Ancient Chinese Philosophy is often separated into three categories; Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. It is often said that these methods of thought are complementary and can be used to see life from different angles and can be used in different circumstances in life. In Chinese culture there is a saying that says ‘every Chinese man wears a Confucian cap, a Taoist robe, and Buddhist sandals’.
The Tao Teh Ching is a collection of insights about life and nature written by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. It is argued which came first, the writings of Confucius or the writings of Lao Tzu. Regardless of when they were written these timeless and often poetic words with shift your perspective and help bring peace into your life.
Slow down while reading these ancient insights and see if you can find meaning for them in your present situation.
- ‘Restlessness overcomes cold, but calm overcomes heat’.(45) –Perhaps it is through a good balance of all things that we maintain an enjoyable life. It is also interesting in this one how the solution is contained in its opposite. In order to get things going in life you need a little restlessness. Conversely in order to stop anger we need to slow down and find a calm space.
- ‘If a man wants to be brave without first being merciful, generous without first being frugal, a leader without first wishing to follow, he is only courting death!’. (67) –If your dream is to be the hero of your story you have to first master the balanced forms of each of your desires.
If you want to be able to give and help others, then you must first master being frugal and saving what you do have. If you wish to be a leader then you must learn why someone would wish to follow another.
- ‘…for all things there is a time for going ahead, and a time for following behind; A time for slow-breathing and a time for fast-breathing; A time to grow in strength and a time to decay; A time to be up and a time to be down. Therefore, the Sage avoids all extremes, excesses and extravagances.’ (29)
When you start to see that everything is connected you begin to realize that you are both the winner and the looser in every race. We are all connected and the universe is always striving to maintain balance. If you experience a low you will need to experience a high in order to balance it out. If you seek after extremes you will experience the balance to them in one way or another in your life.
So if you are tired of experiencing pain and suffering then look at the parts of your life that are in excess and return to a state of balance.
- ‘The Sage has no interests of his own, But takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; He is also kind to the unkind: For Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; He is also faithful to the unfaithful: For Virtue is faithful.’ (49)
It is common to feel the need for revenge and justice when you have been wronged. In the higher levels of awareness to recognize the other person’s struggles and pains and you love others regardless of what they do. You treat them fairly and always are good in your interactions because that is who you are.
You do not need to mirror others to teach them a lesson. Instead show them how it could be different if love and understanding was involved.
Which of the wisdoms did you resonate with? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and thank you for reading.
Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching, 1961, Translated by John C. H. Wu
Note- Each passage quoted is sited with the correct passage number in the Tao Teh Ching.