18 April 2005


“Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching”


1. Select one of the sections and give main ideas with a short analysis.


           In verse 29 has the main idea of Lao-tzu’s “Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching” which states, “The world is sacred. It can’t be improved.” This quote implies that the world has its own rule of balance. Even though the greatest man in the world governs, he can not change the orbit of universe. If the Master overrules people, people can not find their own way to accomplish on their will. It undermines their abilities, and eventually ruins their spirit. It causes things out of balance, and chaos will arise everywhere. He indicates that there is a time for being changed naturally. There is “the method,” as in “the way to live, and the way to enlightenment”; “the ultimate reality of existence.” Lao-tzu implies the main ideas of the “Tao-te Ching” in verse 29 which indicate to be aware of balance, “moderation.”


2. Which statements made in this selection do you feel support a materialist view of experience? Can they be resolved with Lao-tzu’s overall thinking in the selection?


           Verse 67 has a materialist’s point of view which states, “Some say that my teaching is nonsense. Others call it lofty but impractical.” However, Lao-tzu resolves with his overall thinking which states, “But to those who have looked inside themselves, this nonsense makes perfect sense.” Furthermore, he explains his teaching by demonstrating examples of people’s greatest treasures; “simplicity, patience, compassion” which states,


Simple in actions and in thoughts,

you return to the source of being.

Patient with both friends and enemies,

you accord with the way things are.

           Compassionate toward yourself,

           you reconcile all beings in the world.


           “Practice not-doing” seems impractical to materialist’s view of experience. However, Lao-tzu emphasizes the reverse way to prove his thoughts which states, “And those who put it into practice, this loftiness has roots that go deep.” To prove this quote to be resolved in verse 58, he states,


When the will to power is in charge,

the higher the ideals, the lower the results.

           Try to make people happy,

           and you lay the groundwork for misery.

           Try to make people moral,

           and you lay the groundwork for vice.


           Lao-tzu proves the consequences. If the Master tries to improve things, it turns back with worse results. He indicates “the way to live” which states in verse 75:


           Act for the people’s benefit.

Trust them: leave them alone.


3. What are the limits and benefits of the expression: “Practice not-doing, /and everything will fall into place”? See verse 3.


Benefits are illustrated in verse 18.


           When the great Tao is forgotten, goodness and piety appear.

When the body’s intelligence declines,

cleverness and knowledge step forth.

           When there is no peace in the family, filial piety begins.

           When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born.


           It explains more in verse 19. By throwing away holiness, wisdom, morality, justice, industry and profit, people will be a hundred times happier, do the right thing, and won’t be any thieves. If you leave things as it is, goodness will come naturally. Therefore, everything will fall into place by “Practice not-doing.” If let thing go without imposing or meddling them, people become more creative and vigorous, and consequently things will be done well by in nature. In other words, if people do things with their free will, the result will be greater than compelled or controlled.


It also explains in verse 57.


Therefore the Master says:

I let go of the law, and people become honest.

I let go of economics, and people become prosperous.

I let go of religion, and people become serene.

I let go of all desire for the common good, and the good becomes common as grass.


It indicates the benefits of “Practice not-doing” which states, “Let go of fixed plans and concepts, and the world will govern itself.”


           Limits are showing in verse 80.


           If a country is governed by “Practice not-doing,” in a view points of limit side, people will be content enjoying their labor with their hands working their garden without wasting their time to invent machines, enjoying their food with their families without interesting in travel, eventually dying of old age without ever having gone to see other than their own world. It indicates that if let all thing leave as it is, the needed thing will naturally be done. Therefore, it is not necessary to force or restrain people; they will find the right things on their own way and will be contented by what they did.


4. Turn in a short description of your topic for the research paper (one or two sentences).


           My topic for the research paper will be “Examining the Japanese History Textbook Controversies” from recent issues that Chinese students to prevent Tokyo from winning a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. It escalates not only Japan alters their history textbook against China and Korea, but also Japanese are not truly the postwar pacifists against the world.