History has left us a list of innumerable characters who have studied life so precisely, that they have managed to define it and generate their own concepts about it. Lao Tzu is the most important figure of wisdom in the East. He dedicated himself to proclaiming his word, helping many of us to find peace in a life full of turbulence.
1) “Silence is a source of great strength.”
It was Lao-Tzu who laid the foundations of the Taoist philosophy in the book: Tao Te King. All the Chinese culture following Taoism has been governed by these scriptures, which manifests a lifestyle based on nature, simplicity and non-violence. All this with the purpose of achieving a simple and happy life. This philosophy has been in force since his death and is considered a necessary guide for life.
Lao Tzu is an honorary title composed of two synograms, the first of which means “old man” or “the oldest”, and the second, a title given to highly respected scholars.
There are those who contradict the principles of the Tao, but undoubtedly even one of these phrases will touch the deepest part of your mind and heart, allowing you to see the bigger and clearer picture.
This is not about the history of Lao, but rather an account of its teaching and philosophy of life. Take it as a guide that you can check from time to time when you come face to face with doubt.
2) “When I cease to be what I am, I become what I could be.”
We can take this phrase from two points of view according to the philosophy of Lao. First let’s talk about the mental structure with which we are born and under which we are raised. A simple example of this can be: go to school, grow up, then you will have to go to college, then get married and then have children. Many of us live so attached to beliefs and focus so much on them, that when the end comes, we realize that we never really asked ourselves what we really wanted to do with our lives.
On the other hand, it evokes the recognition of the ego we have maintained throughout our lives, this being the main opponent in the battle to become better beings. We are afraid to stop acting in some way because we think everything would be derailed, but the truth is that we have always longed to be a little or very different from who we are, and the only way to achieve this is by changing and going through the instability. In relation to this ideal of mutation, Lao Tzu also said:
3) “If you don’t change the address, you can end up where you started.”
4) “He who knows people is reasonable. He who knows himself is enlightened.”
To know ourselves as well as to have the power to dominate ourselves is the most difficult part, and therefore the most valuable. Knowing ourselves ranges from knowing how we will act according to the different situations of life,to being sure what we want to achieve, what moves us and what our motive is. Having clarity of all these principles will save us 80% of all the indecision of our life. How many times have you not been plunged into a sea of pain because of indecision?
The philosophy is reinforced by the following Lao maxim:
5) “He who dominates others is strong; he who dominates himself is powerful.”
6) “Stop thinking and get rid of your problems.”
Constantly thinking about situations that mean worry and anguish will only make us end up more worn out. Your mother probably told you at some point in your life that if you kept worrying or thinking about what made you feel nervous, you would end up taking the worst actions; and something was never so true. I was able to witness it myself. However, it is not an easy principle to abide by. Controlling the mind is possibly one of the most difficult tasks to learn, but continuous effort will take you to unimaginable areas.
7) “Respect brings well-being. Wellness contributes to the creative process.”
It is almost automatic to think in the areas of labor development. When we have the idea that the differences of others disturb our positive development, it turns out that the opposite happens. Accepting the opposites, and the duality of the real world, will in a certain way help us to remain calm, according to the theory of Taoism.
8) “What gives a cup of clay its value is the empty space between its walls.”
This phrase is very popular, but not everyone can deduce its true meaning, even you could have a completely different interpretation. However, what allows us to deduce that principle is its relationship to another Lao Tzu saying, which says:
9) “Thirty spokes converge towards the center of a wheel, but the void in the middle makes the chariot go.”
Both refer to the fact that the true value of things does not lie in their being, but in the role they play in life. We spend our lives focusing our interest on being, rather than doing.
One of the greatest differences that the Tao faces with respect to the beliefs of the West is based on desire. Unlike those who proclaim the ideal of fighting for your dreams and ambitions, Orientals relate desire for others to frustration and suffering.
Lao’s philosophy is based on the well-being obtained for the human being who knows how to renounce to what he has instead of going in search of everything he wants.
Lao-Tse makes this reflection on the matter:
10) “He who does not want is not frustrated. And those who are not frustrated do not become degraded. Thus, the true sage waits in stillness, while everything happens and desires do not command. Thus peace and harmony take place and the world follows its natural course.”
The virtue of the Taoists is simplicity and patience. This is related to the principle of the Wu Wei, which says “let go of what we know”. It is about controlling the senses that are the door of desire, and educating them, looking in rather than out. According to the Tao, this is the best way to avoid greed and achieve emotional and material detachment.
11) “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them, it just creates sadness. Let reality become reality. Let things flow naturally the way they want.”
12) “Don’t provoke the fight, accept it; it’s better to go back one meter than to go one centimeter.”
Lao says in relation to battles, that it is much better to accept them and take a step back, rather than going out to look for it. Going in search of battles, according to this philosophy, will fill us with suffering and resentment, but if we know how to go through them with patience, trusting in ourselves and in the result, we will be relieving our mind and body.
13) “When a common man undertakes something, he spoils it, because he is in a hurry to finish it.”
This phrase of Lao hides a monster that invades us and eats most of our days,and it is about anxiety. As if it were a count down clock,we run on the march to advance time to surprise life before it surpasses us.
The real surprise is that trying to anticipate time is actually a waste of time. The greatest merit that allows us to begin a new path is the journey we go through and everything we learn in it with patience and acceptance.
As we become adults and get to know each other better, somehow we also begin to understand society better. Lao in the Tao, does not talk about looking at ourselves as the true receiver of each of our acts, whether noble or cruel.
14) “When you realize that what you do to another, you do to yourself, you will have understood a great truth.”
By mistreating, no matter how cruel a person may be, you will always feel that you are ruining yourself, that you are betraying yourself. When we say hurtful words, we end up feeling empty.
When, in order to defend ourselves, we try to hide the truth, trying to sustain the lie, it will grow so much that sooner or later it will end up overcoming us. Have you regretted telling a lie?
If I do harm, I’ll be afraid I’ll get hurt, so what’s the point?
As human beings we are intimately connected with the rest of human beings, sometimes in such a way that you don’t notice it until the precise moment arrives. It is time itself that is in charge of teaching us that it is worth much more to be slaves of good.
15) “If you’re not afraid to die, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”
It is not only about death; if we know how to appreciate it well, death can also be associated with the fear of loss or suffering. Lao’s message is to have the courage to face life, sadness or disappointment, with the certainty that it is part of life and that without evil we would not know how to recognize happy moments. Each one complements the other. When we are children is when we are bravest and most innocent, we learn to walk, to run and to live because we are not aware of death. Living without thinking about death is the only way to give it all.
There is another Lao phrase linked to life and the fear of death:
16) “That which for the caterpillar is called end, for the rest of the world is called butterfly.”
17) “Living, he lives near the earth. When thinking, keep it simple. In conflict, be just and generous. When governing, don’t try to control. When you work, do what you like. In family life, to be fully present.”
Lao alludes to almost all his thoughts. It tells us to live with our feet on the ground and to think simply. Sometimes the most complicated matters are resolved in the simplest way;but we live constantly so obfuscated that we cannot perceive it.
It speaks of being fair to opponents and move away from the only thought of winning, because trying to win arguments or conflicts at the cost of everything, only ends up intoxicating us, for that reason it is worth much more to be honest and understanding, this will lead us to true victory. In relation to work, he talks about dedicating time to what really fills us and catches us. Have you discovered it?
This phrase from Lao speaks to us of 3 very important topics throughout our lives: inequalities, work and family, it teaches us that the three, however complicated they may become, can be balanced through the simplest ways.
18) “Time is something created. Saying, ‘I don’t have time’, is like saying, ‘I don’t want to’.”
How many times it occurred to us that the time we invest, we create it ourselves and the universe is not a design. Yes, I know that sometimes life itself leads to situations in which we lose a little control. But the reality is that in most of them we have control of our time and we decide to take it for granted, consciously or unconsciously.
Let’s do a little exercise: Remember the last three times you used that phrase and HONESTLY analyze in which of them you made the decision not to do something… You will be surprised to see that in at least one of them, even the one that looks like the most difficult, you had your decision about your time.
19) “Do not look only at yourself and you will see much”. Don’t justify yourself and you’ll be distinguished. Don’t brag and you’ll get credit. Don’t be proud and your work will endure.”
Lao’s ideals guide the development of a humble personality free from ego centrism. His thought is contrary to arrogance, it is aimed at keeping us honest with ourselves and not falling into the self praises that end up sinking us. Be real, be noble and modest, and that which you dream so much will come to you.
20) “To lead people, walk behind them.”
No one becomes a leader by wanting, a true leader often does not know what he is. A born leader understands people, suffers what they suffer and goes after them. Only then can they walk beside them and learn to lead them. The imposition is negative, only brings contempt to those who practice it.
21) “The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our consciousness.”
The full growth that we go through throughout our development does not live in most of the banalities that we usually think make us bigger. No material, and neither our work position manifests as a real growth, because even if we have everything we want, we feel that something is missing, that there is something else. This is because the fullness resides in dimensions of consciousness higher than the common. Most people do not dare to do this introspection, but those who practice it manifest prosperity and pure love. Meditation is one of the most popular ways to raise our consciousness.
Lao Tzu’s philosophy is based on four principles applicable to learning to live. They’re next:
Accept life in all its forms:
22) “He who spends his life complaining about everything will have a very difficult life.”
Be honest with yourself and others:
23) “He who gains a victory over another man is strong, but he who gains a victory over himself is strong.”
24) “Treat with kindness those who are good, and also treat with kindness those who are not good.”
25) “The wise man does not take care of his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own.”
As we grow, some aspects of life seem to become clearer, while others become more complicated. However, we are not alone and sometimes the best support can be just words. Reserve these 4 principles of life as an amulet, and you will see that little by little everything begins to make sense. Also, treasure these phrases as reminders and life lessons, when you least expect one of them, it becomes the answer you need.
Before this reading, did you already know Lao Tzu’s philosophy? do you agree with it?
Originally Post “Lao Tse: 25 frases para entender la vida″
Translated by Oscar Moreno