Dao de Jing: The Book of the Way

By Laozi; Moss Roberts | Go to book overview
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STANZA 3
1. Do not promote those who excel
2. And folk will have no cause to quarrel.
3. Prize not goods too hard to find
4. And people won't be turned to crime.
5. These objects of desire unviewed,
6. The people's thoughts remain subdued.
7. Thus under a wise man's rule
8. Blank are their minds
9. But full their bellies,
10. Meek their wills
11. But tough their bones.
12. He keeps the folk
13. From knowing and craving,
14. And the intellects
15. From daring to lead.
16. By acting himself without taking the lead
17. Inside his kingdom all is well ruled.

COMMENT The slogan “promote those who excel” (shangxian) comes from Mozi, who urged the appointment of able commoners to government office in preference to nobles and royal kinsmen. Commoners would be rewarded for their knowledge and expertise, both technical and administrative. Laozi opposed this type of state activism (wei). In his view this recruiting policy in the service of state building would only hasten the kingdoms along the path toward modernization and war, taking the common people farther and farther away from the simple life that Laozi thinks they once enjoyed. 1

An important thinker of the generation after Confucius, Mozi

-33-

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