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Laozi and Dao Essay

1, Superficially understanding Laozi’s ideas, “those who know do not talk; / those who talk do not know” (56), are a bit conventional during his period time. It seems like that sages should try to follow the path of solitary, pretending to be ignorant and hide their talents to stay out of troubles. But we should think much deeper because Laozi’s wisdom is extremely profound that it is difficult for us to understand it. I think that “those who know do not talk;/ those who talk do not know” means that sage does not need to show off their talents.

In Laozi, if a person is true erudite or intelligent, he himself will unify with what he learns and understands; I mean that everything a sage does can show how wise he is—a sage himself is wisdom itself. Laozi himself focuses more on how to live as an erudite person, act as an erudite person rather than talk as an erudite person. Related to Chinese tradition, Laozi prefers people who are humble and low-key but not ostentatious and hard-edged. So, Laozi writes about Dao instead of talking it; he believes that Dao itself is the truth which truly exists and does not need to be publicized by preaching.

2,Confucius’ ideas of Dao focus more on ourselves, but Laozi’s Dao is more receptive, including the rules of everything in the universe. “An educated gentleman cannot but be resolute and broad—minded, for he has taken up a heavy responsibility and a long course. Is it not a heavy responsibility which is to practice benevolence? Is it not a long course, which will end only with his death?” (The Analects).

Confucius thinks that no matter how difficult it is, man can make their will the will of the universe if they perform in the right ritual; that is the reason why Chinese emperor Wu (one of the most ambitious and powerful emperors in Chinese history) of Han dynasty decides to confucianize the whole China.

Unlike Confucius, Laozi thinks that Dao decides what is possible and what is impossible, maybe possible can become impossible, but it should follow the rules of Dao; human being cannot force the impossible become possible. The biggest difference between Laozi and Confucius is that Confucius knows the past, now, but he does not know future, so everyone need to struggle now for future; Laozi knows past, now and future because he knows that everything follows the Dao so he prefers that everyone should enjoys now and does not worry about future because it has already been decided by Dao.


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