09 November 2016

Dao is Just Right - not under nor over - DaoDeJing 58

We are mainly troubled by lack. But too much of a good thing is also bad. Dao gets the balance, just right. Bright to show the way but not too bright to hurt the eye. Lao Zi tells us in DaoDeJing 58
DaoDeJing Chapter 58 Text & Translation

其政闷闷,其民淳淳;
The government does the practical and mundane work and [goes not for glory].
So the people are honest and going about their business without fireworks.

其政察察,其民缺缺;
When the government tries to be too clever, to monitor and control things, the people end up in lacking in character and wealth,

祸兮福之所倚,福兮祸之所伏;
Disaster is the support for fortune. Fortune is where disaster hides in.

孰知其极,其无正。
Who know the limits?  There is no right answer.

正复为奇,善复为妖。
The opposite of normal is abnormal. The opposite of good is evil.

人之迷,其日固久,
People are in confusion for a long time.

是以圣人方而不割,廉而不刿,直而不肆,光而不耀。
Hence, the sage is square but hurt not. 
He is thrifty (clean with no corruption) but takes nothing away.
He is straight but not uncontrolled.
The light is bright but not hurting to the eyes.

Leadership is Not about being Too Smart
Leadership is about doing the basic things based on character virtues. It is not about out-smarting the people. It is trusting the people and giving them the freedom to do their productive work and making an honest living. Trying to put in too many laws and monitor the people too closely to make sure they do their work creates either a group of disheartened people doing the bare minimum requires and another group trying to out-smart the system. The more the control, the poorer the productivity!

Things Go in Cycle - It is not a straight line without end
There is the saying "what goes up must come down". This is a key concept in Chinese Philosophy. Another related concept is Yin and Yang. Lao Zi echoes the I-Ching cyclical pattern of change. Poverty brings change. Change brings flow. Flow leads to abundance and longevity. Longevity without change brings poverty.

The Key is to Have the Right Balance - The Right Amount of no less nor no more
Lack is bad. We must try to fill the gap. However, too much of a good thing could be bad too. Too much food will cause sickness as much as the lack of food. Too much money does not bring forth happiness but only leads to waste. There were many start-ups that fail because they were given too much resources. A person can be straight and fair but need not be blunt and intrusive. He can be thirty and not be stingy. Too much light only blind the eyes. So, we must know how to keep the balance and give the right amount to the right people at the right stage of their growth.

Lim Liat (c) 9 Nov 2016
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