Thursday, February 24, 2011

57: People Can Govern Themselves


Use justice to rule a country.
Use surprise to wage war.
Use non-action to govern the world.
How do I know it is so?
As for the world,
The more restrictions and prohibitions there are,
The poorer the people will be.
The more sharp weapons people have in a country,
The bigger the disorder will be.
The more clever and cunning people are,
The stranger the events will be.
The more laws and commands there are,
The more thieves and robbers there will be.
Therefore the sage says:
I do not act,
And people become reformed by themselves.
I am at peace,
And people become fair by themselves.
I do not interfere,
And people become rich by themselves.
I have no desire to desire,
And people become like the uncarved wood by themselves.

People Can Govern Themselves

Some translators of the Tao Te Ching presume that the first three lines of this chapter say what not to do and what to do. Justice and surprise are inferior, and only non-action, wu-wei, is in accordance with Tao. I think that's too harsh a judgment...

Here is my full commentary on this Tao Te Ching chapter:
Tao Te Ching Chapter 57 Translation and Commentary

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