Lao Tzu’s Four Rules for Living

lao_tzu_by_wwagoner-d4dmkf9Legend has it that when Lao Tzu was leaving civilization he was asked by a guard to write down a guide on how to live life. This is how the Tao Te Ching came into existence and is by far one of the widely translated and well read books.

The thing about the Tao Te Ching is that every translation is the interpretation of the translator and then what you gain from the translation is again based on your perspective. For example lets take a look at this verse on virtue.

A man of highest virtue
Will not display it as his own;
His virtue then is real.
Low virtue makes one miss no chance
To show his virtue off;
His virtue then is nought.
High virtue is at rest;
It knows no need to act.
Low virtue is a busyness
Pretending to accomplishment.
Truly, once the Way is lost,
There comes then virtue;
Virtue lost, comes then compassion;
After that morality;
And when that’s lost, there’s etiquette,
The husk of all good faith,
The rising point of anarchy. ~ The Way of Life, Blakney trans., 38

The above verse speaks about different levels of virtue that exist – people with high virtue understand that they are connected to the source; They are in the flow of life and behave according to universal laws. While people of lower virtue are superficial, their purpose of being virtuous is only to bring attention to themselves, which brings up a good question, are you virtuous because of the positive attention it brings you?

I’m particularly interested in Dr Wayne Dyer’s understanding of the Tao Te Ching related to living a virtuous life, he calls it “The Four Cardinal Virtues” that was put forth by Lao Tzu. According to Dyer when you practice the four cardinal virtues you begin to live your life in flow with the universe. These virtues are not based on societal conditioning but more on the fact that we all share a common source and by following these virtues we can all realign ourselves with our true selves to access the power and energy the source has to offer.

What are the four cardinal virtues?

1) Gentleness

Its time to awaken the divine feminine in each one of us that has been overpowered by the masculine. But how are we going to do this and does it really make a difference if I am more gentle and kind? Words from the Dalai Lama come to mind ~ the first one, if you think you are too small to make a difference try sleeping with a mosquito in the room. While the other is, if you have a choice between being right and being kind, always be kind.

laotzu___by_chaosranFrom gentleness arises kindness, from kindness arises love and love overpowers everything. Although its tough to act from a place of love every time, this is when Nisargadatta’s philosophy of “I Am” comes into play. Before every action, reaction or thought just question yourself who do you want to be, who am I or I Am and then respond accordingly. Choose to be better version of your current self, keep growing and spreading the positive.

2) Reverence for All Life

Love and respect for all living people, animals, plants and creatures. Every time I read or write something on these lines, can’t help but have the movie Avatar flash by in my head. Respect all the animals, even the ones that are considered as food and the ones that are not. More importantly people, especially those who choose to walk a different path as compared to you.

I can’t imagine how jittery it must be to be a police officer in times like these, upholding a flawed system with rising unrest, all lives matter. The division between color, race, nationality and religion is an effective weapon that is used to control us. Once we look beyond these man made divisions, its so easy to consider every one to be part of our family and act from a place of kindness if not love.

3) Natural Sincerity

If you view our reality with an overview perspective its pretty tough to find honesty, truth and sincerity. Greed has taken over our world with the media, politicians, corporations putting profits before people, and sincerity has been thrown out of the window.

It gets even more difficult for us to act sincerely when the world around is crumbling into a state of dishonesty. According to Dyer, if you find this challenging, try affirming, “I no longer need to be insincere or dishonest. This is who I am, and this is how I feel.”

Always keep in mind your true purpose and being sincere is just another flower blooming in the garden of life.

4) Being Supportive

I recollect reading that helping others releases the same kind of rewarding or happy hormones as helping yourself. It also has been spoken about on numerous occasions that helping others is key to well being and staying happy. It helps bring a sense of meaning to life, it doesn’t need to start on the streets but its equally essential to start at home, your friend circle and move on to wider circles.

What you support is a personal choice, your calling may not be the same as mine. But don’t get so stuck with just working for your self because at some point of time you need to stop thinking of what’s in it for me and become selfless to receive the bounty the universe has in store for you.

Never forget, what you give you shall receive. Give love, give joy, give hope, its something all of us need.

Image Sources/References:

Lao Tzu meets Confucius
Lao Tzu Writing the Tao Te Ching
Four Rules for Living
Tao Te Ching Passage

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