One who understands others has knowledge;
one who understands himself has wisdom.
Mastering others requires force;
mastering the self needs strength.
If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.
One who gives himself to his position surely lives long.
One who gives himself to the Tao surely lives forever.
We live in a society where we think that everything is controlled by forces outside ourselves. Our emotional state, our level of success, our happiness, and our worth are all dictated by the world outside.
Power and success are seen as having control over others and possessing certain things. This type of success is short lived and hangs on a knifes edge. As we have seen in a previous verse, things that are forced cannot be sustained. Force causes stress which is weakening. In addition, success that is reliant on others can succumb to the winds of human capriciousness and can be overturned in an instant. This is very evident in the world of celebrity news.
Self-mastery is harder to obtain, but more rewarding, more stable and longer lasting. According to the teachings of the Buddha, wisdom gained in one lifetime passes through towards the next and moves one on the path to enlightenment. Material success passes away and in fact can move one farther away from enlightenment.
Self-mastery is harder because it requires strength and mental fortitude. It is easier to blame others or outside forces for our personal state than it is to master our own mental state in all situations.
The need to master others means that you are seeking value, worth, and validation from others instead of being secure in your self. Your personal state is dictated by how others treat you, how others act, and their state of mind. You live in reactivity to the roller coaster ride of other’s emotions. I know this well because this is the state that I have spent most of my life entwined in.
If instead you are coming from the wisdom of the Tao, you know that you are responsible for your own reactions at any given moment. There is no one outside of yourself that has power over you. You are receiving value, worth, and validation from your own state of being. You realize that you are enough and you have enough already. Other’s needs to control and react do not matter to you anymore.
This is true success. This is true wealth. This is wisdom. This will last lifetimes by putting you in tune with the eternal Tao.
If you work with your mind, you will alleviate all suffering that seems to come from the outside ~ Buddha