Ancient Story, Modern Message: Opinions

Long ago, a scholar was searching for the Tao. He had read every book, yet still he didn’t feel satisfied. The scholar decided to visit Master Laozi. He meditated to clear his mind in preparation for his long journey. But upon walking into the Master’s home, the scholar saw clothes and books strewn around the room. The man was taken aback by what he saw. “This looks like a farmer’s market; this is not the way of the Tao.” the scholar thought. “I must be in the wrong place.”

He then encountered Master Laozi and said, “Master, your home is not the image of what you teach. How can you live with this mess when you teach others to be pure of heart and mind?” Laozi did not answer. Instead, he simply smiled and turned away. The scholar was angry and left in a huff.

Many weeks went by and the scholar was still upset by his meeting with Master Laozi. He replayed their conversation over and over in his head. Although he felt misled by Laozi’s mixed messages, he realized that he was rude and needed to apologize. The scholar found himself again at Laozi’s home. “Master, forgive me. I was rude in how I spoke to you,” he said. Laozi simply smiled and replied, “Your opinions are just your opinions. They don’t impact who I am.”

Modern Message

The story of the interaction between the scholar and Laozi helps us to realize the value and impact of other people’s opinions on our emotions. Sure, Laozi could have gotten angry at the scholar, but that would have been a waste of his Qi. After all, emotions are simply another form of Qi.

Other people’s opinions don’t change who you are. So why should their thoughts and opinions impact your emotions?