Lao Tzu is wary of change, of interfering with the present state of things. He saw the world as one of precious balance, where action if not carefully considered might lead easily to a cascade of unwanted effects, before balance is again restored. So he promotes non-action … wu-wei. Suggesting to do as little as possible, and only when absolutely called for; as minimum interference ensures maximum stability.
Putting a value on status will cause people to compare
Hoarding treasure will turn them into thieves
Showing off possessions will disturb their daily lives
Thus the Sage rules
By stilling minds and opening hearts
By filling bellies and strengthening bones
He shows people how to be simple and live without desires
To be content and not look for other ways
With the people so pure who could trick them?
What clever ideas could lead them astray?
When action is pure and selfless everything settles into its own perfect place.
As a population we obsess with the need to change… calling it progress and believing it to be for the better, convinced that letting go of the past will bring an increasingly better future. We do not know if the changes are improvements, much less what they will lead to.
The Sages policy should aim at stilling the appetite and ambition of the people, including his own, so that the virtue of Tao can show in all. By example the Sage should lead the way, setting him in complete control as The Way controls him.
Changes proposed at the time were by the mystic MoDi arguing to promote the most suitable people to office. An argument opposed by the statesman Shang Yang, who argued that promoting the best people to office would distract them from their industries were they were most needed.
Mo Di, was a Chinese mystic/philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought period. He founded the school of Mohism that argued strongly against Confucianism and Daoism. (470 BC – 390 BC Tengzhou, Shandong Province, China)
Shang Yang was an important Chinese statesman of the State of Qin during the Warring States period. Through his policies and the The Book of Lord Shang, he and his followers contributed to the political-philosophical movement that would later be termed Chinese Legalism, building the foundation that enabled Qin to conquer all of China, uniting the country for the first time and ushering in the Qin dynasty. Shang’s policies weakened the power of the feudal lords.
He introducing policies that weakened the power of the feudal lords, and is credited with the creation of two theories: “fixing the standards” (定法); and “treating the people as one” (一民)