Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Inspired by Tao Te ching - chapter 8

道德經 - 第八章


My translation of chapter 8 of Tao Te Ching:

The supreme good is like water
Water serves everybody but competes with none
contented to be in the meanest position
Close to Tao

Be in places to serve
Be with a heart to serve
Be with the virtue of giving to serve
Be with dependable trust to serve
Be with righteous judgment to serve
Be with result orientation to serve
Be with the right timing to serve

Competing with none
breeds no grievance

Paul's inspiration: The water metaphor and the praise for being having water flexibility has been a major aspiration for Chinese. Bruce Lee characterized his combat philosophy as "Like water". We all want to be flexible and be able to adapt to the situation on hand. Laozi goes beyond this. Being like water, the objective is to serve others, and to serve humbly.  He puts a high demand in serving others. Not to compete and not to be in the spotlight are the prerequisites. The other requirements can be summarized as to do it truthfully and to get results. Who says Laozi is non-assertive? Who says Laozi is "anything goes"? As pragmatic as Chinese, Laozi can only win an audience by advocating "getting results".

"Close to Tao"? Not yet Tao? Yet, being a good guy is the only route to Tao - me saying it!

"The supreme good is like water" - a phrase commonly used in contemporary Chinese narrative. And it is also a brand name of a bottled sake in Japan. Laozi truly touches our contemporary mind.

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