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Tao Te Ching and Toist Anecdotes, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 622

Essay

There is a Tao Te Ching saying, “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” If we seek wisdom, we should embrace this quote because doing so will not only help us avoid envious feelings but also use our personal resources and talent more efficiently. When we are content with ourselves, we focus more on our positive characteristics and strengths rather than shortcomings. When we try to achieve something, we do so because we want to realize our full potential and not to prove ourself superior to someone. Competition with others could be health but it may also produce negative feelings and desire to see others doing worse. But if we try to do well for our own sake and not to prove something to others, we may be more willing to help others do their best as well. This is why when we do not compete with others and we have more harmonious and fulfilling relationships with others. Others also respect us because they could sense that we do not see success and happiness as zero-sum games and we also desire others to be content and succeed as well.

This is as applicable in modern world as it has ever been. Some people have become more materialistic and more enthusiastic in pursuit of wealth because they try to compete with others and do not want to be left behind the Joneses. They are mostly focused on what they lack and when they cannot seem to get it through legitimate or legal means, they may even retort to unethical means. The corporate and political scandals we hear about are often because the individuals involved wanted more wealth or power to keep up with the rivals or possibly get ahead of them.

Similarly, there is a Taoist anecdote, “A man whose axe was missing suspected his neighbor’s son. The boy walked like a thief, looked like a thief, and spoke like a thief. But the man found his axe while he was digging in the valley, and the next time he saw his neighbor’s son, the boy walked, looked, and spoke like any other child.” This quote cautions against judging people without getting to know them or giving them the right to explain themselves. It also reminds us that appearances can be deceptive and we should remain aware of stereotypes that may cloud our judgment. This quote also points out the fact that we often seek confirmation bias for what we want to believe in while censor the contradictory information. The men in the anecdote had already judged the boy as a thief and only seek out behavior that he associated with thieves. But once the boy was found to be innocent, he started viewing him as any other child. This shows that it is always better to look at both sides of the mirror and not form judgment by looking at one side only.

This anecdote is equally effective in modern times. The conflicts between races, religions, and countries etc. are often the result of both sides not trying to understand each other and forming judgments based on stereotypes that are often ill-founded. In addition, we should not rush to judgment and take the time to confirm that we do not make mistakes that may have huge costs for the society. The war in Iraq as well as the unfair treatment of Jews in pre-WWII years are great examples. We sometimes form perceptions based on what we hear and they are often not on actual observations and experiences. Moreover, fair judgments do not require emotions but facts and logic this is why we should not let our emotions guide our judgment of other people or events.

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