The Ancient Wisdom

by Christopher Lovejoy on August 26, 2012

The Tao Te Ching (pronounced Dao Duh Jing) is a book of wisdom that has been translated more than any other volume in the world (with the exception of the Holy Bible).

Many scholars consider this Chinese classic to be the ultimate discourse on the nature of existence, and to this day, continues to serve as a guide to living a peaceful, balanced way of life.

The Tao Te Ching survives in thousands of versions in almost every language, and yet no definitive historical record of its writing exists. No one is even sure that the author is Lao-Tzu.

Of course, we can always assume, as I do.

Wayne Dyer, an American self-help author and motivational speaker, undertook a year-long study of this work, drawing on multiple translations (classic and modern) to produce his own interpretation of this classic text, supplemented by his personal essays, as Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life.

Reference to this study is also made in The Shift, a docudrama that features Dyer speaking at length about the shift from ambition into meaning in the transition between what he poetically calls the morning and the afternoon of life. This shift can happen to anyone at anytime, precipitated by a trauma at age 20; career dissatisfaction at age 30; a mid-life crisis at age 40; the empty nest syndrome at age 50; coping with early retirement at age 60; or feeling less than able at age 70.

Of course, Dyer would be among the first to say that none of this has to happen for the shift to occur.

I’ve never been drawn into Dyer’s earlier work (in the ambition phase of his life), with its emphasis on masterful manifestation and the actualization of Self, although I must say that after watching him in The Shift, I am quite impressed with his grasp of ancient Eastern wisdom in the afternoon of life, where the embrace of meaning and wisdom serve to inspire fresh intentions and desires.

When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change ~ Wayne Dyer

In subsequent posts, I’ll be drawing on the wisdom of Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life to explore in depth each of the 81 verses that comprise the Tao Te Ching, to tease out their implications for personal fulfillment and apply them from within a contemporary, early 21st century context.

Tao is often interpreted as the supreme reality, the Source of All, and The Way. Te is viewed as “the shape and the power” (a reference to how the Tao manifests) and Ching is translated as “book”.

The essence of the Tao Te Ching might be described as a wise guide to finding The Way through the manner in which it manifests, where the most natural person is the most authentically powerful.

In his Preface to Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, Dyer had this to say from his journal at the beginning of his year-long study of the Tao Te Ching:

I feel the Tao with me, always there, always doing nothing, and always leaving absolutely nothing undone. As I’m now Seeing with a capital S, the landscape looks different. The people I See are godly creations who are ignoring their own nature, or even more poignantly, needily interfering in the affairs of others. I have a different perspective now: I feel more peaceful and patient. I keep being reminded of the cyclical nature of the world of the 10,000 things and have powerful insights that change what I see. I know that we humans are like the rest of the natural world and that sadness, fear, frustration, or any troubling feeling cannot last. Nature doesn’t create a storm that never ends. Within misfortune, good fortune hides.

Pregnant with meaning, this perspective looks (and feels) very different from a perspective informed by ambition alone and The Shift brings it to life in the lives of the characters portrayed.

The West is hellbent on finding enemies, waging war on humanity in more ways than you can possibly imagine, overextending its influence, invading personal privacy, overly taxing both income and patience, going so far as to regulate lives and livelihoods to death (quite literally).

The East, in its wisdom and with evergreen hope, is bracing itself, allied in common cause to resisting a New Old World Order that is elitist at its core and Luciferian in its intent. A quiet, deadly war is going on behind the scenes and the fate of humanity is hanging in the balance.

As Dyer makes clear in his Preface, the lessons and the truths of the Tao must be discovered and applied by individuals, one at a time – me, you, and anyone else who can understand and appreciate what it means to allow the truth and the wonder of Being to manifest with ease.

We would do well to find each other, to help each other with a View towards validating, encouraging, and supporting one another with and through the ancient wisdom of the Tao Te Ching.

There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. We all have a choice. You can decide which type of person you want to be. I have always chosen to be in the first group.

~ Mary Kay Ash

Let us not be so intent on making things happen. Rather, let us find balance in letting things be and making them so. May peace and patience inform your thoughts and actions in the afternoon of your life. Next up: “the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao”.


I’ve added a new category (Tao) to facilitate access to this series of posts.

Image credit: yin yang, © umnola –

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