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Tao Te Ching: Verse 57 -- Lao-Tzu

Guest poem sent in by Arun Sripati
(Poem #1593) Tao Te Ching: Verse 57
 If you want to be a great leader,
 you must learn to follow the Tao.
 Stop trying to control.
 Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
 and the world will govern itself.

 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.

 Therefore the Master says:
 I let go of the law,
 and people become honest.
 I let go of economics,
 and people become prosperous.
 I let go of religion,
 and people become serene.
 I let go of all desire for the common good,
 and the good becomes common as grass.
-- Lao-Tzu
 (translated by Stephen Mitchell)

I have discovered - and rediscovered - wonderful poetry on minstrels.  But I
am truly delighted to be able to share a verse from the Tao Te Ching, which
is not represented on this list. As the saying goes, "you don't find a good
book, a good book finds you" - I have known for sometime about the Tao Te
Ching, but when I actually read it recently - the timing was perfect. :-)

Suffice it to say that Tao means "the way", and as verse 1 tells us: "The
tao that can be told/ is not the eternal Tao". The meaning is known in
context; through experience - as we understood things as children.  Life is
replete with opposing elements in balance, and the text seems to express
profound (seemingly contradictory) truths in a really concise manner.

Many verses in the Tao Te Ching are concerned with leadership, like this
one. How difficult it is to "achieve something", especially when it involves
people! We try to impose rules, constitutions, laws, prohibitions - and we
think that we can keep things under control. Yet, is nature like that? Does
nature have fixed rules and categories? We find that the laws that govern
nature readily give rise to a rich and bewildering variety - perhaps we
"impose" order at a level far more superficial than nature does? Maybe the
"letting go" that the Tao Te Ching advises us to do is really a call to
discover that deeper order.


 Full text:

 Wikipedia on the Tao Te Ching:

37 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Mallika Chellappa said...

Very timely poem. Thanks Arun! The sad state of the world today is
indeed a reflection of the so-called checks and balances (mostly imposed by countries that profess a laissez faire attitude)

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