42. Tao Te Ching
It is a philosophical classic that focuses on the philosophy of governing a nation and the whole world from a macro point of view. And it can be also said to be a set of methodology or thinking patterns.
But later I knew that Taoist school regarded it as a classic of Taoism, and they applied the dominant ideology and methodology to their own bodybuilding, which resulted in the famous Taoism kung fu in China—shadowboxing. Shadowboxing is quite familiar to most households in China and enjoys a much greater recognition than Tao Te Ching.
Referring to Tao Te Ching as part of philosophy is based on the fact that it does provide a set of unique methodology that can be used not only to a nation, the whole world, or even universe, but also to individuals, enterprises, and most of the existing systems.
Tao Te Ching is the specific representation of the philosophy of Yin and Yang with explicit literariness. The philosophy of Yin and Yang is its dominant ideology.
Lao-Tzu integrated the philosophy of Yin and Yang into the complete set of theories on national navigation. Yet the usefulness of Tao Te Ching is not just limited to national navigation. It can be used to every single matter around people and all matters in the world. It is the most influential book to Chinese people, especially to their thinking patterns.
And what’s more, what was embodied by Confucius does not go beyond the scope of Tao Te Ching. Confucius-Mencius ideology just specified the contributions of Tao Te Ching to the construction of politics, feudal system, and administration and navigation and made them available in every specific and detailed matter.
Many Chinese scholars suggest that Tao Te Ching is too profound to comprehend when making some comments on the book.
Actually, an interpretation of Tao Te Ching should never be confined to the translation of its literal meanings. Instead, we should try to infer the author’s dominant ideology and appreciate his intention of creation.
The author’s intention in creating Tao Te Ching is to illustrate in some length the administration methodology and dominant ideology of a nation as a system, or say, as an autocratic system or a regulable national system. Or to be specific, it is the thinking patterns of administrators of a regulable system (particularly of nations).
What have been proposed in Tao Te Ching are some specific methods and suggestions, serving as just references that should not be interpreted from the literal meanings. As we can see, the first sentence of the book made clear the stance of the author—everything in the world is in constant change. Ways of governing a nation or specific resolutions for certain problems that can be expressed via language and writing system are bound to be re-adjusted and re-arranged according to specific social contexts with the passing of time, changing of situations, or the development of productive forces.
As an old Chinese saying goes, we should listen not to what people say but how they say it. The opening remark of the author made clear his intention.
A detailed analysis of the content in Tao Te Ching will be provided in later sections. Here, the dominant ideology in Tao Te Ching is to allow the king or leading group to administrate and coordinate within a nation as a system. When coordinating, administrators should let nature take its course and give judicious guidance according to circumstances in so as to integrate members of the system into a united force to resolve conflicts for the purpose of reaching the harmonious state within the system where man and nature are of one soul and co-exist peacefully in everlasting prosperity.