25 November 2016

Skill vs Wisdom - Doing Things vs Becoming a Mature Man - DaoDeJing 48

The modern world stresses on acquiring skills to do things whereas the Ancient Chinese places wisdom as the development of character before acquiring of skills. We then better understand the problems of this modern world. DaoDeJing 48
DaoDeJing Chapter 48 Text and Translation:

1 为学日益,为道日损,
Education is about acquiring increasing knowledge of skills.
Acquiring the Wisdom of Dao is about decreasing the desires of self.

2 损之又损,以至于无为;
Decrease and decrease further until one does not do things to satisfy one own desire against the Dao.

3 无为而无不为。
Without insisting on selfish work will lead to doing everything that follows Dao.

4 取天下常以无事,
The way to gain the world is to regular no doing anything against Dao.

5 及其有事,不足以取天下。
If there be any work for self, then one will not be equipped to gain the world.

Skill vs Wisdom
We acquire skill so as to be more productive in doing work. Wisdom, however, is about how can we be a better person. All the knowledge and skill without the right character will only create a bigger threat for the world. Consider nuclear bomb vs swords, which is more destructive? Hence we can appreciate the wisdom of Ancient Chinese that places the development of a character before acquiring of skills. This is also where the modern education system fails. We stress on skills and not character and we wonder why highly qualified and intelligent graduates from the ivy league colleges cheated and create the great financial crisis of 2008-2009. Unless we change, expect more such nasty crimes. Oops! The banks and financial institutions were bailed out. The CEOs left with great pay and bonuses. Only the Icelanders did it right.

The Meanings of WuWei无为 No Action
This chapter teaches us some meanings of WuWei - No Action.
  1. It is not about no action. It is about the decreasing of the something that is against Dao. Lao Zi says the more we have of Dao we will have less of this thing against Dao. The best is there is no more such against. Dao is the righteous way and so the opposite will be sinfulness. More of Dao and less of sins is the teaching here. Hence,
  2. No action actually means no sinful deeds. i.e. no violation of Dao.
  3. Replacing no sinful acts with righteous acts is taught by Lao Zi in verse 3. As long as it is right, do it. Here we see the positive aspect of Lao Zi teaching. This is repeated by Lao Zi chapter 63 and 64 and other places as well. (63 为无为,事无事,味无味。64 是以圣人无为故无败,无执故无失。)
  4. The consequence of doing right and remove wrong will lead to the gaining of the whole world. We know why people who want to conquer the whole world fail. It is because their motives and their methods were wrong. They want to conquer by selfish gains and by force.
Lim Liat (c) 25 Nov 2016

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