Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tao Te Ching Essay

Essay on Tao Te Ching

Today we are living in a world of declining values. At one time we lived in a world of innocence. A world that taught a strict code of what was right and what was wrong. Morality was viewed as objective, meaning that these moral codes where universal, that everyone had the same values. In the last few decades that has drastically changed. Morality is no longer viewed as objective, it is now subjective. The individual is free to decide what is moral for him or her. Making these decisions are hard to do in a society that has abandoned almost all ties to morality. People are shocked when young children or teenagers turn to crime. They can’t understand how or why it happened. I believe to solve this problem, we must create a set of values that today’s youth can understand. This is why the Tao Te Ching was intensely interesting to me. Not because it solves today’s moral dilemma, but because I believe it is part of the cause. Yes, it teaches that we should all live a balanced life. And yes it teaches that we can live in harmony. What it lacks, is consequences, as well as a strong foundation of right and wrong. It teaches that there really is no sin. Isn’t that why the world is where it is at today? In reading these verses of the Tao Te Ching I saw a very articulate collection of proverbs. Proverbs which have a good message, but due to its lack of moral fiber it is not something I want to base my life on.

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Throughout my reading of the Tao Te Ching I considered many verses to focus on. The one I found myself drawn to was verse 44. This verse teaches that we must not look to others for happiness, but we must instead find it in ourselves. Also, it teaches money can’t make you happy, and to be satisfied with what you have. It teaches that you must take an inventory of the things you have, and only then will you be happy. If we as humans could just put away our desires to have the most material objects, and celebrate what we already have, we would be content. This in my opinion is a very sensible idea, but it is not without flaw. If we just sit down and are content with what we have, what direction does our life have? Many toddlers are happy wearing diapers, but in order to grow and mature they must learn to change and not be content with the diaper wearing routine. The same could be applied to any ones life. I could have been content at the Electronics Institute, but I chose not to be.

I took a proactive roll in my own life, and am now on track to a more successful future then I ever imagined I had ever imagined . Our country would not be where it is today if we weren’t a people of drive and determination. If the Puritans would have followed the ideas of the Tao Te Ching, and where content with their oppression, we would not be here today. We would not be enjoying the freedoms we delight in. But on the positive side, I agree that we must find happiness through ourselves. We must strive for integrity, and to a certain extent, be delighted in the things we have. This verse seems to sum up everything I have learned in the past semester. When I read it I thought of Willie Lowman in Death of a Salesman, who tried to find happiness through others and the pain it caused. I also thought of The Overworked American, and our use of money to measure satisfaction. This connection between the two is why this verse is my favorite. Both these books have had a profound impact on my life.

Growing up I was raised in a Southern Baptist home. In fact, my father was a Baptist minister. I was raised to have strong Christian values. Yet, as soon as I was old enough I quickly abandoned what the church had taught me. Throughout my teenage years I had no religious affiliation. In truth, I probably broke almost all of the Ten Commandments. But through all of my defiance, I have found in the past couple of years that the Bible, a book I shunned for many years, may have some good ideas.

Although I do not consider myself to be a Christian, I see that the teaching of the Bible seems to be our only way go get a grip on morality. Before the separation of church and state, values and morals where openly taught. Children and adults alike, had a reason to live moral lives. But as soon as we took away accountability in this country, immorality began to run out of control. Books, such as the Tao Te Ching, are a part of the moral decay in today’s society. The book of Genesis in the Old Testament, the serpent tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, promising her that she will gain the knowledge of God, if she will just eat the fruit. I see a direct relationship to the temptations Eve was faced with, to ideology such as the Tao Te Ching and Zen Buddhism. Both which promise we can achieve enlightenment, and become gods ourselves.


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