The Art of Leading “Tao Te Ching” verse 17 for Artists

by | Oct 10, 2014 | 0 comments

Image of sumi-e painting of cat walking to illustrate blog article The Art of Leading "Tao Te Ching" verse 17 for Artists

Verse 17

The highest rulers, people do not know they have them
The next level, people love them and praise them
The next level, people fear them
The next level, people despise them
If the rulers’ trust is insufficient
Have no trust in them
Proceeding calmly, valuing their words
Task accomplished, matter settled
The people all say, “We did it naturally”
This verse is Lao Tzu’s advice on leadership. There are leaders in every level of life, starting from the government to single household, even within oneself. These are principals/virtues that I try to be aware of as a mother, a sumi-e teacher or as any other human being who shares thoughts with others.
Also, what are the Artists, if not leaders? The artwork is the means of leading the viewer towards a message, idea or an experience. The skills remain the same; that is to be able to reach and direct the viewer(s).
The “highest” Artist is satisfied with the artwork created, without expecting praise and recognition. This means leaving the ego behind. In verse 7, “To create Selflessly” Lao Tzu shows the virtue of it.
By keeping oneself out of the picture, by not using attention getting devices (be it in excessive gesture in the artwork or self promoting techniques), the artist shows his/her trust in the artwork and the viewer. This is how the viewer will trust the artist’s genuine intentions.
Is this too much to expect from the modern Artist who wants to communicate through artwork and wants to be seen? Is this possible in the media/Internet promotion driven society?….
 * I am using  Translation by Derek Lin as examples of verses, but there are many different translations with different nuances and sensibilities of the translators.  


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