The Daodejing of Laozi is a book of poetry pertaining to Chinese philosophy. The Daodejing is most often translated into meaning “the Classic of the Way and its Virtue.” Its text is full of religious verses that are often compared to the Bible. Throughout the text, the Daodejing encounters a variety of topics including: dao, earth, peace, rulers, society, and humility. Upon reading the text, I discovered that chapters seventeen and sixty-six are connected because they are both associated with ruling.
For instance, chapter seventeen informs readers which type of leader is the best, while chapter sixty-six shows how to be the best leader you can be. Although both poems are similar, they each have their own meaning and significance. Chapter seventeen is a poem that lists in chronological order the different style of leaders from best to worst. It is thought that the best kind of leader is one who people seldom notice and hardly know they exist. After that, the best is a leader who is loved by everyone. Followed by a leader that is feared by all. The worst type of leader overall is one who people despise.
The poem then goes to explain that a leader who gives trust often earns trust. The leaders profile is low, and their words are considered. They feel their work is complete when every one pronounces, “look what we’ve achieved!” Chapter sixty-six makes clear that the ocean is so great because it lies below all waters. It calls a million streams its own. If the wise guide the people, they must serve with modesty. To receive high honor, position yourself below others. To lead others, position yourself behind them. The person of honesty comes before others without offending, stands above others without dominating.
If the wise follow these rules, the people will not feel demoralized. In addition, the people will all support the ruler and never doubt the ruler’s ways. Since a true leader does not compete, they will never meet their competition. Of all the poems in the Daodejing these two were my favorite on ruling because they teach you that you don’t have to act domineering or be in control to get your point across. In fact, by listening to others opinions and commentary can only make working together that much easier.
Courtney from Study Moose
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