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"In haste the ruler is lost."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 26

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


26

Heavy is the root of light.

Stillness is the ruler of haste.


Therefore:

Although he travels all day,

The sage never loses sight of his luggage carts.

Only when he rests securely inside the walls,

He relaxes his attention.


Why would a ruler with ten thousand chariots

Look lightly on himself or his domain?

In lightness the root is lost.

In haste the ruler is lost.



Be Still

In his stream of wisdom, Lao Tzu also occasionally enjoys playing with words. He does so in the very first lines of the Tao Te Ching, where Tao is used as both a noun and a verb. In this chapter, the joke is the ruler in the second line compared to the last line.

       In the former, the principle of stillness is the ruler of haste, whereas in the last line the ruler who is lost in haste is a human one, neglecting himself and his domain.

       It's a high-brow kind of humor, one would say, but Lao Tzu might have giggled putting it together. The book has several examples of the same kind of humor, a play with words that creates double meanings – both of them profound. That's what many poets can't resist doing.

       To be heavy is shouldering one's responsibilities and holding one's ground. Stillness is acting with caution and well prepared. This is important for anyone to understand, but particularly for a ruler, since the consequences of neglect would be much direr.

       We have just learned, in chapter 25, that the king is one of the four greats, so he has to behave like one. Power means responsibility and responsibility means care. The ruler has the most in his care, so he has to be the most careful.

       Being heavy and still, a ruler does not eagerly spring into action, but waits until it is time, and then does just what is called for. Nothing more.

       Eagerness to act tends to create more problems than it solves.

© Stefan Stenudd.

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Tao Te Ching Explained


Preface


Introduction


Literature


The 81 Chapters of Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu
translated and explained by Stefan Stenudd.
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Tao Te Ching Explained


James Legge's Tao Te Ching


Aleister Crowley's Tao Te Ching


The 1st Chapter of Tao Te Ching in 76 Versions


Lao Tzu - Legendary Author of Tao Te Ching





My Taoism Books:


Tao Te Ching - The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Te Ching

The Taoism of Lao Tzu Explained. The great Taoist philosophy classic by Lao Tzu translated, and each of the 81 chapters extensively commented. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.


Tao Quotes - the Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Tao Quotes

The Ancient Wisdom of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. 389 quotes from the foremost Taoist classic, divided into 51 prominent topics. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

       More about the book here.



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Cosmos of the Ancients. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Cosmos of the Ancients

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Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction. Stefan Stenudd


About me

I'm a Swedish author and aikido instructor. In addition to fiction, I've written books about Taoism and other East Asian traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. Click the image to get to my personal website.

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