Mr. Lāng Ông Lost his Horse
In Chinese philosophy, the Yīn-Yāng doctrine is the foundation of Taoism in which it illustrates the harmonious nature of polar opposites. Although many stories can demonstrate the essence of YīnYāng, the parable “Mr. Lãng Ông Lost his Horse” exemplifies it perfectly. In this paper, I will explain Houston Smith and Donna Quesada’s interpretation of the aforementioned parable and provide a critical response of each thought. Lastly, I will expound on my own alternative interpretation using Hegalian dialectics.
Huston Smith is a revered religious studies scholar and has gained prominence with his popular book called The World’s ...view middle of the document...
” While Mr. Lāng Ông perceives the interdependence of these two incidences, the neighbor sees them as independent instances with no relationship.
Smith’s interpretation is sensible in that these instances are interdependent and closely connected. I wholeheartedly agree with his premise, because it becomes inconsistent to say the departure of the horse is bad fortune if the next day the horse returns with two or more horses and now it is perceived to be good fortune. We should not separate these instances since it is impossible to have one without the other. We should see these instances as coexisting elements that are inseparable.
Donna Quesada provides a different viewpoint from Huston Smith, although the idea she introduces is an essential concept within Taoism. After explaining the parable to her Santa Monica College students, she presents the theory of relativity and the importance of it within Taoism. In the parable, the neighbor immediately gives his value judgment, whether good or bad, to each occurrence, while Mr. Lāng Ông shrugs each instance nonchalantly. Relativity emphasizes the importance of measuring and judging situations as good or bad based on their circumstances and in comparison to other situations.
Quesada provides an example in which she incorporates the concept of relativity within the parable. Towards the end of the parable, Mr.Lāng Ông’s son hurts his leg that prevents him from battling in a futile war. When comparing his injury to going to battle, the injury now seems extremely beneficial to the son. It validates the idea that things are good or bad based on the context and how they are valued against other things.
To an extent the concept of relativity is true, however from my perspective it is not absolute. Quesada used an example of a poor person and stated that the poor person is not necessary poor without examining the context of his/her economic condition or comparing his/her economic status with the situations of others. Well, I don’t believe that. If I am dirt poor and consumed by poverty, this fact will not change if it is placed in comparison to someone’s extreme destitution because I am poor regardless. The hunger will not stop, and the emptiness I feel within my stomach will not be fulfilled. It is true that when compared to something worse it may seem less significant, however it does not improve my situation.
The positive aspect of relativity is that it enables an individual to think about the circumstances and contexts deeply. Most people tend to be like the “neighbor” who was haste to make a value judgment without trying to understand the context. It enables a person to step back and view the circumstances from a neutrally holistic and objective way that can lead to comprehensive thought. It removes a person making quick judgments that are usually subjective. Our judgments are often shaped by the culture and environment we were raised and thus, based on influence. Taoism’s relativity gives...