Chapter 2

Chapter 2 is so Un-American, so Un-Western.  The words are easy to understand, but fiendishly difficult for male Americans such as myself to put into practice.  Here is the end of the chapter as translated by Stephen Mitchell:

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn't possess,
acts but doesn't expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever. 

I don't pretend to be a "master" but this mode of leading by doing is one that I truly believe in.   But somehow it doesn't seem to work for me.  Maybe my motives are not pure enough.  Maybe I am "leading by example" because I am not assertive enough.  Or maybe people here are so used to being prodded and nagged that they expect that. 

But leading invisibly just doesn't seem to work for me.  A Filipina friend of mine once informed me that "too much humility is a form of pride."  I think she is absolutely right.  I use self deprecation to actually draw attention to myself.  Folks as old as me might remember Johnny Carson's famous gesture where he would hold one hand high to stop the applause,  while his other hand, hanging at his side, was subtly encouraging it.

Perhaps if I stop looking for the applause my invisible leadership will create something lasting. 


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Filed under Self Improvement, Taoism

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