October 22nd, 2009

Chapter thirty-nine: Integrity

Those who of old got to be whole:

Heaven through its wholeness is pure;
earth through its wholeness is steady;
spirit through its wholeness is potent;
the valley through its wholeness flows with rivers;
the ten thousand things through their wholeness live;
rulers through their wholeness have authority.
Their wholeness makes them what they are.

Without what makes it pure, heaven would disintegrate;
without what steadies it, earth would crack apart;
without what makes it potent, spirit would fail;
without what fills it, the valley would run dry;
without what quickens them, the ten thousand things would die;
without what authorizes them, rulers would fall.

The root of the noble is in the common,
the high stands on what's below.
Princes and kings call themselves
"orphans, widowers, beggars,"
to get themselves rooted in the dirt.

A multiplicity of riches
is poverty.
Jade is praised as precious,
but its strength is being stone.

Lao Tsu, interpreted by Ursula Le Guin
goban
  • trevoke

39

These things from ancient times arise from one:
The sky is whole and clear.
The earth is whole and firm.
The spirit is whole and strong.
The valley is whole and full.
The ten thousand things are whole and alive.
Kings and lords are whole, and the country is upright.
All these are in virtue of wholeness.

The clarity of the sky prevents its falling.
The firmness of the earth prevents its splitting.
The strength of the spirit prevents its being used up.
The fullness of the valley prevents its running dry.
The growth of the ten thousand things prevents their drying out.
The leadership of kings and lords prevents the downfall of the country.

Therefore the humble is the root of the noble.
The low is the foundation of the high.
Princes and lords consider themselves "orphaned", "widowed" and "worthless".
Do they not depend on being humble?

Too much success is not an advantage.
Do not tinkle like jade
Or clatter like stone chimes.
-
-
Since time began,
this is what it's meant
to be in touch with Tao:

Tao made the heavens clear.
Tao made the earth solid.
Tao made our spirits strong.
Tao made the valleys fertile.
Tao gave all living things life.
Tao gave rulers authority.

Without Tao,
the heavens would collapse.
Without Tao,
the earth would crumble.
Without Tao,
our spirits would fade away.
Without Tao,
the valleys would dry up.
Without Tao,
all life would become extinct.
Without Tao,
rulers would stumble and fall.

Humility gives us power.
Our leaders should think of themselves
as insignificant, powerless,
unworthy of their stature.
Isn't that what humility is all about?

Be strong,
but pay no attention to hollow praise.
Don't call attention to yourself.
Don't make a scene.
-

The first version is from the Fortune files. The second version is the Beatrice Tao.