2017 Confucius Academy Winter Debate Held Experts Discussed Contemporary Significance of Taoist Culture


On December 3, the 2017 Confucius Academy Winter Debate was held at Confucius Academy. Four scholars from Beijing Normal University, Xiamen University, Sichuan Normal University, and Jiangxi Normal University, unfolded the debate on “Taoist Ideas and Social Life”. ZHAN Shichuang, Dean of Lao Tzu Research Institute, Sichuan University, hosted the debate.

ZHANG Weiwen, Director of Chinese Philosophy and Culture Research Institute, Beijing Normal University, holds that how the varied contradictions and conflictions of modern society can be solved requires the mindset “Return to Zero” and the altitude of pure inaction to treat oneself and others. What is said “inner purity is the right way of governance” is the life wisdom that Taoism imparts on modern people.

HUANG Yongfeng, Director of the Religious Teaching and Research Institute, Xiamen University, pointed out, as said in Tao Te Ching “Who understands the world is learned; Who understands the self is enlightened”, it means one should have correct understanding of oneself and apply oneself to return to the internal light. Therefore, on the basis of sustainment and action, one should be self-knowing without self-display, walking on the broad path.

YANG Yan, Professor of Philosophy of Sichuan Normal University, considers that “Rule a big country as you would fry small fish” in Chapter 60 in the Tao Te Ching is to master the “timing”, that is, to master the “balance” and “border”. There are so many desires and lures during one’s life, so Lao Tzu warns people “to know where to stop”, to know where the boundary is, and to reach the finest state of cultivating morality by constant self-reflection and self-improvement.

Associate Professor ZENG Yong with Jiangxi Normal University School of Marxism pointed out that, people should know how to follow the nature with combination of the life at present. There is one basic starting point, that is, to start from oneself. Firstly, to follow the right paths without violation against laws and rules. That is to say, people should follow the natural laws, social laws, and the laws for self-existence and self-development, of which all are the right paths. Secondly, self-adaptation to one’s nature, that is, not to blindly make unrealistic comparison. One should be the best of oneself according to his/her own nature. Finally, it’s to set up correct “morality” to carry forward on the right path. One should not only pay attention to one’s own moral uplift without thought of others, but also expand outward the vitality of life by working with sincerity and excluding return of fame and gain so as to lead a natural and unrestrained life.

After the debate, Host ZHAN Shichuang concluded that the essence of Taoist culture may be summarized as “Life”. That is to say, Taoism tells about life with the purpose to study, care, and maintain life. At the meantime, the core values of Taoism may be reduced to five words “Nature, Morality, Kindness, Purity, Tranquility”, which still remains very significant to the life at present.