“The Tao makes no effort at all
yet there is nothing it doesn’t do
if a ruler could uphold it
the people by themselves would change
and changing if their desires stirred
he could make them still
with simplicity that has no name
and stilled by nameless simplicity
they would not desire
and not desiring be at peace
the world would fix itself”
(Taoteching: verse 37, translation by Red Pine)
CHUANG-TZU says, “The ancients ruled the world by doing nothing. This is the Virtue of Heaven. Heaven moves without moving.” (Chuangtzu:12.1).
WU CH’ENG says, “The Tao’s lack of effort is ancient and eternal and not simply temporary. Although it makes no effort, it does everything it should do. If rulers could uphold this Tao of effortlessness, without consciously thinking about changing others, others would change by themselves.”
LAO-TZU says, “I make no effort / and the people transform themselves” (Taoteching: 57).
TE-CH’ING says, “If nobles and kings could only uphold the Tao, all creatures would change by themselves without thinking about changing. This is the effect of upholding the Tao. When creatures first change, their desires disappear. But before long, their trust fades and feelings well up and begin to flow until desires reappear. When this occurs, those who are adept at saving others must block the source of desire with nameless simplicity.”
HO-SHANG KUNG says, “‘Nameless simplicity’ refers to the Tao, which all creatures use to transform themselves and which nobles and kings use to pacify those who engage in cleverness and deceit.”
CH’ENG HSUAN-YING says, “When people first change and begin to cultivate the Tao, they think about reaching a goal. Once this desire arises, it must be stilled with the Tao’s nameless simplicity.”
SU CH’E says, “Sages have no thought of embracing simplicity, nor do they show any sign of doing so. If the thought of becoming simple existed in their hearts, they would miss the mark completely.”
HSUAN-TSUNG says, “Once rulers use nameless simplicity to still the desires of the people, they must then give it up so that the people don’t follow its tracks and once again enter the realm of action. Once our illness is cured, we put away the medicine. Once we are across the river, we leave the boat behind. And once we are free of desire, we must also forget the desire to be free of desire. Serene and at peace, the ruler does nothing, while the world takes care of itself.”
SUNG CH’ANG-HSING says, “Other creatures follow their natures without creating chaos or disaster. They change by themselves without seeking change. People, meanwhile, race through the realm of existence and never know a quiet moment. They abandon their original innocence and don’t practice the true Tao of doing nothing. They don’t care about their lives, until one day they offend and retribution arrives.”
And RED PINE adds, “Name takes sides. Complexity limits options. Hence, those who uphold nameless simplicity don’t take sides and keep their options open.”
Today’s verse is the perfect summation of everything Lao-tzu has to teach about the art of governing. If only those who govern us would follow his sage advice.
I have been laughing out loud a lot for the last few days. Oprah gave a speech at the Golden Globe awards, and liberals shed tears. Lots of tears. Tears of joy. It is the second coming of the Messiah, Obama. Oprah will run for president in 2020. She will fix everything. Everyone will get a new car. It will be glorious. Liberals cry, and I laugh. Laughing beats crying, I think, because I could easily be crying. Just not tears of joy.
I am not meaning to disparage Oprah. I just think it is a hoot that so many want her to run, and that she just might. I actually hope she does. Anything that diminishes the office of presidency, and Oprah running against Trump in 2020 would certainly do that, regardless who the powers that be decide to “elect,” is probably the best I can hope for.
If I wasn’t laughing so hard I would probably get back to this perfect summation of everything Lao-tzu teaches on the art of governing. Pull yourself together, now. Breathe. Lao-tzu has some sage advice. Trump could learn a thing or twenty. And Oprah could, too. I just don’t expect they will. Still, here goes.
Instead of attempting to fix the world, let the world fix itself.
I know. As I have already said, I don’t think Lao-tzu’s sage advice is going to be followed. But still, you can’t fault me for holding up the Tao. It’s just what I do. Now, if only they would.
The Tao, unlike our illustrious leaders, makes no effort at all. Yet, there is nothing it doesn’t do. Why, if a ruler could uphold it, only uphold it, the people by themselves would change.
This so beats what our rulers do. They do and they do and they do. Yet nothing good ever gets accomplished by them. They do for us, and leave us with nothing to do for ourselves. Why, you can get locked up for doing for yourself. This never changes. It never changes, and we never change.
We remain full of desires. And, our rulers, far from stilling our desires, stir them up more. This never changes.
It would take governing with simplicity for that to change. A simplicity that has no name would still our desires; and because of this practice of not desiring, we would be at peace; and the world would fix itself.
But, of course, they don’t want that. World peace? Only beauty queens want that. Hey, maybe we could get a few of them to run for president in 2020, too. I thought 2016 was a circus. 2020 could be so much more entertaining.
Okay, I know I am enjoying this a whole lot more than I should. But, I just have to laugh to avoid crying. Because our rulers will continue to wage war all around the globe. They will continue to try to fix things, while making them all the more worse. But, if I get a new car won’t it be worth it?