The best athlete wants his opponent at his best.
The best general enters the mind of his enemy.
The best businessman serves the communal good.
The best leader follows the will of the people.

All of them embody the virtue of non-competition.
Not that they don't love to compete,
but they do it in the spirit of play.
In this they are like children and in harmony with the Tao.



Laura Novak
11/03/2012 10:59

May the man who I believe to be the best win on Tuesday.

11/03/2012 15:14

May the man you believe to be the best be the man I believe to be the best and be the one to win on Tuesday. :-)

11/03/2012 15:20

These are interesting thoughts. I especially liked the one that states: "The best athlete wants his opponent at his best." How many athletes nowadays would "do the happy dance" if they found out that their opponent has a problem that will not allow them to perform at 100%? In these modern times wining seems to be everything. How you win has been demoted to a non-issue, and that is sad.

Laura Novak
11/03/2012 15:42

I agree. What challenge is there if the opponent is NOT at their best? It's a noble goal and desire.

And yes, V-A - let's hope "our man" is the same man... and the same man who wins. Something tells me it is!

11/04/2012 15:39

I cannot vote- being a Canadian- but I know that "your man" is the same man I believe is going to win! That little Tao verse only fits one man.

11/04/2012 20:12

After too much pinot noir at dinner, my husband and I argued about who had supported who in the Obama household prior to the presidency. I admit I did not know our president had been a college lecturer in constitutional law until my husband told me. (which is the point of marriage, to combine one's knowledge with that other person you sleep with and constantly have to admit you're wrong until you both check wikipedia.) Anyway, reading Barack Obama's bio on Wikipedia astounds me. Michelle's astounds me as well. These two most accomplished human beings are what the US of A does best. From modest backgrounds, through education, these two people have risen to the highest leadership positions in our land and almost exactly match the criteria of the Tao Laura posted. I pray for their success, and ours, on Tuesday.

Laura Novak
11/05/2012 09:25

I know, V-A. They carry themselves with quiet dignity. Against many odds and horrific slights. Granny J, perhaps just tossing some vibes into the air will give us all what we need. I myself always get goosebumps when I vote in the general election. I look forward to it tomorrow. May the Tao be with him.

11/06/2012 18:04

John Heider's free-form interpretation of this classical work of philosophy is titled The Tao of Leadership. He renders verse 68 as follows:

The greatest martial arts are the gentlest. They allow an attacker the opportunity to fall down.

The greatest generals do not rush into every battle. They offer the enemy many opportunities to make self-defeating errors.

The greatest administrators do not achieve production through constraints and limitations. They provide opportunities.

Good leadership consists of motivating people to their highest levels by offering them opportunities, not obligations.

That is how things happen naturally. Life is an opportunity and not an obligation.

Relevant here is the previous segment of the Tao Te Ching - Heider's interpretation reads:

Here is a paradox: even though the single principle of how everything happens is great, those who follow the principle know that they are ordinary.

Great egocentricity does not make a person great. The common ground of all creation is a greater source of life than any exalted isolation.

These three qualities are invaluable to the leader:
- Compassion for all creatures
- Material simplicity or frugality
- A sense of equality or modesty

A compassionate person acts in behalf off everyone's right to life.

Material simplicity gives on an abundance to share. A sense of equality is, paradoxically, one's true greatness.

It is a mistake to consider a person whose only interest is self-interest as being either caring or courageous. It is a mistake to rationalize that excessive consumption contributes to the well-being of others by giving them employment. It is a mistake to imagine that a person who acts immodestly or in a superior way is in fact, a genuinely superior person.

These are all egocentric behaviours. They isolate a person from the common ground of existence. They produce rigidity and death.
Compassion, sharing, and equality, on the one hand, sustain life.

This is because we are all one. When I care for you, I enhance the harmonious energy of the whole. And that is life.

11/07/2012 06:46

MC, it sounds like the Heider version was written with Pres Obama and Romney in mind.

11/07/2012 09:21

working hard to contain my amazement: Tammies, Claire, Elizabeth, Alan Grayson. First democratic mayor in San Diego in 40 years if mail-in ballots continue trend. Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative. Women and Latino voting surge. Gay Marriage initiatives And of course, Obama. My dear husband said last night. "It's the death of the White Man." Maybe just the reeducation of him?

Laura Novak
11/07/2012 09:24

Ah V-A, great minds think alike. I just now posted my morning after essay. Any way you can paste your comment into that new thread? If not, let's keep talking. The victories are chilling aren't they? And fantastic. And yes, for those of us here, Prop 30!

Mistah Charley, thank you for this fabulous translation. I agree with Ottoline whole heartedly: written for this election. Was he prescient or what!

02/21/2013 06:52

Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I'd like to write like this too - taking time and real effort to make a good article... but what can I say... I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.

04/25/2013 05:05

The new generation is behind the unwanted things. The thoughts that you given above are very much relevant in this era. These thoughts are very meaningful and easy to convey. Thank you for sharing it with us through your blog.

06/03/2013 01:27

These are interesting thoughts. I especially liked the one that states "The best leader follows the will of the people." How many leaders would have followed the will of the people? How many would have act according to the likes of people. A very few. In modern times, democracy is degrading.

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