Tao Te Ching Chapter 8


The highest goodness resembles water
Water greatly benefits myriad things without contention
It stays in places that people dislike
Therefore it is similar to the TaoDwelling with the right location
Feeling with great depth
Giving with great kindness
Speaking with great integrity
Governing with great administration
Handling with great capability
Moving with great timingBecause it does not contend
It is therefore beyond reproach 

Derek Lin, Translator

 The best way to life is to be like water
For water benefits all things and goes against none of them
It provides for all people and even cleanses those places a man is loath to go
In this way it is just like Tao
Live in accordance with the nature of things
Build your house on solid ground
Keep your mind still
When giving, be kind
When speaking, be truthful
When ruling, be just
When working, be one-pointed
When acting, remember, timing is everything
One who lives in accordance with nature does not go against the way of things
He moves in harmony with the present moment always knowing the truth of just what to do 

Jonathan Star, Translator

 Right mind, right place, right feeling, right speech, right rule, right work, right movement – all are already known, we know it all. Each of us knows it already. The path is not to know it, everybody knows it, it’s reflected in thousands of seeker websites, millennia of stories, poems, songs, philosophies. Remember, every word is a metaphor, every real thing is the truth.

 The path is to do it, to get in it, to be with it where you are. Now, not later, not when it’s safe or best or earned. Do it. Now. Get in it, be with it where you are. No need to quit your job or relationships or relocate or make a new plan. Bloom where you’re planted. Get in it, be with it where you are.


 Enough said. Conversely, here’s what happens when we cut ourselves off from the flow. Every word’s a metaphor…


 Stone river, water ain’t runnin’ no more

Man he done cut if off and moved it all around
There ain’t no river runnin’, no water can be found
Stone river, water ain’t runnin’ no more.

Fish ain’t swimmin’, ain’t no fish around nowhere
Fish ain’t swimmin’, ain’t nobody seem to care
They bottled up and dammed it, choked it up and jammed it, killed the life around it
And stole it like a bandit
Stone river, water ain’t runnin’ no more

What used to be a river now is just an empty site
Ain’t no vegetation, it’s just an agitation, it don’t seem right
There ain’t no trees a growin’, no animals are showin’, what used to be a stream
Now is just a dream
Stone river, water ain’t runnin’ nowhere.

What used to be a stream is now just a dream
Stone river, water ain’t runnin’ no more.

JJ Cale, Stone River


4 Responses to Tao Te Ching Chapter 8

  1. LouisW says:

    It has been quite a few years since I last saw JJ Cale in concert. He was dresssed in black; sitting at the back of the band rather than strutting in front like a rock star. He quietly played exquisite guitar lines that no one else may have ever tried. Like the Tao, he settled into the right location and acted what I thought was perfectly in accord with the nature of his music.

    “Stone River,” “Magnolia,” “Cocaine,” “Crazy Mama” – so many great songs. A very good choice for this post.

    • Louis W. says:

      “We always knew those days would forever last
      And all those friends we had would never pass
      But they did and the numbers grow small
      For a time we had it all
      Like to see you again sometime.
      I’ll try to call, my old friend.

      “May your backside catch the wind,
      May you have many more days to spend,
      I could see you again,
      My old friend.”
      -”Old Friend,” by JJ Cale (1938-2013)

      I just heard that we lost JJ Cale to a heart attack yesterday (7-26-13). Thanks for making me think of him a couple of weeks ago. I have been listening to more of his songs the past few days and they still sound really good.

      I suppose they will keep sounding good here, and that he can bring some great music to wherever comes next.

      • bobgriffith says:

        I learned he had died today. What a good quote to think of in the moment of his completion here. It touches me deeply. Thank you for that…

        My recollections of him are like yours, a humble person, an exquisite talent, and when I saw him play it was remarkable how symbiotically linked he was to the energy of his fellow players as well as their style and what they were doing in the moment. He flowed with it, always alert to what was going on, always relaxed.

        I’ve been hearing the plaintive wail and easy slide of JJ’s guitar all day long. He could bend his instrument across dimensions, and today it seems he is playing easily in them all, sliding and flowing from here to there and back again in easy grace.

  2. I agree with Louis. Cool. I loved your juxtaposition of the poem with the chapter. We know what we need to do, now do it before we choke! lol…

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