When a country obtains great power,
it becomes like the sea:
all streams run downward into it.
The more powerful it grows,
the greater the need for humility.
Humility means trusting the Tao,
thus never needing to be defensive.
A great nation is like a great man:
When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
Having realized it, he admits it.
Having admitted it, he corrects it.
He considers those who point out his faults
as his most benevolent teachers.
He thinks of his enemy
as the shadow that he himself casts.
If a nation is centered in the Tao,
if it nourishes its own people
and doesn't meddle in the affairs of others,
it will be a light to all nations in the world.
As a frequent traveller I am well used to having my identity checked at passport control or immigration counters as one enters various countries. In these days of growing terrorist problems worldwide, our identity, and proof of it, was never more important. Also, if we are users of the Internet, as most of us are now, we also realise that identity theft is a singularly common crime, so must must protect ourselves against that as much as we possibly can.
|The beautiful Synogogue in Prague, February, 2016|
In Ireland, we are celebrating the centenary of the beginnings of our young nation in the Easter Rising/Insurrection of 1916. There have been many books, journals, magazines and commemorative pamphlets, running into hundreds at this stage, dedicated to this centenary celebrati0n - indeed, our own school has produced two such pamphlets. To state this in other terms, one could truthfully say that our young nation is engaged in the task of coming to terms with its own identity. Who are we as a young Irish nation? Where stands the vision of those men who first proclaimed the Irish Republic? Has their vision of true equality for all "the children of the nation" been actually achieved? We are, then, at present dealing with this and other questions in our commemorative ceremonies, in the many learned commentaries given, in the books written, in all the various media outlets - written, broadcast and digital - and such activity has been a rewarding exercise for us as a nation as individuals.
|Artist at work, Firenze, summer 2002|
|Lord Acton, 1834 - 1902|
Being grounded and earthed means being able to admit that one does not have all the answers; that the ego has to take its place along with the heart, empathy and compassion as just one motivating factor in our lives; that there is no one right way to live life or any one simple answer to complex problems and that truth is rarely pure and never simple (Oscar Wilde); that everyone makes mistakes and that the admission of them is truly ennobling of the humble person who is always willing to learn.
Individuals as well as nations, then, are called upon by our Taoist poet to be humble, to be earthed, to be grounded, that is to be centered in the Tao.