Tao and Lao Tzu: Discussion Questions
1.) According to Lao-tzu, what must the ruler provide the people with if they are to be happy? “Try to make people happy, and you lay the groundwork for misery.” According to Lao-tzu, in order to make the people happy, the ruler must stop insisting that they find happiness. In verse 66, Lao-tzu describes, “All streams flow to the sea.” By saying this, he is describing that a government must take a position underneath its people in order to ensure their happiness. The government must follow its people, and provide a sense of trust within the governed.
2.) To what extent does Lao-tzu concern himself with individual happiness? Lao-tzu concerns himself with the three values of simplicity, patience, and compassion. As far as individual happiness goes, Lao-tzu finds truth in the fact that a ruler cannot provide happiness for his people if he is consistently trying to make them happy. Throughout the “Thoughts from the Tao-te Ching,” Lao-tzu supports a type of “invisible” government. He insists that if the government is too powerful it will lose the trust of its citizens. Lao-tzu advocates for “the center of the circle.” If people stay at the center of the Tao, all things will fall into place. I personally like this concept of “wholeness.” If the government tries too hard to govern, I believe that they will lose trust in the people and therefore lose the people’s happiness. Although Lao-tzu does not concern himself with the track to individual happiness, he does hint at a way to happiness through lack of governmental power, and personal acceptance of the Tao.
3.) How would you describe Lao-tzu’s attitude toward the people? I believe that Lao-tzu greatly respects the people and their place in the country. Lao-tzu believes that too much government power is detrimental to a society, and if a government tries to force their ways on a group of people too much, the ending result will be tyranny and unhappiness. One major value to Lao-tzu is trust. He