04 October 2016

Conquering the World vs Self-Control - DaoDeJing 29

Many people started out trying to conquer the external world but the very first world that we need to conquer is ourselves. Self-control is should be the first virtue without which all success, power and wealth are but greed and destructive to self and others. "How to have sustainable success without regrets" is the teaching of Lao Zi's Dao De Jing 29.
The Original Text of Chapter 29 

将欲取天下而为之,吾见其不得已。
Wanting to conquer the world and do whatever we like with it.
I see that is not only impossible but also very harmful to him.

天下神器,不可为也,为者败之,执者失之。
The instrument to run the world is not what people can or should possess.
The ones that try to will fail. The ones that insist on running it his way will loose it.

故物或行或随;或歔或吹;或强或羸;或挫或隳。
So you see the things in the world. Some leads and some follow.
Sometimes we blow to warm ourselves. Sometimes we blow to cool ourselves.
Even when we are strong and rich with resources, 
there could be failures and destructions.

是以圣人去甚,去奢,去泰。Hence, the wise men get rid of excessiveness, remove extravagance, and exalted themselves not.

Winning without Harms to Oneself
If we start out in life, as the above text tells us, to conquer the external world, without doing the self-control and development of the last verse, then the outcomes are obvious ... failures, losses and harms to ourselves and even our family and friends. We have often heard the saying, "Don't use your health to gain your wealth when young only to use your wealth to try to gain back your health when sick and old."

The Right Way to Do it
The right way to success begins with the last verse of self-development and control. Never go to the extremes. Always maintain a balance - keeping the demands of multiple forces, such as self, health, wealth, family, friends etc in right tension. Don't go for luxurious things and luxurious living. Be moderate and comfortable in our lifestyles. Never be boastful and proud. Never look down on others. Be like what Steve Jobs recommends, "Stay foolish and stay hungry".

Watch the seasonal trends, the location and the needs of the people, and adapt to them. Going against our body clocks and external trends only bring sickness and troubles to us. Be principles centered but be flexible in the methods and with the people to accomplish the missions. Many misunderstanding and quarrels come from people who have different thinking about what is good for the company. Real success begins with self. If you start with self-control first, your success will be lasting and benefiting to many people. The teaching of Lao Zi is about "内圣外王“, "A Saint on the inside and a Rule on the outside". Rule out from a good self within is the right order to have sustainable success without regrets.

Lim Liat (c) 4 Oct 2016

See also Inside vs Outside - Is Batman right?
For more of Lao Zi's wisdom, see Lao Zi and the Dao School
For even more, see Ancient Chinese Wisdom

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