Dao de Jing: The Book of the Way

By Laozi; Moss Roberts | Go to book overview
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STANZA 49
1. The wise maintain no constant mind,
2. But take as theirs the people's mind. 1
3. “Those minded to do good we take for good,
4. As we do those not so minded”:
5. And this obligates their goodness.
6. “And the trusted I trust,
7. As I trust the not-to-trust”:
8. And this obligates their trust.
9. In the world the wise man stands
10. All-enfolding, all-accepting—
11. No longer apart from the world, nor above.
12. The people lend him their eyes and their ears;
13. The wise man cradles them like babes. 2

COMMENT The opening image reverses the conventional Confucian position on the authority of the ruler over the ruled. The Confucian ruler is the judge of right and wrong and those he rules will follow the direction he sets, as grass bends to the wind's course.

The Guodian text Ziyi (Dark robes) attributes to Confucius these words: “The people take the ruler to be their mind, the ruler takes the people as his body. What the mind enjoys the body feels comfortable with; what the ruler enjoys the people will desire. 3 Making the ruler and the mind the determinative factors and the people and the body the responsive factors is a commonplace of Warring States Confucian thought. In the Guodian text Dexing (Virtuous conduct) the mind is spoken of as the ruler of the physical senses, the people as the physical being of the ruler. Laozi's ruler does not act as a superior director, however. Like water that seeks

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