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The Tao Te Ching, personal development, and the ego February 28, 2012

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Tao Te Ching.
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In the continuing journey towards personal growth and self-development, there is a danger in forgetting, or losing sight of our own strengths and talents and a tendency to perhaps try to mold ourselves in an “expert’s” view as to how we should develop our personality, or how we should approach trying to achieve a particular self-improvement goal.

This can be especially true when we are trying to do something different in our program of personal growth. Because what we are trying to do is new to us, we may tend to rely extensively on the views of people we think know more than we do.

If what we are attempting is in the creative area, such as painting, starting a blog, or writing a book, for example, we need to make sure that we are true to ourselves, and not be afraid to follow our own instincts. Ironically, perhaps in an effort to manage or control our ego in the creative area, we might be making the mistake of not listening to our own intuition, or inner wisdom.

I found an interesting passage in the Tao Te Ching, written by Lao-tzu many centuries ago, which  illustrates the importance of listening to out interior voice:

The Master does his job
and then stops.
He understands that the universe
is forever out of control,
and that trying to dominate events
goes against the current of the Tao.
Because he believes in himself,
He doesn’t try to convince others.
Because he is content with himself,
He doesn’t need others’ approval.
Because he accepts himself,
The whole world accepts him.

This may seem like allowing the ego to take over, but it is more a matter of being confident of our own abilities, doing the best work we can, and moving on to new challenges. It could apply to a single piece of creative endeavour or it could apply to a large body of intellectual work.

Another section concludes with two succinct lines of advice:
Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

The version of the Tao Te Ching I excerpted this from was translated by Stephen Mitchell, and was published in paperback by HarperPerennial A Division of Harper Collins Publishers, New York. This edition was published in 1991.

The book contains a helpful forward by Mr. Mitchell and, as can be seen by the excerpt above, the translation is in clear and simple, contemporary, yet elegant, English. To assist the reader, the book has a 26-page section at the end that offers insights and interpretations of various lines from the sections or chapters.

The Tao Te Ching, as translated by Stephen Mitchell, contains 81 separate passages of wisdom writing, and can be an excellent source of inspiration for anyone seeking a path of personal growth.

Searching for the ultimate personal development book February 27, 2012

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Personal Growth Books.
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In trying to reach our personal development goals, many of us have spent a lot of time looking for the ultimate self-help book that would help us with solving our problems. And throughout the years we bought many such books. But if your experience is anything like mine, we found there was, unfortunately, no ultimate book with all the answers to our personal difficulties.

In my home, what seems like hundreds of these books are stuffed in bookshelves, and lurking in every corner, many of them with multi-colored Post-It  notes sticking out of certain pages, and littered with red underlining.  “Especially important” insights in these books might have extra underlining in blue or green.

And yet, the search for the perfect book with all the answers goes on.  Despite having enough personal growth books to start a small library on the topic, I continue to buy them. If I had $5 for each self-improvement book I have bought over the years, I could probably afford a very nice vacation and thereby improve myself by relaxing and meditating on a beach in some exotic location.

Generally, I have found that  each of these books do  usually contain some helpful advice or kernel of information,  that might help with a particular problem such as trying to manage our ego, control our temper,  accomplish more in less time, help us to stop procrastinating, or live in the present moment – you know the rest of the list.

The Internet and search engines, of course, have simplified this quest for personal growth information, and it’s usually free. So now, although I still buy a few of these books I am not spending a lot of money on them.  I am however spending a lot of time online in a continuing search for the answers to life’s challenges.

Ultimately, I suppose this is a harmless habit , but I sometimes  need to remind myself, that in some instances, just doing something proactive and taking even small steps towards a achieving a goal, or overcoming a problem, might be more reassuring and productive  than reading yet even more about how deal with my problems.