December 2nd, 2009

Chapter eighty: Freedom

Let there be a little country without many people.
Let them have tools that do the work of ten or a hundred,
and never use them.
Let them be mindful of death
and disinclined to long journeys.
They'd have ships and carriages,
but no place to go.
They'd have armor and weapons,
but no parades.
Instead of writing,
they might go back to using knotted cords.
They'd enjoy eating,
take pleasure in clothes,
be happy in their houses,
devoted to their customs.

The next little country might be so close,
the people could hear cocks crowing
and dogs barking there,
but they'd get old and die
without ever having been there.

Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching.
Interpreted by Ursula K. Le Guin.
goban
  • trevoke

80

A small country has fewer people.
Though there are machines that can work ten to a hundred times faster than man, they are not needed.
The people take death seriously and do not travel far.
Though they have boats and carriages, no one uses them.
Though they have armor and weapons, no one displays them.
Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.
Their food is plain and good, their clothes fine but simple, their homes secure;
They are happy in their ways.
Though they live within sight of their neighbors,
And crowing cocks and barking dogs are heard across the way,
Yet they leave each other in peace while they grow old and die.
-
-
Lao Tzu had a dream
about a small country
with very few people.

They didn't need machines
to get their work done faster.
They took their lives seriously,
and stayed close to home.

They may have owned
boats and carriages,
but they never went anywhere.
They may have owned weapons,
but they kept those weapons
locked up, securely hidden.
They had so few responsibilities,
they never had to make a To-Do list
to remember what had to be done.

They enjoyed simple foods,
dressed plainly,
lived comfortably,
and kept their traditions alive.

And even though
their neighbors were so close
they could hear
the dogs barking at night,
they had no interest
in leaving their homes,
where they grew old peacefully
and died.
-

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