"He is also good to those who are not good."
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 49
The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained
The sage has no concern for himself,
But makes the concerns of others his own.
He is good to those who are good.
He is also good to those who are not good.
That is the virtue of good.
He is faithful to people who are faithful.
He is also faithful to people who are not faithful.
That is the virtue of faithfulness.
The sage is one with the world,
And lives in harmony with it.
People turn their eyes and ears to him,
And the sage cares for them like his own children.
The Concern of the Sage
Tao Te Ching has great similarities with at least two
other ideals – that of Zen and that of Christianity as expressed
by Jesus in the Gospels. This chapter is a clear example of
There is reason for caution when finding
similarities with what is part of one's own culture and tradition. We
in the Western world have a tendency to compare
everything we meet, no matter how exotic, with the concepts
familiar to our own culture.
This is particularly true when we examine other
religions and their gods. Actually, some of these traditions
can only be called religions with quite a stretch of the
imagination as well as the definition. The same is true for what
we call gods.
But the similarities between the words of Jesus
and those of Lao Tzu are so evident that I dare to point them out.
In this chapter, when Lao Tzu says that we should
be good even to those who aren't, and that the sage cares
for other people as if they were his own children, then it's
almost as if he spoke the words of Jesus. Well, considering
his seniority in time, it would be more correct to say that
Jesus spoke as if quoting Lao Tzu. There are several chapters
of the Tao Te Ching giving the same impression.
The self-sacrificing attitude Lao Tzu demonstrates
in this chapter, is so familiar to our Christian tradition
that there is no need for me to expand on it. We should set
our own needs aside for the benefit of our fellow men. It's
easier said than done. But if we all do it, Paradise on Earth
is around the corner.
We should volunteer to show goodness and faith,
without demanding the same in return. If such qualities are
not unconditional, we remain in the paranoid world of
everyone waiting for everyone else to lay down arms before
we do so ourselves.
Lao Tzu describes this unselfishness as virtue,
te, the second word in the title of his book. Virtue is the course
of action, or non-action, necessary to live in accordance
with the Way. It's not a method to reach success or praise, but
it will lead to those things as well. Primarily, though, it's
what should be done in order to accept what is natural.
It's what we do when we don't struggle to counter
the natural course of things. That's why we mostly need to
refrain from action, and accept what occurs.
© Stefan Stenudd.
Tao Te Ching Explained
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