Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wen Tzu - Verse 94, Part VII

from Verse Ninety-Four
Farmers toil, rulers live off it. Fools speak, the wise choose. When you see things clearly, you can put them in the appropriate places, as you would jewels and stone. When you see things dimly, you must keep a plan.
~ Wen-tzu: Understanding the Mysteries ~
In western society, planning is viewed as a noble attribute. If we want to accomplish an objective, we're told to develop and implement a plan. Conversely, when someone fails in an endeavor, it's often said that the failure is due to inadequate planning. Consequently, this passage seems a bit perverse by suggesting that the process of developing a plan itself illustrates a failure of sorts.

For Lao Tzu, the problem with plans is that they involve expectations. We plot out lines to take us to a certain outcome. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for that outcome not to flow with the circumstances and situation.

The person who fully embraces the Way does not need a plan because the individual reacts to life as it comes. Without preconceived notions and expectations, the Tao person is fully creative. Without expectations, there can be no roadblocks or hurdles to overcome.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.


  1. Just yesterday, I heard something that amused me:
    "If you want to make God laugh, then tell him your plans."

  2. It is very contrary to what most of us learns to adopt - which is probably why I appriciate its sentiments. I like how it comes forward as suggesting a total opposite to planning every little detail of life.


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