( This article is excerpt from Introducing Daoism written by Livia Kohn(2008), London: Routledg.)
The person in the Daode jing who exemplifies these attitudes and values is the sage, ideally the ruler, but any individual who follows the principles of the text. Such a person, moreover, will not remain in a vacuum but his or her good values will have a lasting impact on society, creating a sense of stability and harmony wherever he or she goes.
This impact is never on a grand scale and does not involve political parties or elections. Rather, it begins with the transformation of small communities or social units that develop a model of simple living and show the importance of applying nonaction and using resources responsibly. Eventually the process leads to the realization of “naturalness,” an overall balance in society and nature. This aspect of the Daoist teaching, moreover, connects most actively to modern ecology and has often been related to visions of environmental harmony and the protection of all species. Although nature in ancient China was seen more of a threat (with its wild animals and unpredictable weather patterns) than as being threatened, the concept of naturalness ties in closely with the overall attitude of live and let live, of harmony within oneself and with the world at large.
© Routledge 2008