Saturday, 7 July 2007


This is my most favorite Tao Te Ching chapter:
The highest goodness resembles water
Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention
It stays in places that people dislike
Therefore it is similar to the Tao

Dwelling with the right location
Feeling with great depth
Giving with great kindness
Speaking with great integrity
Governing with great administration
Handling with great capability
Moving with great timing

Because it does not contend
It is therefore beyond reproach

Chapter 8 - Translation by Derek Lin

Water is an amazing substance. Without it there would be no life on the planet. Water flows right where it's needed, accommodating itself to its surroundings without any fuss. As Derek Lin says in his commentary on this chapter, "water provides its benefits and moves on, without waiting for any benefits in return." It nourishes weeds and flowers alike.

It is not easy to emulate the characteristics of water. Too often we want things and people to accommodate to us instead of making some accommodation ourselves. Too often we try and nudge things along the way we want them to go. And by "we," I mean "me," of course.

I have a small water fountain near the front door of the house that is on a timer, set to come on for a while in the morning and several hours the evening. I can hear it make its nice trickling sound in the morning before work and in the evenings before bed. It is a good reminder for me to focus on the essential, fundamental aspects of life and to try and be less contentious.

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