Attend to no-affairs.
Taste the flavorless.
Whether it is big or small, many or few,
Requite hatred with virtue.
Deal with the difficult while yet it is easy;
Deal with the big while yet it is small.
The difficult (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet easy;
The great (problems) of the world
Must be dealt with while they are yet small.
Therefore the Sage by never dealing with great (problems)
He who lightly makes a promise
Will find it often hard to keep his faith.
He who makes light of many things
Will encounter many difficulties.
Hence even the Sage regards things as difficult,
And for that reason never meets with difficulties.
(Translation by Yu Tang Lin)
Image of Xinjiang(新疆), China by Kue chu Chen
The first three sentences cover the general idea of the sage governance, the specific implementation of the view and the policy that is beneficial to the people.
“Do-nothing” is present throughout the chapters of Tao Te Ching. Lao Tze mentioned the concept of “inaction”, that is to follow the “tao,” to abide the laws of nature by objective laws. Do not do the thing with our desire and intention. This is the essence of “do nothing.”
Attend to no-affairs implies that the saints or the rulers give out as few decrees as possible. They should not suppress the people with numerous government decrees.
Taste the flavorless literal meaning of “tasteless” is that the flavor is Stoic. In combination with “Do nothing” and “Attend to no-affairs ” are LaoTzu’s request for governing the country, The sage and other rulers should not burden the people with numerous rules and regulation that the people could not breathe. It should be to simplify the order and govern more naturally; so the people will support and cooperate. Hence there will be a natural, balance between rulers and the people; It will be the ideal condition.
Deal with small things with a big attitude, handle simple situations with complex attitudes. Therefore, the sage does not limit himself to doing great things so that he can accomplish great things.
A promise must always be broken, and a man who does things too lightly will never accomplish anything.
The sages always treat things as if they are difficult, and carefully break them down into pieces that are easy to solve, and eventually they become easy to solve.
Indeed, if we face the complexity, we can only start from simple, how can we understand the complexity without simple. The Cambridge Dictionary defines complexity as “the state of having many parts and being difficult to understand or find an answer to.” The definition of simplicity is the inverse: “something [that] is easy to understand or do.” Therefore, take care of small thing and resolve the simple problem then we can handle the complexity.
The image is from 茶悦网.
Once there was a man received a precious purple clay teapot. He placed it at the head of his bed every night so no one could steal it away from him.
However one night he accidentally knocked the lid off the teapot in his sleep. After waking up to the noise, he decided to get rid of the teapot: after all, what’s the point keeping a teapot with a broken lid?
So, he grabbed the teapot and threw it out of the window.
The following morning, he found, on the contrary to what he had expected: the teapot lid stayed intact as it landed on his cotton shoes.
Exasperated and frustrated, the man stepped on the lid, crushing it to pieces.
As he stepped outdoors, he encountered another surprise: the teapot he had thrown out of the window the day before hung perfectly intact in a tree outside his window.
The image is from Brainy Quote.
Have you ever had the moment when you wish you could take back the hurtful things said to a loved one? Unlike the teapot that stayed intact, a lot of hurts cannot be undone: it is perfectly human to feel exasperated or disappointed. However it is the actions upon those emotions that make all the difference: had the man decided not to throw out the teapot when exasperated, things would have been a lot different. Therefore, patience is no longer just a virtue, but also a state of mindfulness of the potential consequences of one’s actions.
It did feel like a practical joke however, when our protagonist found that he had thrown out the teapot when the lid was found intact, that there was no going back: he had crushed his own chances: In fact, luck had always been on his side: fate did not ruin his lid, he was the one who did.
Isn’t it ironic that it has never crossed our minds that it is ourselves who created our “bad luck” when hope and light have always proven to be on our side?
Archaeological excavations reveal that as early as the Song dynasty (10th century) potters near Yixing were using local “zisha” (紫砂 or 紫泥 ; literally, “purple sand/clay”) to make utensils that may have functioned as teapots. According to the Ming dynasty author Zhou Gaoqi, during the reign of the Zhengde Emperor, a monk from Jinsha Temple (Golden Sand Temple) in Yixing handcrafted a fine quality teapot from local clay. Such teapots soon became popular with the scholarly class, and the fame of Yixing teapots began to spread.
Tao is the mysterious secret of the universe,
The good man’s treasure,
And the bad man’s refuge.
Beautiful saying can be sold at the market,
Noble conduct can be presented as a gift.
Though there be bad people,
Why reject them?
Therefore on the crowning of an emperor,
On the appointment of the Three Ministers,
Rather than send tributes of jade and teams of four horses,
Send in the tribute of Tao.
Wherein did the ancients prize this Tao?
Did they not say, “to search for the guilty ones and pardon them”?
Therefore is (tao) the treasure of the world.
(Translation by Yu Tang Lin)
Image of Xinjiang(新疆), China by Kue chu Chen
This chapter once again promotes the benefits and functions of tao. Lao Tzu thought that the “tao,” which is silent, is not only the magic weapon of the good but also for the bad person to keep. Therefore, this chapter points out that the world should be equal before the word “tao. ” Tao” protects the good, but it does not abandon the unscrupulous one. Tao answers the prayers of the people and forgives the faults of them. This is the valuable aspect of the Tao.
Lao Tzu gave an example of the significant offering. The most important ceremony in ancient China was the crowning of the Emperor and the installation of the Emperor’s three ministers(太师、太傅、太保). The ceremony included the offerings of large and valuable jade and a team of four horses. The Tao is valuable, and it surpassed those offerings. In another word, no material could compare the Tao; the Tao is priceless.
Why did ancient cherish the Tao? It was because the Tao brought them to the way of nature. For those who live in the society that follows the law of nature, they will gain the protection, and they are all equal. Not only for good also for the bad for Tao will not find fault in them, but they can also perfect and improve themselves, thereby they become better and better. Therefore the Tao is considered the greatest treasure of all.
An old man selling porcelain bowls was walking along the road carrying a pole.
Suddenly a porcelain bowl fell to the ground and broke, but the old man kept walking forward without turning his head.
When a passersby saw it, he felt strange and asked: “Why is your bowl broken and you don’t look at it?”
The old man replied, “No matter whether I look back or not, the bowl is still broken.”
The image is from Berry Thoughtful Life.
Learn to accept and let go of what you have lost. Things will not come back because of your grief, and you can’t change the result.
Let bygones be bygones, and your life will be free of burden.
The big country is like the downstream of the river
It is the converging point of the world
The female of the universe.
The female always overcomes the male with quietude
Lying low in stillness.
Thus if the big country is humble to the small country
Then it can conquer the small country
If the small country is humble to the big country
Then it can be accepted by the big country
Thus one uses the lower position to take
The other uses the lower position to be accepted
The big country wants to gather and protect people
The small country wants to be sheltered
So that both obtain what they wish
The big country should place itself low
The big country should be like the downstream of the river so that whole world will meet here. She is in the position of the females. Softness and quietness of female overcome the strength of the males. Therefore big country shows the humbleness and respects to the small country and it will win over the submission of the small country. Whereas the small country humbles and respects the big country, and it will gain the trust from the big country in return.
A big country does this is for the sake of receiving all and shelter them. A small country does so is for mutual respect and non-aggression. Therefore, reaching the mutual respect through humbleness, both big or small countries achieve the best strategy. The key is that a big country should be humble and respect the small country in good faith.