The Tao Te Ching is one of the most popular – and historically useful – of sacred texts. Tradition attributes authorship to Lao-Tse, a philosopher from the fifth century BCE, but many scholars today concur that it’s a compilation of the collective moral and religious teachings that dominated its era.

The Tao, as it’s also known, has survived into our own time and become a highly influential text. This is, in part, for its style, which oscillates between abstraction and practicality. But it’s also for the simplicity of its teachings even given the ambitious nature of the promises it makes. The Tao speaks of emptiness or divine power, but the teachings are generally directed toward a simple goal: the tranquil life, at peace, and wise.

It’s thus possible to condense the lessons of the Tao into a handful of pointers. Are they an over-simplification? In Western thought, with its predominantly dual view of existence, life is needlessly difficult when it could be this simple. Our existential compass could follow these few cardinal points which have been insisted upon by so many great masters: love, compassion, respect for all beings, integrity. If we think clearly, deep down we know how to live, but strangely we don’t put these points into practice. Why not?

These four lessons were inspired by the Tao Te Ching. If you think there might be others important to rounding out these teachings, please don’t hesitate to mention them on the Facebook page.

 

  1. Love life, in all its forms

This first rule goes to the respect owed to all life. Living is an opportunity that intensifies when we realize that we’re among the privileged few who can do it with consciousness. The poet Mark Strand went so far as to say that “we are — as far as we know — the only part of the universe that’s self-conscious. We could even be the universe’s form of consciousness.” It seems to be enough to revere life, to honor it, to take in as much of it as possible and to be thankful for every moment.

 

  1. Be sincere, with yourself and with others.

Say what you think and then do what you say. Then, you’ll be fully on your own path. Impeccability and congruence make life quiet and complete.

 

  1. Be compassionate

Gentleness and kindness are also necessary, insofar as existence always happens alongside the existence of others. Realizing that everyone is fighting his or her own battles, that everyone suffers in his or her own way, and that everyone is good at something different, while other things are difficult for the same people, then you also recognize that no one is more important than anyone else. No one is superior. In a way, we’re all alike, even though it’s always everyone on his or her own terms. And what seems complicated gets resolved, practically, in this simple idea: compassion as a way of life.

 

  1. Help

The development of humanity, in all its spheres and from any perspective, can’t be explained without explaining the network of bonds we’ve woven between us. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors: everyone needs us and, in turn, we need everyone. Helping implies recognizing that we’re incapable of doing everything. But it’s also a great spiritual exercise. Helping gives rise to the other in our lives and makes us listen to it, to recognize the other in its difficulty, and it opens us to the possibility of lending a hand. It works the same if we’re the ones recognizing that it’s us who need help.

 

*Image: Unsplash – Pexels / Creative Commons

The Tao Te Ching is one of the most popular – and historically useful – of sacred texts. Tradition attributes authorship to Lao-Tse, a philosopher from the fifth century BCE, but many scholars today concur that it’s a compilation of the collective moral and religious teachings that dominated its era.

The Tao, as it’s also known, has survived into our own time and become a highly influential text. This is, in part, for its style, which oscillates between abstraction and practicality. But it’s also for the simplicity of its teachings even given the ambitious nature of the promises it makes. The Tao speaks of emptiness or divine power, but the teachings are generally directed toward a simple goal: the tranquil life, at peace, and wise.

It’s thus possible to condense the lessons of the Tao into a handful of pointers. Are they an over-simplification? In Western thought, with its predominantly dual view of existence, life is needlessly difficult when it could be this simple. Our existential compass could follow these few cardinal points which have been insisted upon by so many great masters: love, compassion, respect for all beings, integrity. If we think clearly, deep down we know how to live, but strangely we don’t put these points into practice. Why not?

These four lessons were inspired by the Tao Te Ching. If you think there might be others important to rounding out these teachings, please don’t hesitate to mention them on the Facebook page.

 

  1. Love life, in all its forms

This first rule goes to the respect owed to all life. Living is an opportunity that intensifies when we realize that we’re among the privileged few who can do it with consciousness. The poet Mark Strand went so far as to say that “we are — as far as we know — the only part of the universe that’s self-conscious. We could even be the universe’s form of consciousness.” It seems to be enough to revere life, to honor it, to take in as much of it as possible and to be thankful for every moment.

 

  1. Be sincere, with yourself and with others.

Say what you think and then do what you say. Then, you’ll be fully on your own path. Impeccability and congruence make life quiet and complete.

 

  1. Be compassionate

Gentleness and kindness are also necessary, insofar as existence always happens alongside the existence of others. Realizing that everyone is fighting his or her own battles, that everyone suffers in his or her own way, and that everyone is good at something different, while other things are difficult for the same people, then you also recognize that no one is more important than anyone else. No one is superior. In a way, we’re all alike, even though it’s always everyone on his or her own terms. And what seems complicated gets resolved, practically, in this simple idea: compassion as a way of life.

 

  1. Help

The development of humanity, in all its spheres and from any perspective, can’t be explained without explaining the network of bonds we’ve woven between us. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors: everyone needs us and, in turn, we need everyone. Helping implies recognizing that we’re incapable of doing everything. But it’s also a great spiritual exercise. Helping gives rise to the other in our lives and makes us listen to it, to recognize the other in its difficulty, and it opens us to the possibility of lending a hand. It works the same if we’re the ones recognizing that it’s us who need help.

 

*Image: Unsplash – Pexels / Creative Commons

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