Category Archives: Taoism

Tao Te Ching #61

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.

Translation by Stephen Mitchel.

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Tao Te Ching #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.

Translation by Stephen Mitchel.

It’s that middle section that really hits home today.

Tao Te Ching #48

In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.

True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can’t be gained by interfering.

Translation by Stephen Mitchel.

As a software engineer, I understand that “simple” and “easy” are not the same thing; in fact, usually to arrive at simple is very difficult.¬†Antoine de Saint-Exupery said:

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

We live our lives striving for more, collecting more, gathering more. Bigger, better, faster, more. Then how often do we step back and look at what we’ve amassed and feel overwhelmed and wonder how did we get here? Be it the amount of stuff in our houses, or the number of things we do in our lives, our constant running around and “having no time” and “being so busy”.

Strip away, discard. You’ll discover what’s extraneous, you’ll retain what is necessary. The simpler life becomes (or perhaps think of it as the less complicated you make your life), the more we can enjoy it.