The Philosophical Ideas of Tao Te Ching

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As we grow older and mature throughout our years we tend to as ourselves “What am I doing here? Why is there a soul in my body? What am I supposed to do with it?”. As we hope to find the answers to these questions we learn more and more about ourselves on the journey to answer these questions. The Tao Te Ching and Upanishads don’t necessarily answer these questions but rather serve as a guide to aid us in the journey to find the answers to these questions and more about oneself. When reading the Tao Te Ching for the first time a majority including myself have the same reaction “what did I just read”. The Tao Te Ching is a difficult text to read and must be read multiple times to fully understand. However, reading it multiple times is not a bad thing at all, in fact it is a good thing. After reading it multiple times one finally understands it and learns more about their patience. The Tao Te Ching opens our eyes about everything. The central message of the Tao Te Ching is finding ones’ inner peace with the matters at hand. As talked about in class one needs to know the difference between hot and cold before name picking the two and saying that they feel either hot or cold at the moment and the Tao Te Ching teaches us not to name things such as that because we quickly make judgments based off those names simply because we are humans. It shows us that our judgmental side of us shouldn’t dictate our lives and essentially, we should let our cleared-up minds/given soul lead us on this journey. Personally, after reading and more importantly gaining more insight about the Tao Te Ching I learned a little more about myself and realized what I need to do to be happier. What I learned was not to name and hold onto things that I don’t have control over, the biggest thing for me was love. The Tao Te Ching taught me not to hold onto a thought in my head and let that dictate my life. Instead of thinking “Why doesn’t she like me?” I now think “What can I do to improve myself for myself?” It made me realize that I live this life for myself and everything will flow naturally rather than holding onto the rock in the river trying to fight the stream the Tao Te Ching taught me to let go of the rock and let the flow of the river show me my life.

The Upanishad is split up into different books and the ones that I will be referring to are the Kena and the Katha. Both talk about something completely different but teach a lesson that can both be applied to one’s own life. The Kena taught me that there is more than what the eye can see, more than what the mouth can speak, and taught me that there are more than the actions we do. The Katha taught me to do my best in the few chances I have during my life, to get back up stronger, and to make the most of them knowing that everything will eventually result in death. These two books each have their own central message that lead to the thought of how we preform in our lives. The Kena’s central message is there is a deeper thought behind everything that we do but we cannot control it; it showed me the Brahman’s perspective. Essentially, the Brahman perspective is our cleared-up mind/given soul thinking for us without our control than making the body see/do/say/etc. what it wants us to. The Katha’s central message is that death is inevitable, and we need to be and do the best we can to fulfill our lives prophecies. Although we might fall down a couple of times it teaches us to not give up on our goals even though it may be difficult sometimes. It also teaches us not to take from others but to work hard to have enough for ourselves, so we wouldn’t need to take from others. Together these two have taught me that my Brahman will guide me to fulfill the reason why I live.

The Tao Te Ching and the Katha and Kena of the Upanishads have their own messages that are not as related to one another. However, they both revolve around the concept our cleared-up minds/given soul or Brahman showing us our correct path of life and what we should be focusing on to do what we are supposed to do in our given life. They both teach us to be our own person and to live our own lives. Although we do not know what we are supposed to do we will eventually figure it out and do it. Everyone’s life has its own meaning and is guided by their own Brahman and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to them because everyone’s life has its own goals and meanings. This applies to things in the real world because every important figure has their own path their path might conflict with yours and either help or hurt you in your process, but you shouldn’t aspire to be like them. This is mainly seen in younger kids who say “when I grow up I want to be like…” yet they don’t realize that they are their own person. After reading and analyzing the Tao Te Ching and parts of the Upanishad personally I still cannot answer the following questions “What am I doing here? Why is there a soul in my body? What am I supposed to do with it?” but I do now understand that they will be answered when they are ready to be answered.

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