Life Lessons from the Tao Te Ching

Life Lessons From Tao Te ChingAlmost all the religious and philosophical texts have some very insightful ideas about leadership and how to lead our lives. One such text is the Tao Te Ching.

Chapter 3 in the book reads as below (from the English translation by  Derek Lin):

Do not glorify the achievers, so the people will not squabble

Do not treasure goods that are hard to obtain, so the people will not become thieves

Do not show the desired things, so their hearts will not be confused!

Thus the governance of the sage:

Empties their hearts, Fills their bellies

Weakens their ambitions, Stengthens their bones

Let the people have no cunning and no greed

So those who scheme will not dare to meddle

Act without contrivance, And nothing will be beyond control!

This is the first chapter in which Lao Tsu gives us some practical advice on how to lead our lives.

This chapter signifies the dual nature of stuff that arises from the way we define something and the resulting actions and behaviors.

By defining something as valuable, you give rise to people who want to acquire more of that.

By giving special treatment to someone, you give rise to an ambition among others to become more like that special someone.

These are neither good nor bad, but we need to understand the effect of our behavior has on others around us. He also goes on to say that the wise men (or sages or leaders) try to empty their hearts of desiress or ambitions, but at the same time ensure that their needs are met – physiological, physical and intellectual. As long as leaders act in a way that is not necessarily for their personal benefit but for the larger good of the community, there is nothing that is beyond their control.

This brings forth a very interesting question –

Is passion good or bad?

Some of the old scriptures necessarily recommend that wise men avoid passions whereas modern literature praise people who go after their passions (some go on to create amazing stuff and succeed whereas others not so much). What do you think?





2 Replies to “Life Lessons from the Tao Te Ching”

  1. Based on my understanding of Indian Philosophy… it is about having “साक्षी भाव” just become an does not matter if you are passionate or not.. If you are passionate observe it…if you are not passionate just observe it.. don’t get bogged down by doing highs & lows..there is nothing called good or bad… good or bad is just mental conditioning nothing more than that…

    1. Thanks for taking time and sharing your thoughts on this post.. The example you gave today, when we met, of being passionate about work and detached with the result of the work really ring a bell with me..

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