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"He must speak to them from below."

Tao Te Ching - Chapter 66

Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tzu.

The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained


66

The river and the sea can be kings of a hundred valleys,

Because they lie below them.

That is why they can be the kings of a hundred valleys.


Therefore:

If the sage wants to stand above people,

He must speak to them from below.

If he wants to lead people,

He must follow them from behind.


Therefore:

When the sage stands above people,

They are not oppressed.

When he leads people,

They are not obstructed.

The world will exalt him

And not grow tired of him.


Because he does not resist,

None in the world resists him.



Go Low to Stand High

When Lao Tzu says that there are things that can rule over valleys, it comes as a surprise. He frequently compares Tao to the valley, and who can rule Tao? But the rivers float downwards and the sea is lower than the land, so they behave like Tao in their yielding. By their humble yielding they can become rulers.

       The sage knows very well to do the same. When he rises above people, he speaks to them as from below, like a servant and not a king. When leading them in a certain direction, he walks behind them, as if following their initiative.

       The art of leadership is not to be obvious about it. People are happy to obey someone who makes his or her orders into questions, instead of exclamations.

       It's not just an attitude, like acting on a stage. It needs to be accompanied by certain principles of leadership, striving not to increase people's burdens, but to diminish them.

       Power includes the ability to treat others hurtfully and make decisions that oppose their interests. The good leader should struggle hard to avoid such actions. The welfare of the people should always be the leader's primary concern.

       Following behind people, instead of being an obstruction in front of them, also means being sensitive to their needs. Merely hiding in the back of the line, right after pointing the way, is not enough.

       The good leader should always be sensitive to where people really want to go, what directions they favor and which ones they want to avoid. That's following behind.


Always Several Options

It's still an active leadership. Most of all, the ruler gets to choose which one of several options will be pursued. There are always several options. When making the choice, the good leader considers people's welfare and the wishes they might have in their hearts. Other considerations are secondary.

       The least important aspect is the leader's personal interest.

       People resist a leader who resists or ignores their interests. A leader, who makes it clear that what benefits the people is what's first on the agenda, will not be opposed. How can you oppose someone who is devoted to work on what's best for you?

       Such leaders are rare, so we would all make sure to obey and respect them.

© 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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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.


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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.


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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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