47. An Accurate Understanding of the Decadent Ideas in Lao-Tzu Theory and Some Suggestions for Improvement
There exist many decadent ideas in Tao Te Ching, yet it should be noticed that any ideology was produced and put into use within a certain social context and background. Lao-Tzu theory was put forward in accordance with the there-then social environment and productive force to the end of adjusting relations among people in society.
When was the book being written? It was during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period when China was transforming from a slave society to a feudal society and battles were everywhere, plunging people into endless misery and sufferings. Seeing all these, Lao-Tzu had a mixture of feelings. What people were in desperate need of back then was peace and security, and to lead a quiet life was the most luxurious wish and biggest consumption for them.
Therefore, Tao Te Ching put forward by Lao-Tzu is actually for political authorities. Lao-Tzu held that they should conquer the unyielding with the yielding to reach the end of the whole world as one big family and that man and nature are of one soul. They should also nurse and nourish all his subjects like sunshine and raindrops do with the earth so that they can build a harmonious society.
In Yin-Yang theory, yang means destruction, abolishment, forging ahead, innovation, and fighting, while yin denotes cultivation, breeding, protection, reservation, contentment, and adjustment.
With the progress of different developmental stages, the progress of productive force to a certain level and social conflicts being accumulated to a certain degree, external forces will make it necessary and urgent to reform, and the society then needs revolution. If the authorities cannot see the true social conflicts or timely adjust relations among people, they are likely to retort to the means of war to resolve social conflicts. What belong to yang in terms of wars include the idea that either you die or I die, being completely done with someone or something, to remove someone or something by roots, and to solve the key issue for the solution of the whole problem. So in summary the means of yang are aggression and destruction. It is just like the urban reconstruction. Without knocking down and destructing old houses, how can new buildings be built? The act of knocking down old houses requires the most extreme means of yang. Then new houses are built and residents move in becoming host and hostess to manage the houses and make them prosper. That’s the process where yin works.
The current phenomenon of women in the dominant position while men in a much weaker position can be traced back to the most deeply-rooted, most ancient, and original theory of Tao Te Ching.
Lao-Tzu advocated the employment of yin at an extreme end to solve all problems.
However, as time passed by, things changed gradually. The ancient Arcadian scenario in which men ploughed and women weaved faded away. Gone are the days when men undertook farming while women did all the housework and brought meals to their husbands day after day and year after year. It was the Western guns that woke up Chinese people from their fantasies and pulled them from their sleepy state back to the reality. What is reality? It is competition, endless, fierce, and damaging competition.
Competition exists everywhere, among humans, among different areas and countries. It does not belong to Chinese only, and it is not what humans want in nature; instead, it is an obligatory course posed on us by external forces.
Those who left behind are bound to be bullied, and a typical example was the burning down of Yuanmingyuan. To avoid lagging behind, we must compete. To be number 2 or number 3 assures no security. We need to compete to be number 1.
The balance of yin and yang as well as the harmony of celestial and terrestrial forces for the growth of all living things are present in ancient Chinese the philosophy of Yin and Yang, which emphasises both feminine and masculine.
Therefore, the traditional Chinese culture needs to add and reconcile with the Western masculine culture, playing their roles in a scientific and correct way.
The current mode of social operation in China is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures, and the organic product of communist culture and democratic culture. They play their strong points in different areas to serve for the people and their fundamental interests, effectively and scientifically promoting social stability, social justice, scientific national management, as well as stable and rapid economic development.