One of the things that make human life intriguing and to some extent captivating is the diversity and variation exhibited by various people as a result of their differing cultures and personalities amongst other things. Different people have different beliefs and value systems and I have always been of the opinion that a lot can be learnt from the diverse practices.
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Through the years, I have had the opportunity to be exposed to various value systems, religions and philosophies. While most of these have only aroused vague curiosity in me, there are those philosophies that I have found appealing and would consider incorporating in my life.
The naturalistic philosophy of the Dao De Jing which is a compilation of texts on the Chinese way of thinking also referred to as Taoism is one of the philosophies which I consider adopting. In this paper, I shall review the impact on my values and practices that embracing Taoism shall have on my life. I shall also discuss how this decision will affect my daily living.
Having being born and raised in Italy, I have a deep-rooted love and passion for music, painting, and various other artistic works. This deep appreciation has been as a result of experiencing my childhood years in Italy, a country that places much value and appreciation for fine arts.
My personal life therefore bears witness to this as can be illustrated by the various ornaments that I adorn and the painting and sculptures that I have in my house. While some of my ornaments are only of sentimental value to me and hold no significant monetary value to speak of, others have a high monetary value and wearing them is more of a status symbol. The Dao De Jing philosophy explicitly asserts that one shall not display objects of desire as this might lead to the disturbance of the hearts of other people (140).
For me to embrace these teachings, I shall therefore have to be in sync with the Taoism value of non-materialism which seeks to create a world whereby the jealousy that is inherent in human beings is not evoked. I shall therefore have to rid myself of my art works which I greatly cherish. This will lead to harmony as vices such as theft which spring from coveting will be evaded.
In the course of my life, I have had the privilege of residing in a number of countries and interacted with people of various cultures. From this, I have honed my ability as a multilingual and at present, I work at a hospital as a medical interpreter. Most people view me with fascination and are astounded by my various achievements in life.
Many a times I find myself awing people with tales of my encounters in various continents and my exploits. According to the Taoist philosophy, one should accomplish his task but not claim credit for it (140). If I am to adopt the practices of Taoism, I shall have to stop taking credit for my accomplishments but rather be content with letting the accomplishments remain in me.
We live in a capitalistic world where emphasis is placed on being a notch above the rest. As such, competition is not only encouraged but also greatly rewarded in most of our institutes. Like many other westerners, I am therefore competitive as a factor of nurture. This attribute in me can be perfectly illustrated by my college experience where I have always aimed to achieve the best results.
In most of my educational efforts, I work as an individual so as to give myself an edge over the rest of the students. Taoism asserts that the best man is like water and he benefits all things and doesn’t compete with them (143). As such, Taoism would have me not only love humanity but also work in harmony with other human beings.
While I am not outspoken about all things in life, I hold a strong opinion on the issues that I deem to be significant in my life such as art, language and my beliefs. I am outspoken about my ambitions in life and do not shy from sharing them with others. Taoism calls on its faithful to exercise subtlety in all undertaking.
If I am to follow the path of Tao, I will be inclined to exercise discretion in my affairs and keep my ambitions and beliefs to myself. By practicing subtlety which is characterized by a hidden manifestation of affairs, I will master of things of the present and draw closer to the universe as well (146).
One of the less than pleasant experiences in my life is my recent divorce from my spouse. Owing to this event, the last couple of months have been especially turbulent for me as I have sought to regain my emotional balance. I have experienced various emotions from rage and anger to relief and ecstasy. In my moments of anger, I have viewed by former partner unfavorably and wished malevolent things upon his life.
The philosophy of the Dao De Jing calls on us to be impartial (141). As such, for me to embrace Taoism, I should learn how to regard all human beings and especially my ex-husband without any loathing. In addition to this, I should learn how to not give too much though to any of the events that happen in my life but rather aim for tranquility and inner peace. This will call for me to have the will power to let go of all the past troubles and face the future with hope.
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While my relationship with others is not marred by suspicions or great troubles, I concede that it is not as good as I would desire. This may be because of my candid nature which may at times be mistaken for insensitivity. Taoism presents a way for me to mend my relationship with others.
According to these teachings, one can buy honor by fine words and gain the respect of others by fine deeds (168). Considering that my personal and indeed my professional life is characterized by numerous instances of interactions with other people, this philosophy would be very beneficial to me since people tend to be more amicable if there is some degree of honor and respect involved in the relationship.
Through the years, I have been enrolled in various educational institutes at various levels. This has been in a bid to increase my knowledge and therefore make me a better and more productive member of the society.
While it is impossible to possess all the knowledge that is there, I have discovered through experience that sometimes people regard you with more respect if they perceive that you know more than you in reality do know. For this reason, I sometimes create the false impression of knowing more than I do. Taoism strongly suggests that such behavior is a disease and that one should be content with knowing that you do not know (172).
I suspect that the reason for this Tao stance concerning this matter is because if people think that you know something, they will not take the trouble to educate you on the issue and this may be detrimental especially to me as a student. My adoption of Taoism would therefore require that I have no shame in my ignorance but rather see it as an opportunity to increase my knowledge.
It has always been my belief that it is a moral and right thing to assist the less privileged members of our society. For this reason, I am involved in various charitable organizations and constantly offer my assistance to charitable causes. This is a practice that is also held in high esteem by Taoism.
The philosophy acclaims the person who gives to others as virtuous and further goes on to state that the more he gives to others the more he possesses of his own (176). However, Taoism goes on to state that a wise person does not accumulate wealth for themselves. This is something that I am guilty of as I have over the years aimed at saving up for my future. Embracing the philosophy would therefore require of me to use more of my resources for others so that I can have more for myself and subsequently live a fulfilling life.
In this paper, I set out to discuss the impact that embracing Taoism would have on my life as it presently stands. To this end, I have discussed my various values and practices and the significant changes that I would have to make so as to conform to the Tao standards. Without doubt, some of these changes are monumental and it would take me many years to change from my current practices.
This is mostly because some of these ideologies such as capitalism are deeply entrenched in me owing to my upbringing. However, I strongly believe that if I remained strong willed and express a genuine desire to follow the Taoist philosophy; I shall find my way and lead a tranquil and fulfilling life as the Taoism promises it’s faithful.
WIng-Tsit, C. “A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy.” New Jersey: Princeton University Press.