08 June 2012

5 Principles for Success in Life According to Lao Zi

Lao Zi show us 5 principles for success & longevity. They are: follow nature's ways, always repay with love, start with the easy and small and then accumulate them up to greatness, do for worthiness and not for glory, be respectful and careful in life.

Lao Zi's Dao De Jing Chapter 63 gives us 5 principles for success in life. The mind map below gives us the full details.


Principle 1: Follows the Natural Order of Things
A key teaching of Lao Zi is to follow the natural order of things and never act against the natural order. Lao Zi called it "Non-Action" or more clearly explained as non-violating action. To make things to act against its nature, we need to continue to apply forces. When we release the force, the thing bounces back to its original nature. Such is the cause of stress and the cause of sickness. If we want to live long and stress free live, we need to follow the natural order. 

Extending this principle further, we will not do things for our selfish gains. Using equipment not according to its designed purpose is not proper use but abuse or misuse. The best flavors of food comes from its original nature and freshness and not by adding artificial flavorings. Simplicity and sticking to its original purpose is the principle for stress free and long life, whether of living things or of machines.

Principle 2: Always Repay Evil with Love - Because our nature is love.
We should not let external events distort our original righteous and good nature. We don't react but response rightly. When others are bad to us, we don't react negatively and be bad to them. Instead, we response according to the goodness in us. When others play out us out, we don't play them out. Instead, we keep our promises to them. Because, integrity, keeping promises, is our nature. We always keep our promises to those that are good to us and to those that are bad to us. We don't turn bad because others or the society is bad to us. This is exactly the teaching of the Bible in Matthew 5:44

Principle 3: Easy and Small Add to Greatness
Great and difficult projects are accomplished through accumulation of small steps and little efforts. To handle difficult task, we start with the easy ones first. To handle big tasks, we start with the small ones first. We put the things in order, refine and optimize all the steps, when the system is small and change is easy. When things are perfected, to scale up will be easy. Most people only want to do the big and important things and neglect the small and easy things. But problems come because of the little defects that no one want to pay attention to. A series of small defects add up to a big one. Accident happens because of a series of small mistakes. Bible tells us that he that is faithful in little, shall be faithful in much. He that is dishonest in little shall be dishonest in much (Luke 16:10).

Principle 4: Do for the Purpose instead of Glory - The Greatest Effectiveness
The greatest effectiveness comes when we do according to the purpose or the meaningfulness of the task and be not concern about the rewards and glory. Intrinsic motivations of a worthy cause and self-actualization beats the extrinsic motivations of carrots and sticks. All great men and women in history did not spent their lives trying to gain glory and wealth. Glory comes later. Glory comes because of their dedication to the work of worthiness. In modern terms, don't work for money but work for worthiness. If you work only for money, the money will fly away and we will loose our health and life (

Proverbs 23:4-5).


Principle 5: Be Respectful and Careful Always
Don't live life frivolously.  If we just make promises lightly, we will make many promises and seldom do we really fulfill them. This will result in a bad reputation for us, showing our lack of integrity. Instead, approach life with an attitude of respect and care and take things more seriously and carefully, always preparing against the worse, and we shall be at ease always. 

Dao De Jing is full of wisdom for us. 

What is even more surprising for me, as a Christian, is to find that, if we substitute the Dao (The Way) with Jesus Christ, then Dao De Jing reads like the Bible! Jesus is the fulfillment of the Dao in Lao Zi's Dao De Jing. You can see that Sinology and the Bible agrees on such principles of life and moral.

For more on Lao Zi, see 

Lim Liat (C) 8 June 2012

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