Chapter 62 of the Daodejing is very clearly a statement about government, and so is the entire Daodejing. The author/s of the Daodejing believe that the Way is accomplished through action by non-action (Or). This applies to general life as well as how a state should be ruled.
From what I understand, only doing what is necessary when it is necessary is the Way. This is because the author/s is critical of a government that tries accomplishing too much. The Daodejing states that if a government intrudes upon people’s lives with all their laws, then those people will be worn down and helpless (Watson et al.), ultimately worse off than if the government had just done nothing. The author/s is also critical of the government when it appoints rulers because they state that those who offer up the most gifts, in other words, the ones that try too hard to hold the office, are not as virtuous as someone who follows the Way (Watson et al.) These two thoughts connect by both meaning that a ruler doing too much is detrimental to the state. When appointing a ruler, the only thing that should matter is if they follow the Way of action through non-action.
Furthermore, continuing the thought that acting too much is not virtuous, when appointing a ruler, it is important to remember that “fine words can sell things” (Watson et al.). The people that talk too much are not virtuous and do not follow the way. Philosophically speaking, words are like wind, and wind can just blow by, meaning nothing. Politicians that talk too much offer empty promises around like candy. These empty promises are mostly an annoyance, however, like wind, if too much is present, disaster strikes because what politicians say, they never plan on doing. In the end, a people will never truly know who or what they appointed until those empty promises and words that sold something have faded away. This is not the Way and this not what should happen, however it does happen too often, and the Daodejing is very critical of it, which I agree with.
I do not necessarily know what this chapter means to me. It is most certainly food for thought because when reading the Daodejing, one comes to the realization that the Way is sometimes anarchist (Or) which is something definitely frowned upon by democratic societies, as it should be. The anarchism is described by way of stating that a government should let people be and let the people govern themselves (Watson et al.). This is most definitely food for thought, at least in my opinion, because I do not necessarily agree with the Daodejing at times. I understand the author/s’ argument that action should only be done when strictly necessary, and that doing only what is necessary is best, however, necessity must be defined. This is because, from what I understand, the Way is stationary. People do not move; the Way moves people. I believe this is counter-intuitive to societal and technological progression. If the society is always in a state of Dao, then that society goes with the flow, it does not create a flow, it does not advance, it stays stationary in that one place of development. If action is not done, then no action is done, so to speak.
All in all, Daoist philosophy is most definitely interesting and I have enjoyed reading and contemplating it.
Or, Bethany. "Foundations of Chinese Thought, Part Three." Knowledge in the Ancient World, 6 Sep. 2019, Champlain College, St. Lambert, QC. Lecture.
Watson et al. "Tao te Ching Lao-Tzu." Shambhalla Productions Inc, illustrated by Stephen Addiss,1993.