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The Tao for Engineers

Updated on March 28, 2010

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Taoism is an old Chinese philosophy about masterful skill at large.

I enjoy reading the Stephen Mitchell's English translation of the ages old Chinese classic Tao-Te-Ching.

On this page I have applied its verses to engineering work. I hope that you enjoy the point of view here...

From Tao-Te-Ching chapter 9.:

Going to extremes in the detailed demands of the work

makes you lose touch with the ground for the work so that

you will ruin your chances of success in your work.

Following rules at the cost of everything else

makes you so exhausted that you will fail to follow them.

Chasing after money and control

strangles the persons doing the work and so the work fails.

Following slave like the wishes of your bosses

makes you lose touch with your own understanding

and so ruins you as a worker.

Do your very best freely

and let go of the scrap about social position in the eyes of the average minds.

That is the only road to lasting success and to the serenity brought by it.

From Tao-Te-Ching chapter 11.:

We follow rules to get things done

but it is our free time which brings strength to what we do.

We use pictures to think with

but it is the enjoyable atmospheres which show us the road to success.

We build machines

but it is their worth to life itself that makes them worth anything.

We count things by benefit

but it is the felt things in our nature that are the most proven to be the most beneficial.

From Tao-Te-Ching chapter 12.:

Learned structures make us stuck to old habits, like idiots.

Ununderstood advices make us lose touch with our own understanding.

Point scores make us unable to follow our full understanding in guiding our actions.

Trying to make things look like fine thoughts makes us unrealistical. If we would just let go of thinking and relax, our perception abilities would be freed and we would think much clearer and quicker.

Aiming for some predecided goal makes you lie to yourself. Much better would be to just admit what one knows, for how certain and what one has no idea about.

You reach masterful skill by using your whole capacity in natural ways that have been optimized by the evolution. So your instinctual sense of what ought to be, for example about way of living and consequently about way of working, can be your most valuable guide to proper objectivity. The master takes perceptions as they are, claiming no more and no less that what one sincerely has observed. The master does not mix expectations or social position to one’s perceptions about the reality.


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    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Very interesting Hub.

      Love and peace


    • Money Glitch profile image

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Interesting thoughts on Tao and engineering. Thanks for sharing and Congrats on being nominated to the HubNuggets Wannabe Contest for this week.

    • rebekahELLE profile image


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay

      what a beautiful hub of wisdom. I enjoy reading the Tao and I love how you have applied it to engineering. what a great line, 'you reach masterful skill by using your whole capacity in natural ways that have been optimized by evolution.' thanks for sharing.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Congratulations to your Hubnugget Nomination! This way to the Hubnuggets. Be sure to vote and promote your hub too. Enjoy the Hubnuggets!

    • Gaian profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      I am happy that you like my thoughts. Please see also my page since it is roughly about the same subject.

    • Miss Belgravia profile image


      8 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Much wisdom here. I'm going to bookmark this and contemplate it again. Your hub speaks to much of what is going on in my life at the moment -- thank you for sharing.


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