Diligence and Discipline


Derek, you have stated that discipline and diligence are congruent with Tao, while indifference and apathy are not in keeping with the Tao as found in Chinese Culture. Can you elaborate on that? Wouldn’t discipline and diligence lead to contrived actions?


Tao sages observe nature, note the way nature works, and then look for correspondence in daily life.

The ancient Chinese were an agrarian society, so their insights tended to come from that perspective. They noted the way plants grew — a little bit every day. From one day to the next, one could not see any difference, but over a period of months, one could definitely see the progress. Over a period of many years, a sapling would become a mighty tree.

This is the pattern everywhere in nature. Even events that seem quite sudden, such as lightning or volcanic eruption, are invariably the result of a gradual buildup of force over time. Far from being exceptions, they prove the rule.

As a plant grows, its growth is not subject to whim. That is, it doesn’t only grow when it feels like growing. It grows consistently and continuously without pause. Is the plant taking contrived action in its growth? No, it is simply being itself, following its nature and fulfilling its potential.

Everything above is mirrored in a long journey (i.e. the journey of a thousand miles). The best way to take on this trip is steady progress, carried out at the natural rate of speed, not too fast and not too slow. The important thing is being consistent. The fable we all know about the tortoise and the hare illustrates the same principle.

This pattern is also reflected in life. To achieve your purpose and fulfill your potential, you also need to take your own journeys of a thousand miles. The best way to proceed is one step at a time, slowly but surely. Keep doing this day after day and before you know it, your dream becomes reality. This is how discipline and diligence gives you real, long-term, measurable benefits — not through contrived actions, but simply by following nature.

Derek Lin
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