Knowing other people is intelligence,
knowing yourself is wisdom.
Overcoming others takes strength,
overcoming yourself takes greatness.
Contentment is wealth.
Boldly pushing forward takes resolution.
Staying put keeps you in position.
To live till you die
is to live long enough.
Doesn’t get much clearer than this, but I think this poem represents an important example of what the Tao Te Ching is demonstrating for us. Many of the poems look outward into the world. They describe leadership, power, and so on. But then we get these poems that ask us to consider ourselves. To turn to a mirror and consider who and what we are.
Who we want to be. How we want to relate to the world.
I think the Tao is fundamentally a text about change and how to live in the world, which is everchanging. What we see, most often, is that change begins with the personal. And the goal is not to change the world around us by changing ourselves, but to change so we fall back into the rhythm of nature, of the Way. By following the Way, by living in harmony, in peace, in balance, we become changed. And in so doing, we demonstrate the Tao.
In demonstrating the Tao, people will follow. Humanity will change, even if only on a very small, and personal level.