Harmony is Absent When Preaching is Involved

cc image by daz smith on Flickr

cc image by daz smith on Flickr

Reflections on Chapter 18 of the Tao Te Ching:

When the Great Tao is forgotten,
Kindness and morality appear.

When intellect and knowledge are emphasized,
there is great hypocrisy in the heart.

Family is no longer in harmony
When there is preaching of duty and affection.

The nation is in disorder
When patriotic loyalty is admired.

I thought this chapter was great! It talks about something that I have always kind of noticed but I have really didn’t have the words for. One of the things that I think is so cool about the Tao Te Ching is that he has such a way with capturing concepts. What’s cool about this one is that he talks about how when there is kindness and morality, the Great Tao is forgotten. That is often what I have felt about religious principles. Christianity teaches that it is really important to be kind and proper and there is something not kind about how some people do that. These behaviors are two sides of a coin. It seems the more kind and proper you are, the more you are really not very kindhearted, really.

Some Christians have a superior attitude about kindness and morality, like everyone else is not moral or kind. The energy of how people are with this attitude is not very kind energy. People think they are being one way but they are actually  not being that way. They think they are, but just by the very nature of the way they are responding shows that they are not.

So I think it is important to just observe your behavior. We all do these things. Everyone. If you say that you don’t do these things, then you have a different problem! lol… It is human nature to want to be good and to want to compete with other people. I think that’s very normal. At least in the U. S., it is. We’ve learned this from childhood. We’ve been brought up with games and sports and competition. Success is often times defined by what you do and how you do compared to other people.

When I was in high school, I used to often compare myself to other people with my grades. At one point, I got a little frustrated because I was doing really well and I looked around and it just felt too easy and I was way ahead. It wasn’t fun anymore. So I learned very early on not to compare myself to other people because sometimes it will hold you back from doing well. I had started slacking in my grades because I just kinda gave up trying and I was disappointed in myself.  Once I realized what I was doing, I changed my tactics and it worked. I still did well in school, but I had more fun with it because I started learning new stuff for fun instead of as a comparison. It just didn’t matter anymore. I competed against myself instead. I gave myself little challenges to meet and then met them. I have been doing that ever since. (Although I must admit I still do love a bit of healthy competition!)

So how on earth does all of this relate? (I often ask myself! 🙂 ) Well, I think if we are natural in our approach – if we recognize that we are all part of a bigger picture and we all have unique and beautiful talents, there is no need for this pious competition of being more pure, honest, brave, smart, moral, fill-in-the-blank… just love each other. Love how your friend is a great athelete and you kinda suck at it. Love how your daughter is a reading genius and that’s her thing. Love how your boss is really good at golf. (I have no idea on that one – I just made it up.) And most importantly, love yourself. Love yourself for being YOU and for having the unique and fabulous talents you have.

So what do you think of all of this? What do you think about morality and kindness? What are your thoughts on competition?  Please share your comments in the space below!


This post is part of my contribution to the Ultimate Blog Challenge. If you are part of that challenge, please say hello and I will check out your blog as well! If you are a blogger and are not a part of the challenge, it is worth a look! It’s a great opportunity to share and be shared.

If you like what you are reading, please SHARE this post through one of the buttons at the top of this post! 




  1. What an interesting and timely post – particularly with the political scene as it is around the world. I really enjoyed your personal interpretation as it relates to comparisons to others and how the whole idea of telling others how to be kind is hypocritical.
    Nanette Levin recently posted…Would you believe the most effective sales people are introverts?My Profile

  2. I’m really glad I happened to read this this morning! I’ve been thinking about essentially this a lot lately. I like competition when it comes to things like horse shows, but more important than winning is remaining friends with everyone and be able to help each other out at the end of the day. The only real competition I feel is with myself, to be better than I was the day before. It’s always confused me as to why people see kindness as a competition.

    Thanks for the great post this morning!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Jes. I like competition too. I think that it is great to challenge us to be our best as long as we don’t get too aggressive with it and make it more about beating the other person than doing well. There is a subtle and yet very different approach to those two ways of dealing with it. As with anything, if we catch ourselves making a mistake – it is important not to come down on ourselves but to recognize the pattern for what it is and just move on.

  3. We all fall into habits sometimes of taking the “moral high road”. I find Lao Tzu’s interpretations of leaders to be particularly interesting as he tends to toss our modern experiences of it to the wind! It has been quite revelatory to study this text in that way. Thanks for your continuing support, Nanette. It is inspiring!

  4. Lovely, Amy. I have a “no compete” clause in my personal life rules. I’d rather admire than be envious. 😀
    Arwen recently posted…Leap, Attack & BreatheMy Profile

  5. Hi, Amy 🙂 I have seen this not only with Christians, but other religions as well. I was raised by a family that turned to religion and they were very preachy for the first several years (my early teen years, couldn’t have been worst timing for me.) This alienated me and made me both fear it and back away from it.
    Kelly recently posted…Love those fears! (they mean well)My Profile

    • Yes, Kelly, I think that this is not just a Christian trait – it is shared by all people – myself included! Although I try not to be that way, I think that it is a process of recognizing it and moving on. Forgiveness of ourselves and others for what we do not know in that moment.

  6. Pingback: 18 – Hypocrisy

  7. Pingback: CHAPTER 18 – GOOD AND EVIL

  8. Hi Amy,

    I love the title of your reflection on this chapter. Harmony is indeed absent when preaching is present. Preachers move a lot of air, but it doesn’t bother the air. I also appreciate your ability to clearly relate the substance of each chapter to real-life conditions. That’s a gift.

    I have moved a bit of air around, but not, I hope, very much in my reflection of Chapter 18 at http://cascadianwanderer.wordpress.com/tao-te-ching/tao-te-ching-chapter-18/

    Thank you, Amy. Bob

  9. The heart speaks
    The culture must move away from competition and teach cooperation
    The time is now

  10. Thank you Amy, I was just dwelling on this subject. We are kindness. We are virtue. Our true natures do not have to be told to “act” that way. Heartfelt actions are the way of the Tao. Unfortunately, we compare our kindness & virtue with that of fellow human beings and the slide away from our true nature begins. It is difficult to move away from the moral dictates others and ourselves place upon ourselves. Kindness is always a good thing, how much better when we allow it to flow from our true nature. Obviously, something that comes from the inside out, it cannot be legislated.

    • You make some good points here, John. If we forget about what others require of us and what that silly critic asks of us, and just do what is natural – all will be well. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Pingback: Tao Tuesdays: Chapter 18

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge