When Lao Tzu says when we achieve something we lose it what does he mean ?
(i) Introduction to Lao Tzu
Laozi (also Lao-Tzu or Lao-Tze) was a philosopher and poet of ancient China. He is best known as the reputed author of the Tao Te Ching and the founder of philosophical Taoism, but he is also revered as a deity in religious Taoism and traditional Chinese religions. Although a legendary figure, he is usually dated to around the 6th century BC and reckoned a contemporary of Confucius.
The Tao Te Ching is a profound Taoism philosophical text and can be viewed in the link here
Philosophical Question of Lao Tzu
In order to get a feel of the philosophy of Lao Tzu, I have gone through one of his questions which is fundamentally about the process of attachment and detachment.
Buddha said when you have reached the place where there is no Buddha then you have reached Nirvana.This statement from Lao Tzu takes us along a similar path.
We must ask what it means to achieve something. It is about applying action. It can then be said to be integrated within us or our sense of self. It involves awareness which may be described as part 1 of 4 types of action which are outlined below:
1. Unconscious & incompetent action
2. Conscious & incompetent action
3. Unconscious & competent action.
4. Conscious & competent action.
So achievement in its most relevant sense gets as far as number 4 when our actions are both conscious & competent.
But achievement also involves detachment and this is indicated in the ‘loss’ side of the equation. In other words it becomes part of our identity to the extent that we can just let go of the process of being aware of it, rather like when we are driving a car.
So complete detachment involves complete attachment
Finally in order to lose something the process may be seen as a circle of two halves, either moving completely away from it or completely becoming it with both arriving at the same point, but perhaps with a different ‘quality’ of awareness in becoming one with it rather than just moving away from it.