Rereading Lao Tzu’s current significance: dealing with the relationship between contention and non contention

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Lao Tzu’s 5000 words, which have been circulating for more than 2000 years, are said to be a human cultural classic in the world second only to the circulation of the Bible. The reason for such a long-standing amount of translation, printing and reading lies in its constant thinking, alertness and “quenching” effect on the human spiritual world. There are always many crazy times in human history, either a period of frequent wars, a period of sharp rise, or a period of neck leading transformation. At this time, we need to listen to Lao Tzu’s words that are neither hot nor cold, neither sulky nor angry, neither ill nor fierce, nor crazy nor impatient.

We are in a period of rapid economic and social rise, which can also be said to be a period of great transformation of people’s thinking consciousness and social structure. How can we keep a little sober, normal, low temperature, and a little vigilant, speculative, and cold eyed in the flourishing age of singing and dancing everywhere, with celebrations every day, good news from time to time, and happy songs everywhere? I think reading Lao Tzu is a way of reading cultural classics that needs to be encouraged nowadays. In the past, many people in the West paid attention to Lao Tzu, and Hegel regarded Lao Tzu’s theory as a real philosophy; Nietzsche said that Lao Tzu’s thought “is like an inexhaustible well, deep in treasure”; Now, many Westerners are looking for ways to improve the abnormal development of economy and society in the wisdom of Lao Tzu. We should get the moon first. I think Lao Tzu has at least the following important cognitive values for the current society.

How to deal with the relationship between good people and nature

With the high development of human civilization and the continuous progress of science and technology, the contradictions between man and society, man and nature have become increasingly prominent. The strong public opinion of “emission reduction” and “low carbon” rising one after another is almost nothing compared with the crazy development and grabbing of nature by human beings. The crux lies in the surging of people’s pleasure, possession, greed and madness. “Tao Te Ching” said: “between heaven and earth, it’s still narrow! Empty and unyielding, moving and growing. It’s better to keep the middle than to talk too much and talk too little.” It means that the natural world, like a big bellows, is not exhausted in emptiness. The more it is pulled, the more and more wind it produces. Just as the more people talk, the easier it is to incur loss and failure, Lao Tzu hopes that people can keep quiet and don’t pull the “bellows” of nature indiscriminately. It seems more and more impossible. For the sake of globalization and human extravagance, all over the world, the “bellows” is loud, the “bellows rod” is too short, and the “bellows belly” is too small. They are desperately using scientific and technological means to enhance the potential of the “bellows”. Who can restrain this crazy “pull” of the enchanted human collective?

Lao Tzu said, “knowing Chang Yueming. Not knowing Chang, acting recklessly.” This “Chang” refers to the eternal law of nature. Lao Tzu always hopes that people can clearly understand the great power of nature. Many people say that Lao Tzu’s concepts of “returning to nature”, “no desire” and “no action” are a kind of retrogression. Can we give up cars, computers and mobile phones and return to the “Peach Blossom Land” era of “I don’t know the Han Dynasty, regardless of the Wei and Jin Dynasties”? Even back to the “small country with few people” era advocated by Lao Tzu? I want to read Lao Tzu, which is to understand the “Tao”, that is, to understand the essence of things, so as to grasp the operation law of things. It is to see the flow of a long river from a distance, rather than short-sighted the short-term fluctuations of a shoal or a deep pool. A moment of brilliance may bring long-term gloom. This is the dialectic that Lao Tzu told us. “Be simple and selfish, and have few desires”. Even for various reasons, you have to continue to pull the “bellows” of desire. After reading Lao Tzu, you can keep a sober mind, a kind of introspection, and a little awe, fear, and guilt for nature. It is always better than always thinking that the more you enjoy the “bellows”, the more reasonable, meritorious, and epoch-making.

How to deal with the relationship between competition and “non competition”

In the Tao Te Ching, almost the whole article is full of the concept of “indisputable”. “The best is like water. Water is good for all things without contention… Husband only does not contend, so it is not special.” “If you don’t fight, the world can’t fight with it.” “The way of heaven is to win without competition.” “I have three treasures, which I hold and protect. One is kindness, the other is frugality, and the third is not daring to be the first in the world.” wait. In today’s competitive society, it seems that Lao Tzu’s “language fragments” are extremely outdated remarks. However, precisely because we have lost our normal grasp of human philosophy, it leads to the disorder and overturning of various “Pandora’s box” in excessive competition. War is like this, and economic development is like this, so that people’s normal life has become unbearable and even abnormal in the competition everywhere. The arms race of mankind has led to the proliferation of nuclear weapons; Human beings’ space race is likely to lead to “dark clouds” of space debris; However, the competition of human beings’ material possession has overwhelmed the earth. People cheat against each other, the law of the jungle, inequality between the rich and the poor, constant conflicts, and smoke of gunpowder everywhere… Let’s turn around and listen to Lao Tzu’s words: “contentment is often enough.” “If you hide too much, you will die too thick. Therefore, if you are satisfied with enough, you can live long.” Lao Tzu also said, “dare to kill, dare to live.” “I don’t dare to be the Lord, but a guest. I don’t dare to enter the inch, but retreat the foot.” At the end of the five thousand words, he also talked confidently: “the way of heaven, benefit but not harm; the way of man, do not fight for.” This is Lao Tzu, who suffered from the struggle of the overlords in the spring and Autumn period and even brought disaster to the country and the people, and repeatedly exhorted him helplessly to history.

If there is no competitive power in society, it may become a backwater. However, excessive promotion of competition and no effective system to frame it will inevitably stir up the evil of human nature and enter a disorderly situation of open fire, cannibalism and life and death. The most typical is: everything is willing to give up the arduous struggle process and achieve brilliant results. In the long run, if you are in politics, you will inevitably be greedy for foreign countries, eager for great achievements, heretical, and deceive the upper and lower levels; As a man, he must exaggerate and whitewash his mistakes. Grass snakes swallow elephants, and he is arrogant. Everything, everything, everything has a process of accumulation and quantitative change from less to more, from small to large. Lao Tzu said: “the tree that hugs is born at the slightest; the platform of nine floors starts from the tired soil; a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Overnight, we want to go straight to the pyramids, compete to become the richest man in the world, the richest man in the world, the cultural master, and the political superstar. Learning to sing a few pop songs, we want to become a vocal master, build a few temples, and compete for a few inexplicable historical or legendary figures. We want to attract the world’s attention and become the overlord of the cultural industry. All these, among others, are full of monsters and farces. If Lao Tzu were born again, I’m afraid even the “prescription” of “indisputable” is disdainful to be written for these people.

How to understand the relationship between “strong” and “weak”

Being strong is a survival goal pursued by human society, no matter the state, nation, team, family or individual. Lao Tzu, however, painstakingly wants people to “keep the female”, “keep the weak”, “keep the soft” and “get rid of the inferior”. Lao Tzu said, “the reason why Jianghai can be the king of hundreds of valleys is that he is good at it, so he can be the king of hundreds of valleys.” Lao Tzu wants to be “vulgar in the big country”, not be aggressive and be “vulgar”, so as to truly become an inclusive big country and powerful country. Lao Tzu said, “Qu is complete, waste is straight, depression is full…” Lao Tzu said many adverse words about being strong and tough. He metaphorically said that people are weak when alive, and they will be strong when they die, and plants are soft and brittle when they live, and they will be rigid when they die. “A strong army will perish, a strong wood will break. The strong will go down, and the weak will go up.” Countries, ethnic groups, teams are like this, and individuals are like this? The impetuous impulse of society, the prevalence of individualism, and the proliferation of shortsightedness and utilitarianism are all the disasters caused by blindly trying to be strong. Lao Tzu has repeatedly said that “those who strengthen the Liang Dynasty will not die”, “great music has the faintest notes, great form Is beyond shape”, “straight but not arrogant, light but not brilliant”, and even ancient emperors should call themselves “lonely and widowed” to show their inferiority. Lao Tzu repeatedly stressed that “weakness is better than strength”, and that we should “know its male, keep its female, know its white, keep its black, know its glory, and keep its disgrace”. Lao Tzu believes that water is the weakest, under everything, but it is invincible and omnipotent. In these philosophical views, Lao Tzu seems to have the meaning of a conspirator, but his essence is still to ease social disputes, calm the agitation of life, let the strong introspect and converge, let the weak relax, and slow down the multiple squeeze of material and spirit.

There is a huge gap between the rich and the poor in today’s world, and there is a clear distinction between the strong and the weak. No matter the country, the nation, the team or the individual, they are further widening this boundary. The infinite expansion of the desire of the strong will inevitably crowd out the living space of more people, leading to hatred and disputes among people, ethnic groups, countries and countries. How can the strong “go to extravagance and Thailand”, change the extravagant and licentious life of extravagance and lust, showing off and comparing, and desperately enjoying pleasure, and then turn to compassion, compassion, and supporting the weak, and take responsibility with the mind of “good for evil” and “good for the abyss, good for benevolence, good faith, good governance, and good at things”, which is a good medicine that can solve some problems without using violent means. In order to build a harmonious society and a harmonious world, we must limit the excessively inflated desires within a certain range, especially within the scope of fair and just competition. Otherwise, harmony can only be a distant vision of mankind.

After all, Lao Tzu is too far away from us, and the social problems of his era are far less complex and changeable than those of today. However, his thoughts of loving life, opposing blind tossing, fighting, material slavery and war are still very applicable to us today. He advocates letting nature take its course, advocating simplicity and simplicity, advocating humility, guarding the weak, and advocating health preservation and longevity. I think it is to grasp the essence of human existence. We should stay away from many ideas that rely on accumulating wealth and wasting people’s money to make contributions, conform to nature, step by step, and live a calm, calm and beautiful poetry.

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