"People who are not good,
why abandon them?"
Tao Te Ching - Chapter 62
The Taoist Classic by Lao Tzu
Translated and Explained
The Way is the source of all things,
Good people's treasure and bad people's refuge.
Fine words are traded.
Noble deeds gain respect.
But people who are not good,
Why abandon them?
So, when the emperor is crowned
Or the three dukes are appointed,
Rather than sending a gift of jade
Carried by four horses,
Remain still and offer the Way.
Why did the ancients praise the Way?
Did they not say it was because you find what you seek
And are saved from your wrongdoings?
That is why the world praises it.
The Greatest Gift
This chapter is partly rather confusing. The division
of people into good and bad is not as convincingly Taoist
as, say, comparing their distance to Tao, the Way. But
they might refer to the same thing.
Lao Tzu is clear about those close to Tao being good,
so maybe those far away from it can be called bad. Still,
it would be more accurate to call them lost, like someone
leaving the road and getting too deep into the forest.
There's also an interesting difference in what Tao is
to the good and the bad: a treasure to the former and a
refuge to the latter. It indicates that the good are able to use
their understanding of Tao, whereas the others depend on it
for their well-being. One is active, the other passive.
This is repeated later in the chapter, where it says
that Tao saves you from wrongdoings.
It's a message of forgiveness. Tao is like a mother also
to those who have turned away from it. None is
abandoned. Those who speak fine words and do noble deeds get
their rewards, so they should do fine. But it would be cruel
to abandon those who are unable of the same, those who
Caring For All
Therefore, the first thing that the emperor should
receive when crowned is the understanding of Tao and the
compassion it promotes.
So should the three dukes, san-kung. This important
trio of ancient China consisted of the Grand Preceptor,
the Grand Mentor, and the Grand Guardian. In later versions
of the Tao Te Ching they were changed to the three
ministers, san-ch'ing, those of education, war, and work, because
they became more important in the government of China.
Rulers on all levels must understand that society
can only improve if all its inhabitants are guided. If just the
ones who already behave decently are cared for, the others
will soon cause tremendous problems. When they are
deserted and damned, the only thing remaining for them is to revolt.
Caring for the bad as well as the good is not only
the compassionate thing to do. It's also the most practical.
© Stefan Stenudd.
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