Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu
In caring for others and serving heaven,
There is nothing like using restraint (harvesting).
Restraint (Harvesting) begins by giving up one’s ideas.
This depends on Virtue gathered in the past.
If there is a good store of Virtue, then nothing is impossible.
If nothing is impossible, then there are no limits.
If a man knows no limits, then he is fit to be a ruler.
The mother principle of ruling holds good for a long time.
This is called having deep roots and a firm foundation,
The Tao of long life and eternal vision.
(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.)
The image is from Harvesting Rice, Agri-Crop | Deped K to 12.
The best way to manage people and serve heaven is to follow the laws of nature just as farmers do when they harvest grain. Harvesting grains is a simple way to follow Tao.
The average scholar interprets it as “being frugal, restrained, perseverant, and stingy.” But if we check the origin of the word 「嗇」(the last word of the first sentence of the Chinese text-治人事天莫若嗇), it has the meaning of harvesting of grain by the farmer. In my opinion, harvesting grain is the best way to reflect the law of natural growth. it is the core idea of Laozi’s Taoism and the essence of “Taoism is natural law.”
The general idea is to do things according to the laws of nature and to practice virtue. Then the practice of virtue will be invincible. There is no limit to the way of nature. When the Tao of nature cannot be exhausted, it is the beginning of a nation. When one knows not what the limit shall be, he may be the ruler of a state.
When he has a firm spiritual foundation in the Tao, he will be everlasting.
It is like the plant which roots are deep and which flower stalks are firm so that they will last longer. Similarly, through the principle of harvesting and cultivating virtue, the ruler will make the country he founds to continue for generations.
When the country is ruled with a light hand,
The people are simple.
When the country is ruled with severity,
The people are cunning.
Happiness is rooted in misery.
Misery lurks beneath happiness.
Who knows what the future holds?
There is no honesty.
Honesty becomes dishonest.
Goodness becomes witchcraft.
Man’s bewitchment lasts for a long time.
Therefore the sage is sharp but not cutting,
Pointed but not piercing,
Straightforward but not unrestrained,
Brilliant but not blinding.
(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English )
Picture is taken by Wing at the Sea Galilee.
If we govern the country without playing tricks, playing smart, and do everything slowly and gradually, the people will be simple and honest. On the other hand, if government scrutinizes the people’s every move, burdens the people with restrictions, and intrudes upon their life, it creates an environment where people are forced to become tricky and cunning.
Lao Tzu tells us the truth that woe and blessing have a cause and effect relation. When one is proud, one must know that it is the beginning of disappointment. The feeling of gain and loss in life depends on the opinion of each person. Indeed everything is unpredictable; it changes by the passing of the time and environment so it can be very confusing for anyone to know what to do.
Fortunately, by following the Tao, we will not go astray. Here is what the Tao guides us to do:
Be sharp and pointed but not offending or hurting others.
Be straightforward without being ruthless.
Be illuminated without being flashy and blinding others.
Rule a nation with justice.
Wage war with surprise moves.
Become master of the universe without striving.
How do I know that this is so?
Because of this!
The more laws and restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men’s weapons are,
The more trouble in the land.
The more ingenious and clever men are,
The more strange things happen.
The more rules and regulations,
The more thieves and robbers.
Therefore the sage says:
I take no action, and people are reformed.
I enjoy peace and people become honest.
I do nothing and people become rich.
I have no desires, and people return to the good and simple life.
(Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English )
Sunset of Maui
Lao Tzu lived in the era of the social unrest, and the grim reality made him feel that the rulers, under the authority of power and force, want only to run rampant and do their own thing. Therefore they caused the chaos in the world that resulted in poverty, civil unrest, and crime. Therefore, Lao Tzu put forward a plan for rulers: Inaction – Strive for nothing and be at peace, with no interference and with freedom from desires.
He who knows does not speak;
He who speaks does not know.
Fill up its apertures,
Close its doors,
Dull its edges,
Untie its tangles,
Soften its light,
Submerge its turmoil,
– This is the Mystic Unity.
Then love and hatred cannot touch him.
Profit and loss cannot reach him.
Honor and disgrace cannot affect him.
Therefore is he always the honored one of the world.
(Translation by Lin Yutang )
Those who know Tao do not speak it, those who speak Tao do not know.
The following are the characteristic of those who cultivate Tao-
They are the men of a few words.
They keep their mouth shut.
They close their eyes and ears (guard their senses.)
They dull their sharpness.
They remove their paranoia (dilution).
They cover their brightness.
They treat themselves as the dust of the earth.
This is the mysterious great unity.
He who has achieved this state, he also has the following traits –
You cannot be particularly close to him nor alienate him.
He will not be affected by his gains or harmed, nor honored or disgraced.
In other words, he is selfless and desireless to the extent that there is no intimacy, no alienation, no gain, no harm, no honor, and no grace in him. He stands in the doctrine of moderation, so he is regarded as the highest state of man and always be honored.
He who contains virtue(Te) in abundance resembles a newborn child.
Wasps and serpents don’t sting him, and beasts don’t claw at him, and birds of prey don’t attack them.
His bones are tender, and his tendons are soft, and yet his grip is firm.
He hasn’t known the union of sexes, and yet he is stiff with essence.
He cries all day yet never gets hoarse.
This is perfect harmony.
To recognize this harmony is to know the eternal.
To recognize the eternal is to know enlightenment.
To be greedy and indulgent will bring upon scourge.
Heart strengthen breath and makes it strong,
When it becomes strong; it leads to aging,
It is not the way of Tao, but whatever is contrary to Tao will end early.
(Translation with the references listed on the bottom of the post.)
The photo of Skyler Lin
As people often say, “Heaven has three precious things – the sun, moon, and stars. Earth has three treasures- water, fire, and wind. People have three treasures – essence, qi, and mind.
Lao Tzu explained the three treasures of people in detail through the manifestation of virtue (Te) in people. He used the image of a baby who can reach the fullest state of an essence (life force) with his innocence and softness. Again, the baby can get the perfect harmony with his peacefulness, mindless, and emotionless. As we grow older, we tend to lose both essence and qi because we lose our gentleness and innocence.
Furthermore, we use our mind (heart) to lead us to consume our essence and qi, forcing us to look strong outwardly but in reality, it drains our life speedily. Lao Tzu told us it is a natural law that everything in the world starts being tender then become a strong, followed by aging after aging is the death.
The way to avoid the norm of everyday people is to cultivate virtue(Te) abundantly and be like a baby to be able to keep the full state of the essence and maintain the perfect harmony in us.
Tao Te Ching Translated by Lin Yu Tang,
Tao Te Ching Translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.