Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Chapter 61
Lying Low

A great country is like the sea,
Like a watershed that all rivers flow down toward.
The feminine of the world,
It joins everything together
Overcoming aggression with humility, stillness, and peace.

In this way a great country
Wins over smaller and weaker ones
With respect and appreciation.
Not threatened, smaller countries support and sustain the larger
Winning patronage and protection
Like the feminine drawing in the male.

They both lie low to be on top,
Accomplish by surrendering.

Commentary

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”

The Buddha गौतम बुद्ध
(Siddhartha Shakyamuni Gautama)
563 – 483 BCE
Awakened Truth

Themes: Peace

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“Water is for fish and air for men. Natures differ, and needs with them. Hence the wise men of old did not lay down one measure for all.”

Chuang Tzu 莊周
(Zhuangzi)
369 – 286 BCE

Themes: Water Belief

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“Nature hath given men one tongue but two ears, that we may hear from others twice as much as we speak.”

Epictetus Ἐπίκτητος
55 – 135 CE
from Discourses of Epictetus, Ἐπικτήτου διατριβαί

Themes: Less is More

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“Perfect peace lies in freedom from characteristic distinctions… free from the idea of a personality, free from the idea of a being, and free from the idea of a separated individuality.”

Nagarjuna नागर्जुन
c. 150-250 CE

Themes: Egolessness

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“The world turns to the great state that cultivates humility. Thus, each gets what it wants. But it is the great state that needs to be more humble.”

Wang Bi 王弼
226 – 534 CE

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“a racrhorse used to catch a rat
will never match a crippled cat.”

Han Shan
(Cold Mountain)
c. 730-850 CE

Themes: Less is More

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“For the person who has learned to let go and let be, nothing can ever get in the way again.”

Meister Eckhart
(Eckhart von Hochheim)
1260 – 1328 CE

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“Rarely do great beauty and great virtue dwell together.”

Petrarch
1304 – 1374 CE

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“Slowly slowly O mind, everything in own pace happens, fruit arrives only in its season.”

Kabīr कबीर
1399 – 1448 CE

Themes: Patience

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“The first great rule of life - to put up with things – is half of all wisdom… We often have to put up with the most from those on whom we most depend… Out of patience comes forth peace, the priceless boon that is the happilness of the world.”

Balthasar Gracian via Joseph Jacobs, Shan Dao chapter #159
1601 – 1658 CE
from Art of Worldly Wisdom

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“Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards..”

Benjamin Franklin
1706 – 1790 CE
from Poor Richard's Almanack

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“Genius always rises like a palm-tree above the soil in which it is rooted.”

Arthur Schopenhauer
1788 – 1860 CE

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“A woman’s strength is the irresistible might of weakness.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882 CE

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“It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.”

Mark Twain
(Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
1835 – 1910 CE

Themes: Deception

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“There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people.”

Robert Louis Stevenson
1850 – 1894 CE

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“Know the Power that is Peace.”

Black Elk
(Heȟáka Sápa)
1863 – 1950 CE

Themes: Power

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“If there were no girls like them in the world, there would be no poetry.”

Willa Cather
1873 – 1948 CE
Modern day Lao Tzu

Themes: Poetry Sex

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“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”

G. K. Chesterton
1874 – 1936 CE

Themes: Humility

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“Woman always stands just where the man's shadow falls, so that he is only too liable to confuse the two. Then, when he tries to repair this misunderstanding, he overvalues her and believes her the most desirable thing in the world.”

Carl Jung
1875 – 1961 CE

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“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955 CE

Themes: Skillful Means

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“She was beautiful in her ignorance, virtuous in her simplicity, and strong in her weakness. Today she has become ugly in her ingenuity, superficial and heartless in her knowledge. Will the day ever come when beauty and knowledge, ingenuity and virtue, and weakness of body and strength of spirit will be united… ?”

Kahlil Gibran
1883 – 1931 CE

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“All women are not Helen but have Helen in their hearts.”

William Carlos Williams
1883 – 1963 CE

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“The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility.”

T.S. Eliot
1888 – 1965 CE
from Four Quartets

Themes: Humility

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“People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.”

Audrey Hepburn
1929 – 1993 CE

Themes: Compassion

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“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.”

Audrey Hepburn
1929 – 1993 CE

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“what people call beautiful is really just decay… How much greater is the beauty that is underneath the surface.”

Gesshin Myoko Roshi
1931 – 1999 CE

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“If we do not live where we work, when we work we are wasting our lives and our work too.”

Wendell Berry
1934 CE –

Themes: Less is More

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“Ever notice that anyone going slower than you is an idiot, but anyone going faster is a maniac?”

George Carlin
1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

Themes: Projection

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“You don’t have to try to catch the universe in the same way that you would try to catch a grasshopper or a flea. You don’t have to do something with what you have experienced, particularly… If you actually want to use something, you have to let it be.”

Chögyam Trungpa
1939 – 1987 CE
from Journey Without Goal

Themes: Letting Go

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“Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.”

John Lennon
1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Letting Go

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“Peace is not something you wish for; It's something you make, Something you do , Something you are, And something you give away.”

John Lennon
1940 – 1980 CE

Themes: Peace

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Comments (1)

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  1. Shan Dao
    Some translations of this chapter seem to have been corrupted and changed into justifications for large countries dominating small ones. Our translation tries to stress Lao Tzu’s clear insight into the natural harmony and synergy of big/small, male/female, rich/poor.