Dao de Jing: The Book of the Way

By Laozi; Moss Roberts | Go to book overview
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STANZA 65
1. Those of old who pursued the Way
2. Never meant to make their people see;
3. Their purpose was to keep them unaware.
4. The people are harder to manage
5. For knowing things.
6. To have the learned govern the kingdom
7. Is a bane to the kingdom.
8. Not to have them
9. Is a boon to the kingdom.
10. Know always that this double dictum
11. Defines a guide to judgment,
12. Which when firmly fixed in mind
13. May be called sublime virtue.
14. Such virtue, deep and reaching far,
15. In counter-motion like all things,
16. Achieves congruence with the Way.

COMMENT Mencius (3 A4.8) describes how the sagekings of antiquity first taught (jiao) the people to sow and reap and then appointed a minister of education to teach the people about social relations and their attendant ethical codes so that the people's virtue (de) would be stimulated. Laozi opposes the entire Confucian principle of government by education.

There are relevant passages in the Analects as well to which this stanza may refer. Analects 8.9 says, “What the people may be made to follow they may not be made to understand. This passage is sometimes adduced as a parallel to stanza 65 of the Laozi, a variant on the theme of keeping the people ignorant. However, Confucius may simply be acknowledging the limits of the people in a particu

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