“Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 60” by Lao Tzu

Ruling a big kingdom is like cooking a small fish.
When a man of Tao reigns over the world, demons
have no spiritual powers. Not that the demons have no
spiritual powers, but the spirits themselves do no harm
to men. Not that the spirits do no harm to men, but the
Sage himself does no harm to his people. If only the
ruler and his people would refrain from harming each
other, all the benefits of life would accumulate in the

“Ruling a big kingdom is like cooking a small fish.” I had to think about this for a little bit before grasping the metaphor, but once I got it, the entire passage became clear. Cooking a small fish requires being gentle and careful, and not to use a high heat. High heat represents a hot temper in a ruler. Essentially, society should be governed with compassion and care, with support and understanding. To rule with an iron fist is detrimental to the health and prosperity of a society.

The last sentence is particularly poignant in our world: If only we could refrain from harming each other, the world would improve. It is really simple, yet incredibly difficult. As long as we maintain an us v. them  mentality, and as long as we allow our self-centeredness to dictate our behaviors, there will always be unnecessary suffering in the world.

It is the responsibility of all of us to do what we can to make the world a better place for all people. Remember, small personal changes can lead to grand global changes. Let us try to keep this adage in mind as we go about our day.



Filed under Literature, Spiritual

9 responses to ““Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 60” by Lao Tzu

  1. True if we can refrain from harming each other we would be better off. Unfortunately that may not happen but we can always hope.
    Speaking of hope I’m thinking of you and your family down there Jeff.
    Oh by the way I wanted to thank you for liking my VH post on Instagram the other day. I know VH is not your deal. lol

    Take care…

    • Thanks for the good vibes. Thankfully, we are all healthy and doing well. Benefits of leading a quiet life. Re VH, they are more nostalgic for me now. Would never spend a penny to see them again, but I don’t switch the channel either if they come on the radio 😉

      Best to you and the family.

  2. Hi Jeff – it’s an excellent thing to remember. A single person usually feels like there’s nothing they can do, but small changes go a long way.

    • Hi Barb. Hope you are well, and thanks for commenting.

      Yes, I tell my kids that everything they do, no matter how trivial it seems, has an effect on the world. We may not know the long-term ramifications of what we do, but everything matters.

      BTW – loved your post about the library being more than a place to get books. So true. As a kid, the library was where we would hang out, play games, listen to records, etc. Also community meetings there. You are doing great work!


      • Hi Jeff – and thanks for that nice compliment! A lot of library things are virtual right now, but we are partially open for people to pop in and get their books. I can tell that many are itching to have a place to hang out.

  3. “The Sage himself does no harm to his people.” Yes, it is like cooking a small fish. Great post.

  4. Thank you for explaining about cooking a small fish. I wasn’t sure what was meant by that , but your explanation makes perfect sense, and it seems like a great analogy now.