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Chuang-tzu Chapter Seven: Rules for Ruling

Chapter seven of the Chuang-tzu is sometimes called "The Normal Course for Kings and Rulers," but Cleary calls it "Responsive Leadership."  I make a mistake often and say "responsible leadership."  But perhaps leadership is only responsible when it is responsive,  At any rate, both words come from the Latin word (respondere) meaning "to promise," and also from a much more ancient word (spend) meaning a ritual or sacred act.  Heavy stuff -- responsibility and responsiveness. 

The last story in chapter seven (and perhaps the last word to us from Chuang Chou) is one of my favorite Taoist stories.  Here is Cleary's version in its entirety:

     The lord of the south sea was Abrupt; the lord of the north sea was Sudden.  From time to time Abrupt and Sudden met
     together in the territory of Primal Unity, and Primal Unity treated them very well.
     Abrupt and Sudden planned to repay Primal Unity's kindness;
     "People all have seven openings through which they see, hear, eat, and breathe.  Primal Unity has none."  Let us make
     openings in Primal Unity."
     So every day they gouged out a hole.  After seven days,  Primal Unity died.

That there should be controversy over the meaning of this story from a Taoist perspective seems to me almost inconceivable.  Sudden and Abrupt are human beings,  Primal Unity is clearly not.  What is Primal Unity?  Is it Chaos?  Is it the Tao itself?  If it is nature, the point of the story is obvious.  If we force nature into our image, we will destroy it--and eventually ourselves.  We were intended to form ourselves in nature's image, not the other way around.  Nature is the great teacher of the Way.

A suggestion for a person who wants tp bring order to his or her country (or self, or family or cosmos): don't try!

Another suggestion: "Is the government of sages  government of externals?  It is simply a matter of acting only when correct, making certain of the ability to do ones work.  That is all.

Three suggestions for running a country:
1. Cover the whole land with achievement while appearing not to act.
2. Benefit all beings without making them dependent.
3. Stand on the unfathomable and roam in nonbeing.

Four suggestions for making the world orderly:
1. Set your mind free in calmness.
2. Combine your energy with openness.
3. Harmonize with things naturally,
4. Do not allow yourself to be affected by selfish bias.

Eight suggestions for responsible leadership;:
1. Know you have not even begun to learn.
2. Stay home.
3. Cook for your wife (or husband)
4. Feed the pigs as if you were feeding people.
5. Become impersonal in all things.
6. Become simple, stolid, and independent.
7. Be calm in the midst of bustling activity.
8, Be consistent.

Ten final suggestions for trustworthy leaders.
1. Do not be subject to labels.
2. Do not be full of schemes.
3. Do not assume you're in charge of affairs.
4. Do not be subject to knowledge.
5. Comprehend the infinite.
6. Roam in the traceless.
7.  Fulfill what you have received from Nature.
8.  Give up the idea of attainment.
9. Just be empty.
10. Be like a mirror, responding without concealment.

A later teacher, perhaps an Essene or a Cynic or a Pharisee, is supposed to have said "Those who would be chief among you must be servants of all."  What a great summary of the Taoist view of leadership.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 20th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC)
Once the Roman emperor Hadrian was stopped on the street by a woman with a petition for him, and pled that he was too busy. "Then don't be emperor," said the woman.

I've missed seeing your postings, and wondered a couple of days ago how you and Diane were doing.
Feb. 20th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Things have been going along as they go along. I am grateful that I have so far been (almost) up to the challenges of caregiving, Constant mindfulness is not yet a part of my being. "Adventures with oxygen," and "adventures with arthritis" require separate detailed entries. Perhaps "the system and its symptoms." would warrant words of satire. I make many mistakes and there have been some close calls. But things are basically going well. We both mainly retain our senses of humor and have been able to enjoy the Olympic Games. Compulsory dancing gave us pleasure as will the Original dancing on Sunday. Communion servers and others from the church come by a couple times a week and Home Health staff are too frequent visitors
Feb. 21st, 2010 04:13 am (UTC)
I'm glad to read this news, too.
Feb. 21st, 2010 05:53 am (UTC)
Thank you for your concern
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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