Chuang Tzu on Overlooking the Things We Depend On

It seems plausible that man devotes much fascination to the things that lie within his own horizon. But this also means that we overlook many other things. The ancient Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu noticed this more than 2000 years ago.

The following quote deals with this very fact:

"Men honor what lies within the sphere of their knowledge, but do not realize how dependent they are on what lies beyond it."

Chuang Tse

Of course, unfortunately, it's a little difficult to be aware of things you don't know. But that is not what the Daoist was saying either. If we look closely at the statement, we see that he is pointing out that we are not aware enough that there is so much more than what we are aware of and that we rely immensely on these things outside our horizon.

This sounds quite different and much more comprehensible than it might have been when you first read through the quote.

One of the reasons I like the quote so much is that there is a lot of room for interpretation from this point on:

Is it good that we tick like this?
Is it bad?
How can we make ourselves aware of it on a regular basis?
And what do we get out of it?

Let's start three by:

Is it good that we tick like this?

In certain situations I think it is quite good to have this tendency. The reason is that we can concentrate relatively well on our knowledge and our skills and thus have the possibility to use these two things well.

Is it bad?

In most situations, however, I think it's bad not to be aware that there is so much more that goes on beyond our horizon, but on which we depend so much.

I also think that already to wanted to point with his quotation in this direction. To enable us to remember it regularly.

If we do not do this, we have the following problems: the mind becomes increasingly immobile and inert when we move only in familiar waters.
It also helps to show a certain humility when you know what you don't know or according to the also very well known quote already used by Cicero: "I know that I know nothing", about which Luke has already written an article).

How can we make ourselves aware of it on a regular basis?

The list of ways we can regularly make ourselves aware that there are infinite things lying beyond our horizon, but on which we depend, is also infinite. Okay, not infinite, but huge.

Here are a few examples:

  • Set a recurring reminder in your smartphone.

  • Save this pin:

  • Keep yourself busy with new things on a regular basis. This is by far the best way to be naturally reminded that there will always be things you don't know.

And what do we get out of it?

Regularly reminding ourselves that there are things beyond our own horizon can serve as an incentive to learn more. I firmly believe that it is essential to become a lifelong learner. It is now proven by various studies that our brain has a tendency to degenerate as soon as we do not expose ourselves to new stimuli. Standstill here is synonymous with decay. And we should not accept that point. Besides, it is a lot of fun to discover new things and to put together more and more puzzle pieces of the whole - even if we will never know and understand everything.

Moreover, I have more and more the impression that life is incredibly richer when we learn again to fill with wonder and amazement.

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