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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.

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