Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Takeaways from the Daodejing - One of China's Most Influential Ancient Philosophy Classics

Taoism is one of the most influential Chinese schools of philosophy and religion. It was initially founded as a school of philosophical thinking by Lao Tzu, a philosopher from ancient China's Spring and Autumn period who was later worshiped as a deity in the later-developed religious Taoism. The classic foundational text of philosophical and religious Taoism is the Daodejing, traditionally credited to Lao Tzu. 

One of the critical ideas that Daodejing preaches is a duality of two binaries embodied in all objects of existence: Things that are tough and rigid (like metal) are often brittle and weak. On the other hand, things that are soft and flexible (like water) are usually strong. Moreover, something that shows off excessively and flamboyantly (like fire) is often hollow. But something that appears humble and modest (like minerals hidden underground) is often content. Therefore, people should avoid possessing attributes that are along the lines of "tough," "excessive," and "aggressive" and instead embrace qualities that are "soft" and "modest." For example, we shouldn't put too much pressure on ourselves, boast about ourselves, show aggression to others, or abuse any power we have. Rather, we should communicate with others, help others, and remain humble, modest, curious, and open-minded.

Written by ICSC Member Ruowen Wang