Tao-te ching Comments

Parable of the Small Fish (continued)


Let the kingdom be governed according to the Tao, and the manes of the departed will not manifest their spiritual energy. It is not that those manes have not that spiritual energy, but it will not be employed to hurt men. It is not that it could not hurt men, but neither does the ruling sage hurt them.

When these two do not injuriously affect each other, their good
influences converge in the virtue (of the Tao).


The first verse received many explanations. The true meaning is: a great kingdom can be governed as easy as you cook a little fish when you follow the Tao. (Please read my previous commentary on this verse here.)

The second and third verses talk about the power of the departed and the one of the sage ruler. They mingle their influences and this seemingly leads to good.

But another translation, a little different, made of manas the evil energies, without any connection to the departed.* These energies don't injure the living as neither does the wise's. This is because these energies (the evil and the wise's) complement each other, in other words they act like yin-yang or other such couples of contraries. This is indeed the "spirit" of the Tao.

In our words, we can say that when the sage rules according to the Tao everything further.

In the Christian tradition we have a similar idea when Christ says: If you follow me these stones will serve you. (Gospel of Thomas, 19).

* When the empire is governed in accordance with the way,
The malign energies partially lose their power
Because, although active,
Their influence on people diminished.
(Tao Te King, Ma Kou version, translation from French).

Commentary by Jhian



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