Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Inspired by Tao Te Ching - chapter 38


上德不德,是以有德;下德不失德,是以無德。上德無為而無以為;下德為之而有以為。上仁為之而無以為;上義為之而有以為。上禮為之而莫之應,則攘臂而扔 之。故失道而後德,失德而後仁,失仁而後義,失義而後禮。夫禮者,忠信之薄,而亂之首。前識者,道之華,而愚之始。是以大丈夫處其厚,不居其薄;處其實, 不居其華。故去彼取此。

My translation of chapter 38 of Tao Te Ching:

The most virtuous man are not seen as performing virtuous act
That's why he is most virtuous
A rule-abiding man never strays away noticeable rules
that's why he cannot be called virtuous

The most virtuous man uses no visible action to create change
The rule-abiding man uses noticeable action to create change
The most benevolent man uses no visible action to create change
The most righteous man uses no visible action to create change

When Tao is lost, virtuousness has to be promoted
When virtuousness is lost, benevolence has to be promoted
When benevolence is lost, righteousness has to be promoted
When righteousness is lost, a society has not other option, but to depend on rules

When a society has to depend on rules as the tool for good behaviors
its righteous and benevolent ideals have been lost
The beginning of chaos and unrest

Those who have the vision can differentiate between Tao and chaos
Therefore an honorable man understands
what ideals he should keep
which tendency he should avoid

Paul's comment: This chapter has immense contemporary relevancy. 

Nowadays we shouldn't just depend on rules (like the rule of law or the rule of market economy) to solve our society's problems.  Future progress depends on people (in particular people in power, including political, economic etc) behaving in the most conscientious way even, or in particular, when nobody is watching, and even, or in particular, when one can get away with one's selfish acts.  For organizations, it is an internalized upholding of the ideal of being a socially conscious organization, at all levels of management.

Is our society heading for trouble? Everyone's choice.

Chinese calligraphy of Chapter 38 of Tao Te Ching: 翟顺和书法老子"道德经"

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