Of the many chapters and verses of the Tao Te Ching, one that really influenced me was on knowledge. The translation by J. Legge puts it as: Of the many chapters and verses of the Tao Te Ching, one that really influenced me was on knowledge. The translation by J. Legge puts it as: He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent. He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty. He who is satisfied with his lot is rich; he who goes on acting with energy has a (firm) will. He, who does not fail in the requirements of his position, continues long; he, who dies and yet does not perish, has longevity (Lao Tzu, 33). As a student, I find it particularly significant as it provides an alternative perspective on learning and education. Lao Tzu puts forth knowledge of humanity and self-knowledge as primary subjects to focus our learning on. This is still relevant as although we study subjects like Biology, Social Sciences, and Literature which may appear very different, at one level they are all attempts to understand the world around us and ourselves better. This passage also speaks of discipline and power. However, Lao Tzu seems to advocate control of oneself over control of others. This injunction to control our senses is present in ancient Hindu philosophy as well, especially in the epic Bhagavad Gita. The Bible also speaks of controlling the self in its gospels. For instance, in Peter 2:19, we are told, ‘For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved.’ This idea of discipline is often ignored in our daily lives but as Lao Tzu asserts learning to control oneself and one’s own impulses is actually a mark of great strength. Since we cannot control the world and what it does to us, it is only sensible that we learn to control our own behavior instead. This way we are not left frustrated and feeling helpless in difficult situations that come our way. Lao Tzu also brings out the importance of looking at one thing from more than one perspective.
Work CitedLao Tzu. Tao Te Ching. Trans. J. Legge. Sacred Books of the East Vol. 39. 1891. Web. 30 Nov. 2011.
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