Wisdom is an important aspect of living because we need it not so much to make a success of living as to live well. In order to live well, understanding the ancient Tao wisdom plays a pivotal role, especially in its application in contemporary living. Understanding the ancient Tao wisdom is to live well.
What is Tao wisdom? It seems its too profound for human understanding. As a matter of fact, over the centuries, many people have found it intriquing and controversial, to say the least.
The ancient Tao wisdom is expressed in the book Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese classic. "Tao" means "The Way" to understanding the human wisdom in living; "Te" means "virtuosity" and "Ching" means "classic." The book, written by Lao Tzu (meaning "old master"), contains 81 short chapters (only 5,000 Chinese characters), expressing succinctly the wisdom of the great Chinese philosopher. According to the legend, Lao Tzu, who was born with gray hair (a sign of wisdom related with age and experience), was stopped at the city gate when he was riding backwards on an ox; he was just about to leave the ancient capital of
for another country. Lao
Tzu was "forced" to record the essence of his teachings; at first, he
was reluctant to put anything in writing because he believed that true human
wisdom was ineffable and inexpressible, and anything that could be expressed in
words would be self-limiting. China
Tao Te Ching, written around the 6th century B.C., has become one of the most translated works in world literature because it is regarded by many scholars as one of the wisest books in the world.
Why is it difficult to understand Tao wisdom?
Tao wisdom in simple but profound; it is paradoxical but illuminating. It is all-embracing in that it is applicable to every aspect of life and living. Tao wisdom is universal and timeless wisdom. To fully understand and internalize Tao wisdom in living, you must, first and foremost, have an open mind or an empty mind that would be receptive to unconventional thinking. In fact, you must not only think out of the box but, more importantly, to create your own box of thinking. Your mind must not have any preconditioned ideas about anything. That is to say, you must have an empty mind for reverse thinking before you can intuit the true wisdom of Tao.
"Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Every desiring, one sees only the manifestations.
And the mystery itself is the doorway to all understanding."
(Lao Tzu, "Tao Te Ching," Chapter One)
To fully understand the wisdom of Tao, with an empty mind ready for reverse thinking, you must be "ever desireless" because your desires, once conceived, will "dictate" how you "would" like to live, rather than "knowing" the true wisdom of how you "should" live your life. In other words, if you have set your goals in life, you are in fact shaping your own life according to your goals; however, this may not be the true life that God has intended for you. Therefore, "ever desiring" will let you see only the manifestations of your life, not the "mystery" which holds the key to unlocking your understanding of true wisdom. In real life, if you are too preoccupied with what you want, you will miss the essence of life and the true meaning of living.
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Copyright© by Stephen Lau