Q&A with Derek Lin

Author of The Tao of Success


What inspired you to write The Tao of Success?

Since the publication of my previous book, The Tao of Daily Life, many readers have asked for a systematic and structured way to cultivate the Tao. It did not take long for me to realize that there was a tremendous amount of interest in this topic, and yet it had never been adequately addressed.


How did you select the stories for the book?

I selected the stories that illustrated the teachings in the most practical, understandable and memorable way. I wanted my readers to easily recall the stories to mind when they encountered real-life situations that required the application of Tao principles.


Many think of Taoism as a philosophy of non-action. How do you reconcile the passive aspects of the Tao with the book’s focus on action and success?

The non-action of Taoism is a Western conception. In the authentic teachings of the East, the Tao is seen as the optimal balance of the passive and the dynamic. This is how sages are able to embody an effortless dynamism, with actions similar to the movements of Tai Chi mastersgraceful, unhurried, and yet extremely effective. The goal of the book is to approach life and destiny in the same way.

The authentic teachings forced me to reconsider the idea that one should have no set goals and just let life happen. This, like the passivity of non-action, was not something taught by the ancient sages. They saw goal-setting as a tool that one could use skillfully, and they encouraged their students to set grand and inspiring goals.


You’ve worked in a variety of fields throughout your professional life. How has the Tao helped you succeed in those fields?

There is one Tao teaching that has helped me succeed in my professional life, and that is the admonition against too much reliance on book knowledge. In every field I have worked in, there is a gap between documentation and reality. Magic happens when one is able to transform the static information on a written page into living, dynamic wisdom through actual hands-on experience.


Which stories have had the most impact on your own success?

Without a doubt, the story "The Farmer and the Hunter" (pg.148) had the most impact on me. It is all about finding solutions by getting into alignment with other peoplea skill that often comes in handy in today's world.


What do you hope readers take away from The Tao of Success?

Rather than for the readers to take something away from The Tao of Success, I hope the book will take them away, on a journeya journey to discover, uplift and ultimately transform the self.


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