22 November 2016

Reality is the Opposite, So Cheer-up - DaoDeJing 41

The reality is always more than what is seen in your eyes. In fact, it could be the very opposite of what you perceive. Know the three levels of characters and the working of Dao here in DaoDeJing 41.
DaoDeJing Chapter 41 Text and Translation

上士闻道,勤而行之;
When the better person hears the Dao, he diligently follow it.

中士闻道,若存若亡;
When the average person hears the Dao, he is undecided whether to follow or not.

下士闻道,大笑之,不笑不足以为道。
When the worse person hears the Dao, he laughs at it. 
If he does not laugh at it, then the Dao is not the real one.

故建言有之,明道若昧,进道若退,
Hence, the motivating words have it like this.
The one who understands Dao appears like he is still in the dark.
The improvement made in Dao appears like moving backward.

夷道若颣,上德若谷,
The flatness of Dao appears to be uneven.
The highest virtues appear to be like the valley rather than the mountain top.

大白若辱,广德若不足,
White appears to be dirty. 
The wide virtues appear to be insufficient.

建德若偷,质真若窬,
Cultivating virtues appear to be like borrowing/stealing/copying.
Genuine quality appears to be fake.

大方无隅,大器晚成,
The great square has no corners.
The great ability is shown in later years.

道隐无名,夫唯道善贷且成。
Dao is hidden and is without any name.
Only that Dao is good in giving and helping others succeed.

Three Types of Characters - Which one are you?
What is your response when you hear the truth, or the righteous values? Lao Zi shows us three types of response.
  1.  Be diligent in following the values.
  2.  Undecisive. Sometimes think it is good to follow. Sometimes think it is silly to follow.
  3.  Laugh at its uselessness.
When I was conducting a business seminar on building sustainable and successful business, some in the audience said that the values (of integrity, honesty, quality, keeping the laws etc) that I proposed in running business are good on paper but are not practical (that is a kind way of laughing at my teaching). They said that if they don't cut corners how can they compete with those that do. They subscribe to the belief that business is trickery. No trickery no profits. Such are the examples of those who laugh at Dao. However, in the longer terms, such businessmen who practice corner-cutting, who cheat, will eventually, if not quickly, get into troubles with the laws and angry customers who abandon them. Their seemingly quick success is an illusion. 

Diligently putting Dao into practice is what Jesus said about building houses on rock and not on sands. Matthew 7:24-27.

The undecided person of sometimes have and sometimes don't can take be one of the following 3 types of audience as told by Jesus in the Parables of the Sowers.
  1. Subtype 1 One ear in and one ear out. It was great to hear but it was quickly forgotten. It was meant for others to follow and not for me.
  2. Subtype 2 Happily put them into practice and give up quickly when encountering difficulty.
  3. Subtype 3 Put them into practice too, but after awhile, with the success it brings, they then deviate from the original practices. Eventually, they fail too.
  4. Subtype 4 here corresponds to Lao Zi type 1 hear and practice without giving up. They are the ones that got the fruits of different degrees.
The Appearance and the Actual are Opposite
The characteristics of those following Dao is that the outside and inside are opposite. The greater the wisdom, ability and resources that you have on the inside, the lesser you want to show off.  This is because you are sure of yourself and the true values. You don't get your identity and your worth from the opinions of others. Your desire is to be true to yourself and to God and not the opinions or the likings of others. A good example is Paul, who said in Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. That is a man who is true in Dao.

We can go through the list given by Lao Zi in details to gain greater insights. 
  1. Understanding appears to be not fully understood so that we can continue to learn. True wisdom has no limits. The more you know the more you realize you don't know.
  2. Progressing appears to be retarding. That is because you are encountering greater challenges and so you are to exert yourself even more than before. Let's take patience. Initially, you have to wait for 10 minutes. So you feel you can handle it. Later, you have to wait for days. You feel frustrated and uncomfortable. You thought you are losing your patience, but actually, you have improved.
  3. The right way is flat but appears uneven is because doing the right things will attract oppositions and temptations. You will find going tough. Cheating seems easier.
  4. Top virtues appear to be without honor. That is humility at work. Leaders serve to lead. The greatest leader is the invisible one. see Levels of Leadership - Can We Measure Leadership?
  5. White appears dirty. The cleaner and whiter you get, the easier it is to spot the dirt. What used not to trouble you now seems to cause you great concern because your conscience has been cleaned. You have become more sensitive.
  6. Great virtue appears not enough. You always wish you could do more.
  7. Cultivating virtues is like copying. The best way to learn is to follow someone who has achieved it. Learning by examples is most obvious.
  8. The Genuine appears as a fake. That is because you are so good that others could not believe. They think that you are putting on a show.
  9. So square that there are no corners. We are called square because we don't cut corners and don't distort things. That is good but not good enough. We can be as square and straight as possible to stick to the right values but we should not be so inflexible and rigid that it hurt. The square is so big that you don't see the corners. It means we stick the values but the methods can be flexible to fit the right situations and people. The method is not key, the values are. So, medicines should be given to the patients according to their types. The same medicine could be good for one and could be a poison to other. If you promise to take your child for a swim next weekend and then your child fall ill in the weekend, do you still keep your promise and take him for a swim? Definitely not. Because your child health is more important than keeping the promise. Real Dao is unyielding but flexible!
  10.  The capable takes more time to accomplish. The greater the accomplish, the greater the effort and time needed. High-quality products take a longer time to make because of tighter precisions and better raw materials to process.
The principle teaching of Dao is clear ---- it is hidden and it does not make name for itself. Making himself known is not important for him, but rather, giving and helping you succeed is his desire! It is always about others and not self in Dao. The Dao that gives birth to you will take care of you.

Lim Liat (c) 22 Nov 2016

Post a Comment