The Tao: Ancient Philosophies That Show Us the “Way” Today

In the complicated world that we live in today, our life and health challenges, oftentimes, lead us on a spiritual journey to find answers. As we search for a way out of our problems, we find ourselves wanting to know the secrets of the past to show us the way forward out of crisis. Such ancient wisdom can be found in the Tao Te Ching which are the writings of Lao Tzu — written over 2,500 years ago, in Chinese. Lao Tzu’s words were translated by many scholars over the years and described as the philosophies of the Tao, or The Way. The Tao Te Ching was written as a guide to rulers to teach them how to lead with integrity and also the basis of what is known as Taoism (pronounced Daoism). The philosophies are as such: to living simply, in humility and honesty, in the natural order.

One translation is by Ursula K. Le Guin in her book, Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching. I was moved by the wisdom in a poem on page 72 entitled, “Mysteries of power”:

Who Knows

doesn’t talk.

Who talks

doesn’t know.

Closing the openings,

shutting doors,

blunting edge,

loosing bond,

dimming light,

be one with the dust of the way.

So you come to the deep sameness.

Then you can’t be controlled by love

or by rejection.

You can’t be controlled by profit

or by loss.

You can’t be controlled by praise

or by humiliation.

Then you have honor under heaven.

This poem’s ease is true to the philosophy of the Tao — simplicity. In few words, Lao Tzu’s poem holds profound ancient wisdom. The poem’s message holds the mysteries of having power — that is power over oneself in life. Lao Tzu is showing us the way.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

The wisdom is to speak less when you “know” — that wisdom or knowingness teaches us to stay silent and only share when necessary or when teaching, but running our mouth with all we know is not the way to live. People who are enlightened understand this type of silence. They are empowered in their own way and do not need to huff and puff and be heard or to prove they are better for their wisdom and enlightenment.

For those who spend more time being attention seekers and loud and talking as if they “know”, they know nothing about life and the power of staying silent because they need to be heard. They need to voice opinions loudly and aggressively from their ego because the truth is, they “know nothing” about enlightenment and how to really live from an authentic and centered place of humility. So much wasted energy and time. Energy and time being valuable to healing and a good life that can be gone just like that.

When you live quietly as one with the flow of life’s natural order, grounded in authenticity and truth of who you are, not needing to prove to anyone anything, then you are free of the burdens that control a man’s soul. You will not lose your center in life, as many do, over love and rejection. You will not be controlled by wounds from humiliation or need ongoing praise to feel worthy.

Outward success is good to have accomplished in life, but more importantly is the success of your inner life or inner self — having control of yourself where you aren’t influenced by the outside world. This is difficult to achieve because we are blinded by our pain and hurts, our rage, our sense of entitlement and unfairness, our need to control life and people (which is impossible) and by our own ego that is standing in our way to emotional freedom and inner tranquility.

What we are chasing in life, whether it be love, fame, money, praise, or caught up in old wounds and rejections, are hurting us profoundly because we do not accept the natural order of life and are not building a strong foundation that is based on our real self-worth. Our healthy development is dependent on the strength of the foundation we build for ourselves.

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