:
Men hate to be called powerless, insignificant, or unworthy,
but that’s how Masters describe themselves.
Because when we lose, we’ve won. And when we succeed, we’ve failed.
Other people will tell you what I’m telling you now:
“Live by the sword, die by the sword.”
That’s pretty much what Chapter 42 boils down to.
(See Chapter 46 for more details.)
The softest force in the universe can overcome the hardest of objects.
Something without substance can pass through the space between atoms.
That’s how I know about the power of doing nothing.
The silent teachings and the power of doing nothing
can only be understood by a few people.
What’s more important, fame or your well-being?
What’s worth more, your money or your life?
What is more dangerous, winning or losing?
If you are too attached to your possessions, they will bring you misery.
If you hang on to your riches,you will suffer substantial loss.
If you know when you have enough,you will never be disgraced.
If you practice moderation, you can stay out of trouble.
And that’s the secret to lasting success.
The greatest achievements may look like mistakes,
but you will always be able to build upon them.
The fullest reserves may seem empty, but you will always be able to draw upon them.
The straightest line looks crooked. The most skilled people come off as clumsy.
The most eloquent people are usually silent.
When it’s cold, you can move around to stay warm.
When it’s hot, you should keep still and stay cool.
But whatever the weather,
if you stay calm, the world will sort itself out around you.
“When the world is right with Tao,”
Lao Tzu said,
“horses haul fertilizer to the fields.
When the world loses touch with Tao,
horses are trained for cavalry.”
Nothing is more insidious than possession.
Nothing is more dangerous than desire.
Nothing is more disastrous than greed.
If you know when enough is enough,
you will always have enough.
You don’t have to leave your room to understand what’s happening in the world.
You don’t have to look out the window to appreciate the beauty of heaven.
The farther you wander, the less you know.
The Masters don’t wander around. They know. They don’t just look.
They understand. They don’t do anything, but the work gets done.
Usually, we try to learn something new every day.
But if we want to get right with Dao, we have to let go of something every day.
We do less and less, until we end up doing nothing.
And it’s when we do nothing that we get the job done.
Let events take their course, and everything will turn out in your favour.
If you act on your ambitions, they will never pan out.
The Masters don’t make up their minds.
They turn their thoughts to other people.
They are good to good people, and they’re good to bad people.
This is real goodness.
They have faith in the faithful, and they have faith in the unfaithful.
This is real faith.
A Master throws himself into the world completely,
forgetting everything he’s been told.
People pay attention to him because he lives a life of child-like wonder.
People who look for the secret of long life wind up dead.
Their bodies are the focus of their lives and the source of their death,
because they think a healthy body is all there is to life.
Lao Tzu used to say
a man who truly understood life could walk through the jungle without fear
or across a battlefield without armor, totally unarmed.
Wild animals and weapons couldn’t kill him.
I know, I know: what the hell does that mean?
“Well, he couldn’t be killed,” Lao Tzu said,
“because his body wasn’t where he kept his death.”