Lenten Observance: Day 33

Tao 65 & 66

65: “The ancient Mastesrs didn’t try to educate the people, but kindly taught them to not-know.”  “When they think that they know the answers, people are difficult to guide…” 

When I was in HS, and for some time afterwards, there were teachers who said that their job was not to teach us the material, but rather to teach us to be questioning and skeptical.  The best example of this, in a fictional setting, is Prof. Kingsfield in The Paper Chase, who says “You teach yourself the law, but I train your minds…”  It is more than that, as lawyers are taught to question things in order to win a case;  this is more a case of teaching people how to be comfortable with not-knowing so that we can patiently seek truth.  When people think they know the truth, their minds are not open.  They are closed to any other arguments.  Even if they listen to other POV, they do so in order to rebut the arguments, rather than actively listening.  This chapter argues for the latter.  I know that I’m sometimes guilty of this — I hate uncertainty, and sometimes I’ll jump on certainty which ends up being in error rather than patiently enduring unti the truth comes forth…

66:  Here we seem to have two different ideas — “if you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them…” and “The Master is above the people, and no one feels oppressed.”  The first statement is often touted by politicians, attempting to convince people that they are “one of you.”  And it is a rhetorical ploy — I remember that Cicero would often use the Latin equivalent of “they say” to raise a point, even though he really got the idea from some philosopher.  Touting his educational acumen would not advance his case.  Of course, the Tao doesn’t seem to be arguing that point, but rather speaking of humble leadership such as one sees in the Dalai Lama or some other religious leaders.  The second point seems to contradict the first, but I guess the author is suggesting that a leader is a leader (hence “above the people”) but doesn’t use the trappings of power (as some dictator might) and so the people accept the leader’s position as someone wiser, and someone inviting us to follow his/her example.

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