To Be A Sage

To Be A Sage
Chapter 49
Tao Te Ching

Some of the virtues of a sage as outlined in this chapter include being open-minded, nonjudgmental, and kind. According to Yahoo sage means “Within the Taoist tradition the Sage has gained a wisdom that extends beyond mere intellectual knowledge or information and reflects a deep, intuitive understanding of life.” Everyone desires to be a stage and this is why we want to attempt to have sage qualities.

 “The sages have no constant mind
They take the mind of the people as their mind”(1)

This is telling me that the sage has no fixed mind, and you might say he has an open mind, or empty mind. The sage seeks information from others what is on their mind. The sage is accepting their opinions and make those opinions his own

Those who are good, I am good to them
Those who are not good, I am also good to them
Thus the virtue of goodness

Those who believe, I believe them
Those who do not believe, I also believe them
Thus the virtue of belief”(1)

There are couple of morsels of wisdom is this section. The first is being nonjudgmental because the sage accepts the good and the bad the same thing, he also accepts those who believe him the same as those who do not believe him. You will notice that he does not try to change them.

WANG P’ANG (3) explains, “Good and bad are the result of delusions, and delusions are the result of self-centered minds. Those who open themselves up to the Great Way, although their eyes see good and bad, their minds do not distinguish any differences. They don’t treat the bad with goodness out of pity but because they don’t perceive any difference. Although the ten thousand things are different, their differences are equally real and equally false. To see the real in the false and the false in the real is how the wisdom of sages differs from that of others.”

The sage does not judge and he is good to everyone whether they are good or bad. This is a virtue. The other virtue that is pointed out is to believe everyone regardless whether or not they believe us. There will be times when it will be difficult for us to live up to these two virtues. This chapter list only two virtues, but let’s ask ourselves is it a virtue to treat everyone the same with love and compassion.

“The sages live in the world
They cautiously merge their mind for the world
The people all pay attention with their ears and eyes
The sages care for them as children”(1

Jonathan Starr translation gives me a clearer meaning for the last stanza.

“The Sage lives in harmony with all below Heaven
He sees everything as his own self
He loves everyone as his own child
All people are drawn to him every eye and ear is turned toward him”(2)


To be like a sage we would be in harmony with our universe and everyone in it. We would also be at one with the universe and we will love everyone. When we live in harmony, love others and are at one with the universe we will find other people will want what we have threwisdom and inner peace they see in us.

(1) and Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths in 2006.

(2) TAO TE CHING By Lao Tzu Translated by Jonathan Starr

(3) WANG P’ANG / WANG PANG / (1044– 1076). Brilliant scholar, writer, and son of Wang An-shih.

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