June 22nd, 2011


If a land is small and its people are few,
With tenfold enough to have and to do,
And if no one has schooled them to waste supply
In the country for which they live and would die,
Then not a boat, not a cart
Tempts this people to depart,
Not a dagger, not a bow
Has to be drawn or bent for show,
People reckon by knots in a cord,
Relish plain food on the board,
Simple clothing suits them well,
And they remain content to dwell
In homes their customs can afford.
Though so close to their own town another town grow
They can hear its dogs bark and its roosters crow,
Yet glad of life in the village they know,
Where else in the world shall they need to go?

The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (The Witter Bynner version), Terebess Asia Online (TAO)



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.