The Art of Living
The Tao Te Ching, (pronounced Dow Deh Jing) is a 5000 year old manuscript of verse written by the ancient sage Lao Tzu from China. It translates into ‘The Book of the Way.’ I thought I would reference some of these verses from this classic Taoist text on the art of living, for those of you who have never heard of this text or as a nice reminder, as it still holds true today. Reading it always takes me on a journey to ancient human times and reminds me of how wise we are as a people. Yet how easily we are led away from ourselves and our own inner journey into the world of illusion and material wealth. It reminds me that happiness is an inner journey, not the latest iphone or prada sunglasses.
I was in need of some balance when I chose these verses, balance is the key in the Taoist tradition, and balance is what I find here in the Tao Te Ching.
Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.
If you realise that all things change,
there is nothing you will try to hold on to.
If you aren’t afraid of dying,
there is nothing you can’t achieve.
Trying to control the future
is like trying to take the master carpenter’s place.
When you handle the master carpenter’s tools,
chances are that you’ll cut your hand.
Men are born soft and supple,
dead they are stiff and hard.
Plants are born tender and pliant;
dead, they are brittle and dry.
Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible
is a disciple of death.
Whoever is soft and yielding
is a disciple of life.
The hard and stiff will be broken.
The soft and supple will prevail.
Future is an opportunity.
If you blame someone else,
There is no end to the blame.
Therefore the Master
fulfills her own obligations
and corrects her own mistakes.
She does what she needs to do
and demands nothing of others.
Scholars are not sure who Lao Tzu actually was, he could have been an older contemporary of Confucious (551-479 BCE), and may have held the position of archive keeper in one of the petty Kingdoms of the time. Even the meaning of his name is uncertain, the most likely interpretation “The Old Master” or “The Old Boy”. All he left is his book, the classic manual on the art of living.
Reference – Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, translated by Stephen Mitchell.