10 March 2014

The Power of Yin-Yang and the Teaching of Lao Zi

For the western mindset, existence of bi-polar extremes is considered a dichotomy. The mindset is an either A or B and the co-existence of A and B becomes a dichotomy or a dilemma. For the Chinese mindset, the existence of both extremes and the range of possible intermediaries create a harmony of abundance in options and of lives.. The existence of one extreme requires the co-existence of the other. Either does not and could not exist alone. This complementary and supportive extremes are the key for creating a harmonious world with men and with nature and universe. This thought is clearly expressed by Lao Zi in Dao De Jing Chapter 2.
Dao De Jing 道德经 2

  1. 天下皆知美之为美,斯恶已。
    Everyone knows about beauty because there is ugliness.
  2. 皆知善之为善,斯不善已。
    All knows about goodness because there is evil.
  3. 故 有无相生,难易相成,长短相形,
    Hence, substance and void complement each other for life;
                difficulty and easiness complement each other for completeness;
                long and short make up for all shapes and sizes;
  4.      高下相倾,音声相和,前后相随;
    height and bottom make up for all inclinations;
    sound and voice make up for harmony;
    front and back make up for a progression;
  5. 恒 也 。
    resulting in everlasting.
  6. 是以 圣人处无为之事,行不言之教,万物作焉而不辞;
    Hence, the saints work on non-violating tasks,
                teach by examples without the speech,
                and accomplish much work well without mentioning them (no bragging).
  7. 生而不有,为而不恃,功成而弗居; 夫唯弗居,是以不去。」
    Give birth or create something and yet own not,
    do all the work and demand not,
    completed the tasks and claim no credits or rewards.
    Yet because not claiming credits, the benefits are everlasting.
The lessons learned:
  1. The co-existence of two extremes is the permanent reality. Don't choose either extreme but work within the range, the dynamic balance of extremes according to the situations and people involved.
  2. The opposite is not against you but a help to you.
    Your competitors keep you on your guard and help you to become better. There are an opportunity in crisis and a crisis hidden in an opportunity.
  3. To accomplish great things effortlessly, follow the narrow order of nature. Even if doing the right thing according to the natural order is difficult (there are oppositions against you), you still do it because in the long run, the total benefits of doing right things outweighs the short-term gains or ease of doing the wrong things.
  4. For lasting leadership and success, do things because they are needful rather than for your own glory and gains. Following the natural order or principles will lead to greater productivity.
  5. The better form of leadership is to lead by examples and not by force or lectures only.
  6. Lao Zi does not teach us to take no action and leave it to nature. Rather, he teaches us to grasp the principles and laws of nature and then faithfully follow them to create a better world that last.
  7. What other lessons can you learn from Lao Zi's saying written above?
See also:

Lim Liat (c) 10 March 2014
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