Taoist Ethics Essay

Taoist Ethics            Known as the Three Jewels of Tao- compassion, moderation and humility are the basis of Taoist ethics.  They have been defined as, “the three rules that formed the practical, political side of the author’s (Lao Tzu) teaching.”            Compassion, the first Jewel, or kindness comes from the willingness to not only help others, but to empathize with their situations.

  Through this empathetic connection, we learn that all things are one and we are all interconnected- thus this brings courage to us as well as expanding our own sense of identity.            This empathy leads to generosity which, according to Lao Tzu, stems from the second Jewel, moderation.  Moderation, in this sense, means a frugal, modest, non-materialistic existence, and as a result of this a person who follows this lifestyle has more energy to give when he is called upon to help.            Humility, the Third Jewel, goes hand in hand with the moderate lifestyle.   Similar to the words of Jesus in that “the last shall be first”, Lao Tzu states the best way to lead is to quietly be an example and let others gravitate to you.

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  By using this approach, the author points out that this also keeps us out of the line of fire, which in turn keeps us from misfortune and thus helps us achieve our full potential.            This brings us back to the first Jewel, because achieving our full potential allows us to look at others with kindness, thus completing the circle.            No one can embody all of these things all of the time, but Taoist teachings , rather than shaming a person for this seeming failure, instead ascribes to the continual checking of one’s actions and oneself and adjusting them to fit with the wisdom of the Three Jewels.Works CitedYearley, Lee, (1996) “Zhuangzi’s Understanding of Skillfulness and the Ultimate Spiritual State” in Kjellberg Paul and Ivanhoe Philip J, ed. Essays on Skepticism, Relativism and Ethics in the Zhuangzi.

Buffalo: SUNY Series in Chinese Philosophy and Culture.;


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