23 June 2014

Going against the Law of Entropy to build Lastingness by Lao Zi in DaoDeJing 23

Have relationship problems? Let Lao Zi shows us 3 aspects to get them right. Do you share the same values? Do you truly walk out your values? Are you willing to sacrifice for your values? If so, you are building lasting relationship.
Nature shows us that everything is temporary and changing. The Law of Entropy tells us that everything moves toward randomness over time. Yet in this DaoDeJing 33, Lao Zi gives us a twist from his usual advice of following the law of nature to tell us how to build permanence in the world of temporariness. He talks about how to build lasting relationship and gives us three aspects of Dao(values), De(Vrituous Character - the Level of Attaining the Dao(Values), and Sacrifice in relationship building.
The details of Dao De Jing 23 are shown in the mind-map:
Why is this chapter 23 talking about relationship?
The chapter begins with natural events like storms and rains are temporary and then ask about how can man escape from such temporariness. The last statement speaks of integrity and trust or rather the lack of. In the middle, Lao Zi shares the tree key concepts of Dao( The Way of Nature or Values in this context), De (the attainment of men to reach the Dao) and the Sacrifice or Loss in maintaining the Dao. It speaks of agreeing, following and welcoming one another. So, we know he is talking about building lasting relationship among people.

The 3 Aspects of Lasting Relationships:
The first aspect is Dao or Values. Those who walk together must agree and shares the values to start.  Confucius reminded us that if we don't share the same values we cannot walk together (literally plan together).  Before you start any relationship, even a business relationship, please make sure the partners share the same values. It is good practice for the church to encourage couples to marry someone that share the same faith. Otherwise, the relationship cannot last. It will if only one of them change his/her faith to agree with the other. Business partnership also follows the same rule. Without the same values, the business practices will differ.

The second level is De the actual realization of the Values that we claim we share. This is a measure of the maturity of the virtuous character (according to the shared values) each person has reached. It is about walking out the talk of our beliefs. A believer marrying a non-believer shows the lack of believe in his or her own faith. Of course, some will give the excuse that he/she will become one once they get married. The wisdom is that if one cannot change before the marriage, one will surely not change after the marriage since the motivation to do so will be less.

The third level is the one of sacrifice or suffering losses. We are face with various challenges in this world. There is possibility of our own neglect or moments of burn-out that we fail to keep our promises. Then there is the lure of temptations or the pressure of threats and persecutions from others that cause us to bend our values and under deliver our promises. In face of suffering, will we still stick to our values and promises. If so, the relationship will strengthen further after such challenging sacrifices. Sacrifices are truly measures of the true values we place in the relationship.

What to do with broken promises?
We need to admit our failure and go back to where we have failed and recover from there. Did we fail because of external threats or temptations or just our burn-out? Or in fact we have different understanding of the values that we thought we shared? Seeking clarification, forgiveness and restart will help to build better and longer lasting relationship. We have to earn back the trust that we have lost.

Lim Liat (c) 23 June 2014

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