The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao.
In dwelling, live close to the ground.
In thinking, keep to the simple.
In conflict, be fair and generous.
In governing, don’t try to control.
In work, do what you enjoy.
In family life, be completely present.
When you are content to be simply yourself
and don’t compare or compete,
everybody will respect you.
The story of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1-8), tells of builders on the plains of Babylon who wanted to build a tower that would “reach into the sky. This will make us famous..”
Built with bricks (not stone) and tar (not mortar), the tower was doomed from the start. Every inch of its increasing height bore down more heavily on its less than adequate foundation. The plans the builders had for both their achievement and the fame it would bring were folly. Instead of fame, their half-baked plans brought them derision, and a mess to clean up.
To simply be oneself is not a simple task. Caught in the onslaught of culture, the worship of false idols, the fragility and care of bent egos, and others’ definitions of success, it is a difficult process to discover, or re-discover, who we really are. The ancient truths of the Tao are invaluable it that quest:
Humility, fairness and generosity, cooperation, joyfulness, and presence are qualities that can be practiced; they get easier and more natural over time if they are not part of one’s life now.
Where and when to begin? Here and now. The Tao is. Here and now, as are we all.
2 thoughts on “Tao Te Ching 8”
Thanks for reminding me of my favorite Lao Tzu…
The highest motive is to be like water. Water is essential to all living things, yet it demands no pay or recognition. Rather it flows humbly to the lowest level.
Nothing is weaker than water; yet for overcoming what is hard and strong, nothing surpasses it.
I picked up an audiobook by Wayne Dyer at the library today called “Change Your Thoughts: Change Your Life.” It’s supposed to be a meditation on 81 verses of Tao Te Ching. I picked it up only because I love your posts and quotes and have been wanting to learn more about them. Can you recommend a book for noobs like myself who have never heard of his sayings before?