Reflections and Analysis on Tao te Ching

Topics: Tao Te Ching, Tao, Taoism Pages: 8 (1293 words) Published: October 30, 2014
Reflections and Analysis on Tao te Ching

Tao te Ching was written around the 6th century BC by the sage, Lao-Tzu, a record- archiver for the Zhou dynasty court, which was a Chinese dynasty from c.1046–256 BC. The

book is a fundamental text for both philosophical, and religious Taoism and it is one of the three

major systems of thought in China along with Confucianism and Buddhism. Tao literally means

“way,” Te means “virtue,” and Ching means “canon.” Thus Tao-te Ching is a compound noun

meaning “morality way.” From ancient time to nowadays, people from different professions,

from diverse cultural backgrounds and experiences from various stages of their lives use Tao te

Ching as a source of inspiration, meditation, and exhortation. Its influence has also spread

widely outside East Asia; indeed, it is one of the most translated works in the world. There have

been numerous studies of Taoism in literature, philosophy, religion and communication. I

usually just consult the text for encouragement, concentration and admonition. From a studying

perceptive, in terms of stylistic structure, persuasive techniques or rhetorical devices, Lao-Tzu

wisely utilizes juxtaposition, as a literary device with open interpretation in a reasonable and

calm tone. He carefully selects words to repeat certain points throughout the book to develop his

voice. Considering how Lao-Tzu utilizes methods with eclectic words in repetition structure, one

will discover Lao-Tzu not only portrays a united image of Tao by creating a shared message, but

also guides people to comprehend the real affairs of the society and furthermore persuade his

readers to adopt a Tao way of thinking.

As a persuasive poet, Lao-Tzu undoubtedly draws readers into questioning Tao by

stating “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the

eternal name...Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source. This source is called

darkness. Darkness within darkness. The gateway to all understanding” (chapter 1). In this

quotation, we have the juxtapositions of mystery and manifestation, darkness and understanding.

The usage of juxtaposition here causes readers to stop and reconsider the meaning of the text

through contrasting images, ideas and motifs, which is all about balance/Tao. The last two

lines are extremely crucial to lead his readers to the next chapter by his word choice because

with open interpretations to his Tao, it is all about murkiness. After creating “Darkness within

darkness” for readers, however, Lao-Tzu suggests that Tao is the way to all the clarity, “The

gateway to all understanding”. The author successfully employs juxtaposition with his word

choice to keep his readers on the path of the Tao to finish their journeys.

The first time I started this journey was while I was in China. Tao te Ching was divided

into two parts: Tao Ching and Te Ching, which provides a clear and systemic way to study it.

This reflection and analysis are also based on my previous experiences with it. This fathomless,

vacuous unity of Tao is inexhaustible. For instance, “When people see some things as beautiful,

other things become ugly.... Being and non-being create each other. Difficult and easy support

each other. Long and short define each other.” (Chapter 2). Lao-Tzu simply reinforce his

points from chapter 1 without mere repetition. He tried to show a balanced way, a natural

way of universe. At the same time, Lao-Tzu starts applying his reasonable and calm tone with

unarguable facts, without beautiful, one can’t define ugly; without difficult, one can’t define

easy; without good, one can’t define bad. In this chapter, Lao-Tzu also furnishes readers with

little clarity to answer chapter 1’s darkness with darkness. Juxtapositions are utilized here quite

heavily, so Lao-Tzu can place more...
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