The Tao is the center of the Universe,
the good man’s treasure,
the bad man’s refuge.
Honors can be bought with fine words,
respect can be won with good deeds;
but the Tao is beyond all value,
and no one can achieve it.
Thus, when a new leader is chosen,
don’t offer to help him
with your wealth or your expertise.
to teach him about the Tao.
Why did the ancient Masters esteem the Tao?
Because, being one with the Tao,
when you seek you find;
and when you make a mistake, you are forgiven.
That is why everybody loves it.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 62, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
What Would Make Us Great, Again
What have I been doing for the last several days (beginning with chapter 57)? Well, because a new leader was chosen, and following Lao Tzu’s advice from today’s chapter, I didn’t offer to help him with my wealth (ha!), or with my expertise (I don’t waste that on working in the government); I offered, instead, to teach him about the Tao.
The Tao, you see, is the center of the Universe. And, I don’t see that word, center, to mean a place or location. I see it as a state of being. To center yourself in the Tao, to be one with it, is to be centered by it. It is your source. For balance. For harmony. If you are good, it is a treasure to be found; and, if you are bad, it is a refuge to come home to.
Going back, all the way to antiquity, the Tao has always been esteemed by those who were wise and virtuous. They understood that being one with it, when you seek you find; and, when you make a mistake you are forgiven.
I want our newly chosen leader to see that the Tao is beyond all value. It is beyond honors, which can be bought with fine words; and, it is beyond respect, which can be won with good deeds. No one can achieve it; and, that is why everyone should love it.
It would make us great, again.