“Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 58” by Lao Tzu

Where the ruler is mum, mum,
The people are simple and happy.
Where the ruler is sharp, sharp,
The people are wily and discontented.

Bad fortune is what good fortune leans on,
Good fortune is what bad fortune hides in.
Who knows the ultimate end of this process?
Is there no norm of right?
Yet what is normal soon becomes abnormal,
And what is auspicious soon turns ominous.
Long indeed have the people been in a quandary.

Therefore, the Sage squares without cutting, carves without disfiguring, straightens without straining, enlightens without dazzling.

This passage seems especially timely given the current state of affairs in the US. As we grapple with public outrage and social disruption, the sharp responses we have seen have failed to calm the situation. As Lao Tzu points out, people are discontented.

I can’t stop thinking about the last line of the second stanza: “Long indeed have the people been in a quandary.” It has been a painfully long time that we seem to have been dealing with the same set of social issues. I do not claim to know how to begin addressing the myriad problems facing our society, but I agree with Lao Tzu that our normal has become abnormal. All I can do is try to encourage change through personal example.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay safe and be a positive power in the world.


Filed under Literature, Non-fiction, Spiritual

5 responses to ““Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 58” by Lao Tzu

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Jeff. These lines definitely mirror the current and, as you point out, painfully long mess our society has been in.

    • Yeah, we are in desperate need of some compassionate leadership. Thanks for stopping by, Barb, and for taking the time to comment. Stay well.

  2. This passage does make sense especially in todays world. Thanks for posting these Jeff as they make me think. lol
    Like I said I like how you tie it all in so It makes sense.
    Take care and stay safe down their Bro!

    • Well, I really appreciate all your support. When I was a lowly English major in college, I had a professor tell me that these things we read truly matter in the world. I took that to heart. And I feel the same way about music. It matters. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Cheers!