Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu – Chapter 39



There were those in ancient times possessed of the One;
Through possession of the One, the Heaven was clarified,
Through possession of the One, The Earth was stabilized,
Through possession of the One, the gods were spiritualized,
Through possession of the One, the valleys were made full,
Through possession of the One, all things lived and grew,
Through possession of the One, the princes, and dukes
became the ennobled of the people.
– that was how each became so.

Without clarity, the Heavens would shake,
Without stability, the Earth would quake,
Without spiritual power, the gods would crumble,
Without being filled, the valleys would crack,
Without the life-giving power, all things would perish,
Without the ennobling power, the princes and dukes would stumble.
Therefore the nobility depend upon the common man for support,
And the exalted ones depend upon the lowly for their base.

That is why the princes and dukes call themselves
“the orphaned,” “the lonely one,” “the unworthy.”
Is not true then that they depend upon the common man for support?
Truly, take down the parts of a chariot,
And there is no chariot (left).
Rather than jingle like the jade,
Rumble like the rocks.
(Translation by Yu Tang Lin)

“Oneness” is where the Tao resides. The oneness manifests itself in many different ways:
It demonstrates clarity in the sky, tranquility on earth, divinity in gods, and abundant life in all living things.

On the other hand, there would be consequences if there is no connection with oneness (Tao): sky would break apart, earth erupt, gods vanish, valley crack, myriad things extinct, rulers toppled.

How can we gain this oneness? How can we lead with the Tao? We can see the clues everywhere. The high must be built upon the low. Tall trees grew from tiny saplings; The base of the mountain exalts the majestic peak.

In Chinese culture, the princes and dukes called themselves “the orphaned,” “the lonely one,” “the unworthy.” (in Chinese 孤家, 寡人, 不才), for they know that they can’t rule the country without the people’s support and the loyalty of the commoner. The same thing applies to a chariot; if the parts of it do not come together as a whole, there is no chariot.

Stefan Stenudd gave excellent comments on the One(Whole), he said:
“This chapter focuses on the necessity for the main parts of the world to be in accordance with Tao, or they will cease to function and there will be disorder. That goes for all the parts. They are equally needed in the grand scheme of things. So, there is no point in any one of them being exalted above the others. It’s a team work, one might say, a great harmony where every piece fits, and nothing could be removed without damage to the whole.” And Lao Tzu said it is better to be a hard and simple stone than a dazzling gem.

Previous Feng Shui- Accumulating Merits
Next Seven Things to Give