Founded by Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu (meaning: ‘The Old Master’) 2,500 years ago and developed by Chuang Tzu and Haai Nan Tzu. The Tao means ‘The Way’,ie: the substance/creator of all things. Today Taoism has approximately 30 million followers mainly in China and South East Asia. It is a non-dogmatic philosophy based upon the book by Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (meaning: The Way and its Power). It is up to each person to find ‘’The Way’, the energy of the Universe, the path of the Universe. If you picture life as a river, you are no different from the river, you are the river, if you obstruct the flow of the river you fight the irresistible force of the Tao current creating imbalance and disharmony in your life.

 

Major Concepts:

 

Wu Wei: meaning: ‘Non-Doing or ‘Non-Action’ or, more accurately, right action in accordance with The Way and not being attached to the results of our actions. Action by non-action, by not trying to fight the characteristics of who we are, our own intuition, handle what comes up in front of us, don’t dwell on the past and be in the flow of the Universe. The only way to understand the Tao is through the intuition (Tzu-Jan: literally the laws of nature)), this attitude does not discriminate but responds immediately and spontaneously.

 

Simplicity: it is best to be simple, modest, humble, and non-ambitious and go with the flow of the natural order – the Tao, as the Taoists say: ‘Having less or more’.

 

Spontaneity: be spontaneous, react to the situation in front of you, life is a moment by moment experience, so be in that moment. Don’t spend your energy regretting the past or fearing the future.

 

Managing Desires in Small Steps (Kaizen): Lao Tzu, affirms that people who take less will always have more. People with insatiable desires end up becoming obsessed with the object of their “affection” which tends to throw their energies, and their thought processes, out of control. To Lao Tzu, greed without limits constituted the worse of the vices. If you work towards being content with what you have, you would find that you already have enough to be happy. One can easily reach Peace of Spirit when you limit the amount of desires to manifest in your life. Lao Tzu says: “The sage does not hoard. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself, the more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The Way of Heaven does one good but never does one harm. The Way of the Sage is to act but not to compete.” But how do you get to this point of detachment from desires when modern society is pushing indulgence constantly? Taoism advises that it is always better to deal with facts and situations while they are small, before they become bigger and more difficult.  If one is planning to reach a big goal, one should establish a series of small steps that would guide one safely to the destination.  This is essentially the principal of Kaizen: progress through small increments. As Lao Tzu says: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

 

God: little discussion of God as He/She/It is undefinable, not understandable by humans – so why waste time discussing these questions endlessly? Don’t get in the way of the Tao by indulging in such intellectual debates. Some Taoists believe in God, some are atheists, some followers of other religions.

 

The Three Treasures: Sexual Energy, Spiritual Energy, and Emotional Energy – being in tune with these energies allows you to be with the Tao.

 

Yin and Yang: the Taoist symbol shows that there is always light and darkness, male and female energy, spirit and earth. Yang is the active principle and Yin, the principle of rest or stillness. The interaction of these two principles engenders the phenomenal world which is relative and changing unlike the permanent Tao from whence it is derived.

 

Hierarchy of Forces: the highest is the unmanifest Tao, next the primordial Chaos, next the Three Officials or Three Heavenly Worthies/Pure Ones -The first Pure One is universal or heavenly chi (life energy). The second Pure One is human plane chi, and the third Pure One is earth chi. Next comes a vast array of Gods inhabiting the nine heavens, followed by demons, humans, animals, etc. These need to be placated and kept in balance through rituals, meditation, and the control of earthly desires thus enabling a person to manifest the Tao in their lives. When this happens, you achieve:

 

Immortality (Chen-Jen, or ‘true human’): goal of all Taoists. This is not necessarily the preservation of the body but the achievement of spiritual enlightenment or Transcendence. Taoists believe that there are many men and women that have achieved such Immortality and that it is perfectly possible to become one if you follow Hygiene and Dietary Disciplines, Breathing techniques, Circulation of the ‘Inner Breath’, Sexual self-control, Moral actions and attitudes.

 

Buddhist Concepts: Karma, Reincarnation, Monasticism and Celibacy derived essentially from Buddhism are accepted by many Taoists.

 

Sects: Taoism developed gradually into a fully religious movement in the second century AD with the Way of the Great Peace (Tai-p’ing Tao) and the Way of the Celestial Masters (Tien-Shih Tao). In the fourth century AD the Mao-Shan sect and the Ling-Pao sects evolved which concentrated on immortality and end-of-the-world predictions. Since then many other sects, rituals and forms of Taoist magic have developed. The White Cloud Monastery in Beijing is a fully functional Taoist temple and is the seat of the Chinese Taoist Association. Taoism survives strongest in Taiwan where priests receive ordination from the Celestial Master, they conduct exorcisms, healing, community services of thanks-giving, inauguration of temples, training of Taoist priests , etc.

 

In essence, Taoism encourages us to go with the flow of life, having non-action in your life, acceptance, don’t dwell on the past, don’t worry endlessly about the future – live life, be happy, be kind to others and yourself – including your flaws, your history – these are all aspects of the Tao – decide what you are going to do right Now!