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"Happiness is what misery lurks beneath."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 58

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


58

When the government is quite unobtrusive,

People are indeed pure.

When the government is quite prying,

People are indeed conniving.


Misery is what happiness rests upon.

Happiness is what misery lurks beneath.

Who knows where it ends?

Is there nothing correct?

Correct becomes defect.

Good becomes ominous.

People's delusions have certainly lasted long.


Therefore the sage is sharp but does not cut,

Pointed but does not pierce,

Forthright but does not offend,

Bright but does not dazzle.



What to Trust?

We are never closer to misery than when we are happy. The one so easily turns into the other. They are strongly linked, and mutually dependent. Were it not for happiness, misery would not exist, and the other way around. So, it's not always evident which is which.

       What was correct can suddenly prove to be completely wrong. It happens all the time in science. It's not rare in politics and philosophy either. The same uncertainty can be found in ethics. What's right today may be dead wrong tomorrow. What seems to be good can threaten to do a lot of harm.

       The future is as vague as the true state of the present. We don't know where we are going, because we don't really know where we are.

       Since mankind stands on such shaky ground, it would be rude and obtrusive of the sage to shout commands, declare conclusions, and point in an exact direction. People don't follow willingly when they feel forced, and they can't understand what they are not allowed to examine by themselves.

       The sage can gently give clues and appropriate suggestions, without demanding compliance. No more.

       Governments should do the same. Even if they are certain of knowing what's best for everybody, it will not be accomplished if done by force. People will react and resist.

       That might seem almost self-destructive, but the damage would be more severe and profound if people allowed themselves to be led on the Way, as if they were sheep. They are not, so they need to find their own way, even if that should lead them away from Tao. Otherwise they can never know when they happen to step on the right track.

       We don't walk on the Way with our feet only. We must be there with our whole beings, including our minds and hearts. So, it has to be voluntary, and the progress must be felt inside, instead of just proclaimed from above. We simply have to do it ourselves, each and every one of us.

       This is explained in chapters 18 and 38. Force is the worst, then rituals, then righteousness, then benevolence, then virtue, and above them all is Tao. It's impossible to lead people to Tao by force, almost as impossible to do it with rituals, and just slightly more possible with righteousness.

       Benevolence could almost do the trick, but not if it's turned into one of the others. It usually is. Benevolence is often used as an excuse for force, although force can never be benevolent.

© 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.



My Other Websites:


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Life Energy

The many ancient and modern life force beliefs all over the world explained.


Creation Myths

Creation stories from around the world, and the ancient cosmology they reveal.


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Other Books by Stefan Stenudd:


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

The Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


QI - increase your life energy. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Qi - Increase Your Life Energy

The life energy qi (also chi or ki) explained, with exercises on how to awaken, increase and use it. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Aikido Principles. Book by Stefan Stenudd. Aikido Principles

Basic Concepts of the Peaceful Martial Art
Aikido principles, philosophy, and basic ideas. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


Sunday Brunch with the World Maker. Novel by Stefan Stenudd. Sunday Brunch with the World Maker

Fiction. A brunch conversation slips into the mysterious, soon to burst beyond the realm of possibility. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.


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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