Critical Response to the Tao Te Ching Essay

2860 Words Apr 17th, 2013 12 Pages
Critical Response Paper I would like to say that I chose the Tao Te Ching, however, it chose me. I was first introduced to this text one Christmas morning, many years ago, and it has been with me (in one way or another) ever since. Due to my lifestyle I was constantly losing my copy, and in my attempts to replace it I had the pleasure of owning a multitude of versions, and differing translations. Today I will be using the 1988 publication of the Tao Te Ching as translated by author Stephen Mitchell (as my primary source). One of the main reasons I chose Mitchell’s translation is because he uses “she” instead of the conventional “he” throughout his text. I found this to be refreshing and Mitchell explains this by in the forward to …show more content…
Ethical benevolence and righteousness, with its calculating judgments and rationalizations that punish the weak and unfortunate while rewarding the robbers of the state, is not the realization but the eclipse of the ethical” (pp.304, Nelson).
There are countless ideas (with regards to ethics) within the text, however, for this paper I will be focusing on six. Those ideas (in no particular order) are selflessness, moderation, embracing the mystery, non-control, detachment, and humility.
“The Tao is infinite, eternal. Why is it eternal? It was never born; thus it can never die. Why is it infinite? It has no desires for itself; thus it is present for all beings. The Master stays behind; that is why she is ahead. She is detached from all things; that is why she is one with them. Because she has let go of herself, she is perfectly fulfilled.” (Chapter 7, Mitchell) A basic tenet of the Tao is a redefinition of “self” or “ego”. I believe this passage to mean that in order to see ourselves, we must stopping seeing ourselves as different from every other “self”. I don’t believe that the goal of the Tao was to erase the “self” (because that’s impossible). The goal instead is to keep our attention on the greater whole.
“Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will unclench. Care about

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