Chapters 29, 17-20

Part 14= Society

September 15, 2021

Chapter 29: Society

1 If any one should wish to get the kingdom or society for himself and to effect this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed.

A society is a spirit-like thing. It cannot be got by active doing.

  • He who wins it destroys it.
  • He who holds it in his grasp loses it.

2 The course and nature of things is such that:

  • what was in front is now behind
  • what warmed is now freezing

Strength is really weakness that often spoils. The store that lay in ruins mocks our effort.

Hence the sage puts away excessive effort, extravagance, and easy indulgence.

Chapter 17= Social Cycles

1 In the highest antiquity, the people did not know that there should be rulers.

In the next age, they loved them and praised them.

In the next they feared them;

in the next they despised them.

Thus, when faith in the Tao or True Nature was deficient in the rulers, the people lacked faith in them.

2 Those earliest rulers were so irresolute! They gave importance to their words through their silence, when in fact, their work was done, their undertakings were successful, because of the people who said, ‘We are as we are, of ourselves!’

Chapter 18= Discord

1 When the people stopped observing the flow of the Tao or True Nature, benevolence and righteousness came into vogue. Afterwards, appeared wisdom and shrewdness, and then there ensued great hypocrisy.

2 When harmony no longer prevailed throughout the six kinships, filial sons found their manifestation. When the states and clans fell into disorder, loyal ministers appeared.

Chapter 19= Avoiding Discord by the Removal of Fetters

1 If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it would be better for the people a hundredfold.

If we could renounce our benevolence and discard our righteousness, the people would again become filial and kindly.

If we could renounce our artful contrivances and discard our (scheming for) gain, there would be no thieves nor robbers.

2 Those three methods of renunciation were practiced in the past but evetually failed Human desires made people avoid renunciation. Their selfish ends and many lusts made the past simple views and plain courses obsolete

Chapter 20= The Fetters Include Aimless Curiosity and Pleasures

1 When we renounce learning, we have no troubles.

The ready ‘yes,’ and flattering ‘yea’ show a small difference. But the motives behind the difference can be anything.

How wide and endless is the range of possible questions!

2 People look satisfied and pleased as if:

  • enjoying a full banquet,
  • if mounted on a tower in spring.

I alone seem listless and still, my desires having as yet given no indication of their presence. I am like an infant which has not yet smiled. I look dejected and forlorn, as if I had no home to go to. The multitude of men all have enough and to spare.

I alone seem to have lost everything. My mind is that of a stupid man; I am in a state of chaos.

Ordinary men look bright and intelligent, while I alone seem to be benighted. They look full of discrimination, while I alone am dull and confused. I seem to be carried about as on the sea, drifting as if I had nowhere to rest.

All men have their spheres of action, while I alone seem dull and incapable, like a rude borderer.

Thus, I alone am different from other men. But I value the nursing-mother the Tao or True Nature.