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Taoism 3 Essay Research Paper Taoism which

Taoism 3 Essay, Research Paper Taoism, which is pronounced Daoism , is based on the Tao, or the Way. One of the basic observations was that the Way of nature, and nature itself is difficult to determine. Taoism can be described as a religion, but in the West it carries with it many gods, deities, morals, and faith, Taoism does not quite cut it as a religion by Western terms.

Taoism 3 Essay, Research Paper

Taoism, which is pronounced Daoism , is based on the Tao, or the Way. One of the basic observations was that the Way of nature, and nature itself is difficult to determine. Taoism can be described as a religion, but in the West it carries with it many gods, deities, morals, and faith, Taoism does not quite cut it as a religion by Western terms. It is probably best described as a philosophy of life, but even this, when defined, does not describe Taoism completely. The problem is that Taoism cannot be categorized, like the Tao itself. This religion is described in the very ancient, and very cincise socio-political treatise called the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. For most people it can be rather confusing. To understand most of the meaning, you must be aware of the context in which this book was written, as well as to have a basic understanding of Eastern philosophy, with its use of analogy, mythology, metaphor, and paradox.

Taoism is not for everyone, but for a special kind of person, even though anyone can benefit from it. Those who are ready to question what they have been taught find the true benefit in Taoism. The more one learns of Taoism, the more they learn they must question it. It is a nature-based philosophy; it starts and ends with the observation of nature. This religion observes nature from one’s own viewpoint. It sees the observer and the observed as one entire system. This is the first principle of Taoism, Oneness. There is not just us or just nature, but both. Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao. It springs into existence, unconscious, perfect, free; takes on a physical body, lets circumstances complete it. That is why every being spontaneously honors the Tao. The Tao gives birth to all beings, nourishes them, cares for them, maintains them, comforts them, protects them, takes them back to itself, creating without possessing, acting without expecting, guiding without interfering. That is why love of the Tao is in the very nature of things.

The second principle of Taoism is of Dynamic Balance. There are always two basic distinctions in nature, symbolized by the yin and the yang, but Taoism sees balance as the basic characteristic underlying these distinctions. The Tao is the One. From the One come the yin and yang, these two are creative energy. From this energy comes the forms of all creation. All life embodies yin and embraces yang. When they are united, you achieve harmony. These two basic polarities not only balance each other, but also complement each other in cycles.

The Yin-yang is made up of five elements. Here the elements were presented to numbers: one being water, two being fire, three as wood, four as metal, and five as earth. These were not just substances or chemical phenomena but represented instead the principle cosmic forces or influences and headings. All phenomena like the seasons, directions, flavors, foodstuffs, the body, and human activities could be classified under one of the five phases. Earth was central and neutral; the four other elements corresponded to the four directions and to the four seasons and were further classified as either yin or yang. Spring and summer were both yang and were represented to wood and east; fire and south; fall and winter were yin and corresponded to metal and west, water and north. The five elements were also symbolized by the five fundamental colors: water is equal with black, fire with red, wood with green, metal with white, and earth with yellow. Added to this symbolism were four animals, which often appeared in representations of sacred space: the dragon to the east, the red bird to the south, the white tiger to the west, and the tortoise with a snake around it, to the north.

The third principle of Taoism is Cyclical Growth. The sun is replaced by the moon then the moon is replaced by the sun. Summer is replaced by winter then winter is replaced by summer. Light is replaced by dark then dark is replaced by light. Everywhere in nature, you will see these basic cycles. Taoists believe that because these seemingly opposite polarities are actually balanced and work together through cycles, you can actually produce one from the other. This sort of behavior is the fourth principle of Taoism, Harmonious Action. This means that weakness produces strength, and strength produces weakness. Through these four basic principles of nature, there are several derived ethical suggestions, which make up the bulk of the Tao Te Ching. The unique thing about the Taoist approach to ethics is that they are not designed to preach to people about how to live.

One thing basic to the Taoist is a redefinition of self or ego. Taoists believe that the way we try to stand outside ourselves in the attempt of self-observation is the source of most of our unhappiness and loneliness. In order to observe as such, we must see our self as separate from other selves. The goal of Taoism in not to destroy the ego. The goal instead is to keep our attention on the greater whole, the process to which there is a pattern, which is known to always return the source.

The Tao is infinite, or eternal. It is eternal because it was never born therefore is can never die. It is eternal because it has no desires therefore it is present for all beings. Another thing that is a basic belief of Taoism is that limitations are everywhere. The ideal of unlimited freedom is an illusion. Maximum freedom is experienced when one is in the middle between the upper bound and lower bound limitations. Then one has the maximum range in which to change his behavior. This is the Taoist ethic of freedom through moderation.

Fear is a basic feature of living things. By being afraid, one keeps himself away from danger. The universe is still a great mystery to everyone, and much of life is taken up with dealing with this mystery. Living your life in an environment, which you know nothing about. But Taoists take a different approach, they embrace the mystery. They enjoy every confusion and misunderstanding and mysterious thing they see. To them, life is a game and games are not fun without the possibility of winning or losing. Mystery is what makes games fun, and to Taoists, mystery is what makes life fun. For this reason, Taoists still retain their basic fear. They balance their fear with their curiosity to seek the true potential of their existence. They look within themselves and see all that they don t understand and they like it that way.

The Tao Te Ching describes the results of various behaviors, based on the four principles of nature. It goes on to warn those who preach, or try to tell you how to live. It warns against contrived or consciously manipulated people. Because nature is dynamic, and contrived morals are stiff, contrived morals go against nature. The purpose for these morals are usually for greater control, either for yourself or for others. By dictating your morals, other people feel a sense of control over you life and you also dictate you own morals.

Because there are two polarities overriding all existence, to attach to one or the other would be to misunderstand them. By nature they are inseparable, to have one, you have to have the other. The Tao Te Ching often teaches detachment for this reason. Attachment can come in several forms, just as the yin and yang come in several forms. Some of the forms you can be attached to are life, knowledge, action, and most general of all you can be attached to the being.

The Tao Te Ching teaches that learning is a part of life, but what you learn doesn t belong to you. It also teaches that life and death are cycles of nature. One day something is allowed to live and the next day it dies. One thing lives at the expense of another, and this creates a chain of dependence of one species upon another. Taoists believe that laziness is the enemy, and that playing gives purpose to work. They also teach that you should honor your enemy in order to humble yourself in knowing that you will never win, but that does not mean it quit. You should continue to play with honor and fairness. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, you can deal with whatever life brings you and when death comes, you are ready. Humility is another basic principle of the Tao. It means to commit yourself from moment to moment. Success happens every moment that you do this.

In order to understand the logic of Taoism, you must start with a very basic saying; the world is constantly changing. This saying must be understood and believed before anyone can begin to understand the logic of Taoism. The reason for this is that many thousands of years ago, brilliant Chinese philosophers observed nature very closely, and noticing this simple saying. They developed Taoism, Zen, and many other Eastern philosophies, all of which are part of the saying. If you do not agree with the saying, you will disagree with Taoism or any other Eastern philosophies.

There have been many English versions of Tao Te Ching. Unfortunately most contain incorrect translations or mistakes. Mush of this results from the difficulty in understanding ancient Chinese. It is completely different from modern Chinese so that even native speakers have trouble understanding certain passages. Only a few translations of the book are close to perfect, but there are no translations that are completely perfect.

Some people question if Taoism is a Religion. Taoism certainly has a religious aspect. Many Christians freely explore the concepts of Taoism. Some even add whatever they think is useful to their own beliefs. The idea is to explore and learn the correct way or the better way to live and to conduct our personal affairs by understanding some of the principles that govern our lives.

The number of people worldwide who consider themselves Taoists is somewhat small, about thirty million, compared to about three hundred million Buddhists. Wherever the Chinese people have gone, they have taken Taoism with them. This is why elements of Taoism appear in many of the countries that came under Chinese influence over the centuries. Taoism has also had a strong influence on Chinese literature and on the technique and subject matter of Chinese art. It has been estimated that the number of Taoists is growing larger and larger every year.

Taoism reaches not only into the intellectual and spiritual lives of its followers but also into their physical life. It sees the physical body as a kind of a miniature model of the universe. It also believes that a healthy body is a necessary first step to achieving a high spiritual state. Taoism has long been associated with certain medicinal and nutritional practices. Taoist masters have recorded the medicinal uses of thousands of plants, trees, herbs, flowers, fruits, and fungi, and also studied nutrition. The masters recommended a balanced diet to maintain health and to promote longevity. For example, broccoli to the Taoists is a good food, but a diet that consists of only broccoli is not good because it is not balanced, and balance is the Taoist way. Meditation is often associated with Buddhism and other faiths from India. Long before Buddhism came to China, Taoists were using a form of meditation to help them come into harmony with the ultimate reality of the universe. The concept of non-doing is central to Taoist meditation.

Taoists believe that time spent in meditation prolongs life. In Taoists belief, longevity is important because the longer one lives, the greater one s chances are of achieving perfect harmony with Tao. The perfect person might hope to become immortal and rise to heaven, not just in spirit but physically as well.

Over the centuries, the threads of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism have become intertwined, each absorbing aspects of the others. As the Chinese say, The three teachings flow into one. This blending of traditions is consistent with the Asian approach to religion, which allows for believing in more than one truth. Many people who consider themselves Chinese Buddhists or Confucianists, as well as many people who claim that no one can know whether a god exists but who do not deny the possibility of that existence, but also practice the aspects of Taoism. Such practice is possible because the traditions do not conflict, but complement one another.

Taoists have never made an attempt to spread their religion. Travelers and wanderers, but never missionaries, they do not visit other countries to win converts. Taoist masters prefer to let students come to them and to counsel them one on one. Many early masters did gather followers, and for that reason, many sects resulted. Taoists tend to see the different interpretations of their beliefs as part of the infinite variety of the universe rather than as right or wrong. Over the centuries, Taoism has had many masters and many interpretations.

Taoism shares with Confucianism and Buddhism many of the characteristics that make them different from Western religions. Like Buddhists and Confucianists, Taoists do not attend regularly scheduled worship services or make statements of faith. There is no specific creed to which they they must contribute towards. While there are many traditional observances and rituals, there are none in which a follower must participate in order to be a Taoist. Unlike followers of Christianity or Islam or Judaism, Taoists, Buddhists, and Confucianists do not believe in a supreme being or in the immortality of the soul. Believers in Western traditions are concerned with the love of people for God, but religion in China has long concerned itself with practical moral behavior and self-improvement. Taoism provides guidance for living a moral life and attempts to explain the place of human beings in the natural universe. Some of Taoism s ancient practices for health and serenity attract followers of their own.

Taoism accommodates many points of view and practices. Taoist monks and nuns may retreat from the world and live in monasteries, trying to achieve spiritual perfection and become one with Tao. Taoist priests may live and work among the people, performing ancient rituals for health, prosperity, and redemption from sin. Some individuals may follow a particular Taoist practice such as meditation, or they may pursue and interest in Chinese medicine. Others may follow the religious rituals of Taoism in their homes, lighting incense to the spirits of their ancestors and the Taoist gods. All of these people consider themselves Taoists. They are all part of the living religion, examples of its vitality and strength.

Taoism, which is pronounced Daoism , is based on the Tao, or the Way. One of the basic observations was that the Way of nature, and nature itself is difficult to determine. Taoism can be described as a religion, but in the West it carries with it many gods, deities, morals, and faith, Taoism does not quite cut it as a religion by Western terms. It is probably best described as a philosophy of life, but even this, when defined, does not describe Taoism completely. The problem is that Taoism cannot be categorized, like the Tao itself. This religion is described in the very ancient, and very cincise socio-political treatise called the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. For most people it can be rather confusing. To understand most of the meaning, you must be aware of the context in which this book was written, as well as to have a basic understanding of Eastern philosophy, with its use of analogy, mythology, metaphor, and paradox.

Taoism is not for everyone, but for a special kind of person, even though anyone can benefit from it. Those who are ready to question what they have been taught find the true benefit in Taoism. The more one learns of Taoism, the more they learn they must question it. It is a nature-based philosophy; it starts and ends with the observation of nature. This religion observes nature from one’s own viewpoint. It sees the observer and the observed as one entire system. This is the first principle of Taoism, Oneness. There is not just us or just nature, but both. Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao. It springs into existence, unconscious, perfect, free; takes on a physical body, lets circumstances complete it. That is why every being spontaneously honors the Tao. The Tao gives birth to all beings, nourishes them, cares for them, maintains them, comforts them, protects them, takes them back to itself, creating without possessing, acting without expecting, guiding without interfering. That is why love of the Tao is in the very nature of things.

The second principle of Taoism is of Dynamic Balance. There are always two basic distinctions in nature, symbolized by the yin and the yang, but Taoism sees balance as the basic characteristic underlying these distinctions. The Tao is the One. From the One come the yin and yang, these two are creative energy. From this energy comes the forms of all creation. All life embodies yin and embraces yang. When they are united, you achieve harmony. These two basic polarities not only balance each other, but also complement each other in cycles.

The Yin-yang is made up of five elements. Here the elements were presented to numbers: one being water, two being fire, three as wood, four as metal, and five as earth. These were not just substances or chemical phenomena but represented instead the principle cosmic forces or influences and headings. All phenomena like the seasons, directions, flavors, foodstuffs, the body, and human activities could be classified under one of the five phases. Earth was central and neutral; the four other elements corresponded to the four directions and to the four seasons and were further classified as either yin or yang. Spring and summer were both yang and were represented to wood and east; fire and south; fall and winter were yin and corresponded to metal and west, water and north. The five elements were also symbolized by the five fundamental colors: water is equal with black, fire with red, wood with green, metal with white, and earth with yellow. Added to this symbolism were four animals, which often appeared in representations of sacred space: the dragon to the east, the red bird to the south, the white tiger to the west, and the tortoise with a snake around it, to the north.

The third principle of Taoism is Cyclical Growth. The sun is replaced by the moon then the moon is replaced by the sun. Summer is replaced by winter then winter is replaced by summer. Light is replaced by dark then dark is replaced by light. Everywhere in nature, you will see these basic cycles. Taoists believe that because these seemingly opposite polarities are actually balanced and work together through cycles, you can actually produce one from the other. This sort of behavior is the fourth principle of Taoism, Harmonious Action. This means that weakness produces strength, and strength produces weakness. Through these four basic principles of nature, there are several derived ethical suggestions, which make up the bulk of the Tao Te Ching. The unique thing about the Taoist approach to ethics is that they are not designed to preach to people about how to live.

One thing basic to the Taoist is a redefinition of self or ego. Taoists believe that the way we try to stand outside ourselves in the attempt of self-observation is the source of most of our unhappiness and loneliness. In order to observe as such, we must see our self as separate from other selves. The goal of Taoism in not to destroy the ego. The goal instead is to keep our attention on the greater whole, the process to which there is a pattern, which is known to always return the source.

The Tao is infinite, or eternal. It is eternal because it was never born therefore is can never die. It is eternal because it has no desires therefore it is present for all beings. Another thing that is a basic belief of Taoism is that limitations are everywhere. The ideal of unlimited freedom is an illusion. Maximum freedom is experienced when one is in the middle between the upper bound and lower bound limitations. Then one has the maximum range in which to change his behavior. This is the Taoist ethic of freedom through moderation.

Fear is a basic feature of living things. By being afraid, one keeps himself away from danger. The universe is still a great mystery to everyone, and much of life is taken up with dealing with this mystery. Living your life in an environment, which you know nothing about. But Taoists take a different approach, they embrace the mystery. They enjoy every confusion and misunderstanding and mysterious thing they see. To them, life is a game and games are not fun without the possibility of winning or losing. Mystery is what makes games fun, and to Taoists, mystery is what makes life fun. For this reason, Taoists still retain their basic fear. They balance their fear with their curiosity to seek the true potential of their existence. They look within themselves and see all that they don t understand and they like it that way.

The Tao Te Ching describes the results of various behaviors, based on the four principles of nature. It goes on to warn those who preach, or try to tell you how to live. It warns against contrived or consciously manipulated people. Because nature is dynamic, and contrived morals are stiff, contrived morals go against nature. The purpose for these morals are usually for greater control, either for yourself or for others. By dictating your morals, other people feel a sense of control over you life and you also dictate you own morals.

Because there are two polarities overriding all existence, to attach to one or the other would be to misunderstand them. By nature they are inseparable, to have one, you have to have the other. The Tao Te Ching often teaches detachment for this reason. Attachment can come in several forms, just as the yin and yang come in several forms. Some of the forms you can be attached to are life, knowledge, action, and most general of all you can be attached to the being.

The Tao Te Ching teaches that learning is a part of life, but what you learn doesn t belong to you. It also teaches that life and death are cycles of nature. One day something is allowed to live and the next day it dies. One thing lives at the expense of another, and this creates a chain of dependence of one species upon another. Taoists believe that laziness is the enemy, and that playing gives purpose to work. They also teach that you should honor your enemy in order to humble yourself in knowing that you will never win, but that does not mean it quit. You should continue to play with honor and fairness. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, you can deal with whatever life brings you and when death comes, you are ready. Humility is another basic principle of the Tao. It means to commit yourself from moment to moment. Success happens every moment that you do this.

In order to understand the logic of Taoism, you must start with a very basic saying; the world is constantly changing. This saying must be understood and believed before anyone can begin to understand the logic of Taoism. The reason for this is that many thousands of years ago, brilliant Chinese philosophers observed nature very closely, and noticing this simple saying. They developed Taoism, Zen, and many other Eastern philosophies, all of which are part of the saying. If you do not agree with the saying, you will disagree with Taoism or any other Eastern philosophies.

There have been many English versions of Tao Te Ching. Unfortunately most contain incorrect translations or mistakes. Mush of this results from the difficulty in understanding ancient Chinese. It is completely different from modern Chinese so that even native speakers have trouble understanding certain passages. Only a few translations of the book are close to perfect, but there are no translations that are completely perfect.

Some people question if Taoism is a Religion. Taoism certainly has a religious aspect. Many Christians freely explore the concepts of Taoism. Some even add whatever they think is useful to their own beliefs. The idea is to explore and learn the correct way or the better way to live and to conduct our personal affairs by understanding some of the principles that govern our lives.

The number of people worldwide who consider themselves Taoists is somewhat small, about thirty million, compared to about three hundred million Buddhists. Wherever the Chinese people have gone, they have taken Taoism with them. This is why elements of Taoism appear in many of the countries that came under Chinese influence over the centuries. Taoism has also had a strong influence on Chinese literature and on the technique and subject matter of Chinese art. It has been estimated that the number of Taoists is growing larger and larger every year.

Taoism reaches not only into the intellectual and spiritual lives of its followers but also into their physical life. It sees the physical body as a kind of a miniature model of the universe. It also believes that a healthy body is a necessary first step to achieving a high spiritual state. Taoism has long been associated with certain medicinal and nutritional practices. Taoist masters have recorded the medicinal uses of thousands of plants, trees, herbs, flowers, fruits, and fungi, and also studied nutrition. The masters recommended a balanced diet to maintain health and to promote longevity. For example, broccoli to the Taoists is a good food, but a diet that consists of only broccoli is not good because it is not balanced, and balance is the Taoist way. Meditation is often associated with Buddhism and other faiths from India. Long before Buddhism came to China, Taoists were using a form of meditation to help them come into harmony with the ultimate reality of the universe. The concept of non-doing is central to Taoist meditation.

Taoists believe that time spent in meditation prolongs life. In Taoists belief, longevity is important because the longer one lives, the greater one s chances are of achieving perfect harmony with Tao. The perfect person might hope to become immortal and rise to heaven, not just in spirit but physically as well.

Over the centuries, the threads of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism have become intertwined, each absorbing aspects of the others. As the Chinese say, The three teachings flow into one. This blending of traditions is consistent with the Asian approach to religion, which allows for believing in more than one truth. Many people who consider themselves Chinese Buddhists or Confucianists, as well as many people who claim that no one can know whether a god exists but who do not deny the possibility of that existence, but also practice the aspects of Taoism. Such practice is possible because the traditions do not conflict, but complement one another.

Taoists have never made an attempt to spread their religion. Travelers and wanderers, but never missionaries, they do not visit other countries to win converts. Taoist masters prefer to let students come to them and to counsel them one on one. Many early masters did gather followers, and for that reason, many sects resulted. Taoists tend to see the different interpretations of their beliefs as part of the infinite variety of the universe rather than as right or wrong. Over the centuries, Taoism has had many masters and many interpretations.

Taoism shares with Confucianism and Buddhism many of the characteristics that make them different from Western religions. Like Buddhists and Confucianists, Taoists do not attend regularly scheduled worship services or make statements of faith. There is no specific creed to which they they must contribute towards. While there are many traditional observances and rituals, there are none in which a follower must participate in order to be a Taoist. Unlike followers of Christianity or Islam or Judaism, Taoists, Buddhists, and Confucianists do not believe in a supreme being or in the immortality of the soul. Believers in Western traditions are concerned with the love of people for God, but religion in China has long concerned itself with practical moral behavior and self-improvement. Taoism provides guidance for living a moral life and attempts to explain the place of human beings in the natural universe. Some of Taoism s ancient practices for health and serenity attract followers of their own.

Taoism accommodates many points of view and practices. Taoist monks and nuns may retreat from the world and live in monasteries, trying to achieve spiritual perfection and become one with Tao. Taoist priests may live and work among the people, performing ancient rituals for health, prosperity, and redemption from sin. Some individuals may follow a particular Taoist practice such as meditation, or they may pursue and interest in Chinese medicine. Others may follow the religious rituals of Taoism in their homes, lighting incense to the spirits of their ancestors and the Taoist gods. All of these people consider themselves Taoists. They are all part of the living religion, examples of its vitality and strength.

Taoism, which is pronounced Daoism , is based on the Tao, or the Way. One of the basic observations was that the Way of nature, and nature itself is difficult to determine. Taoism can be described as a religion, but in the West it carries with it many gods, deities, morals, and faith, Taoism does not quite cut it as a religion by Western terms. It is probably best described as a philosophy of life, but even this, when defined, does not describe Taoism completely. The problem is that Taoism cannot be categorized, like the Tao itself. This religion is described in the very ancient, and very cincise socio-political treatise called the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. For most people it can be rather confusing. To understand most of the meaning, you must be aware of the context in which this book was written, as well as to have a basic understanding of Eastern philosophy, with its use of analogy, mythology, metaphor, and paradox.

Taoism is not for everyone, but for a special kind of person, even though anyone can benefit from it. Those who are ready to question what they have been taught find the true benefit in Taoism. The more one learns of Taoism, the more they learn they must question it. It is a nature-based philosophy; it starts and ends with the observation of nature. This religion observes nature from one’s own viewpoint. It sees the observer and the observed as one entire system. This is the first principle of Taoism, Oneness. There is not just us or just nature, but both. Every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao. It springs into existence, unconscious, perfect, free; takes on a physical body, lets circumstances complete it. That is why every being spontaneously honors the Tao. The Tao gives birth to all beings, nourishes them, cares for them, maintains them, comforts them, protects them, takes them back to itself, creating without possessing, acting without expecting, guiding without interfering. That is why love of the Tao is in the very nature of things.

The second principle of Taoism is of Dynamic Balance. There are always two basic distinctions in nature, symbolized by the yin and the yang, but Taoism sees balance as the basic characteristic underlying these distinctions. The Tao is the One. From the One come the yin and yang, these two are creative energy. From this energy comes the forms of all creation. All life embodies yin and embraces yang. When they are united, you achieve harmony. These two basic polarities not only balance each other, but also complement each other in cycles.

The Yin-yang is made up of five elements. Here the elements were presented to numbers: one being water, two being fire, three as wood, four as metal, and five as earth. These were not just substances or chemical phenomena but represented instead the principle cosmic forces or influences and headings. All phenomena like the seasons, directions, flavors, foodstuffs, the body, and human activities could be classified under one of the five phases. Earth was central and neutral; the four other elements corresponded to the four directions and to the four seasons and were further classified as either yin or yang. Spring and summer were both yang and were represented to wood and east; fire and south; fall and winter were yin and corresponded to metal and west, water and north. The five elements were also symbolized by the five fundamental colors: water is equal with black, fire with red, wood with green, metal with white, and earth with yellow. Added to this symbolism were four animals, which often appeared in representations of sacred space: the dragon to the east, the red bird to the south, the white tiger to the west, and the tortoise with a snake around it, to the north.

The third principle of Taoism is Cyclical Growth. The sun is replaced by the moon then the moon is replaced by the sun. Summer is replaced by winter then winter is replaced by summer. Light is replaced by dark then dark is replaced by light. Everywhere in nature, you will see these basic cycles. Taoists believe that because these seemingly opposite polarities are actually balanced and work together through cycles, you can actually produce one from the other. This sort of behavior is the fourth principle of Taoism, Harmonious Action. This means that weakness produces strength, and strength produces weakness. Through these four basic principles of nature, there are several derived ethical suggestions, which make up the bulk of the Tao Te Ching. The unique thing about the Taoist approach to ethics is that they are not designed to preach to people about how to live.

One thing basic to the Taoist is a redefinition of self or ego. Taoists believe that the way we try to stand outside ourselves in the attempt of self-observation is the source of most of our unhappiness and loneliness. In order to observe as such, we must see our self as separate from other selves. The goal of Taoism in not to destroy the ego. The goal instead is to keep our attention on the greater whole, the process to which there is a pattern, which is known to always return the source.

The Tao is infinite, or eternal. It is eternal because it was never born therefore is can never die. It is eternal because it has no desires therefore it is present for all beings. Another thing that is a basic belief of Taoism is that limitations are everywhere. The ideal of unlimited freedom is an illusion. Maximum freedom is experienced when one is in the middle between the upper bound and lower bound limitations. Then one has the maximum range in which to change his behavior. This is the Taoist ethic of freedom through moderation.

Fear is a basic feature of living things. By being afraid, one keeps himself away from danger. The universe is still a great mystery to everyone, and much of life is taken up with dealing with this mystery. Living your life in an environment, which you know nothing about. But Taoists take a different approach, they embrace the mystery. They enjoy every confusion and misunderstanding and mysterious thing they see. To them, life is a game and games are not fun without the possibility of winning or losing. Mystery is what makes games fun, and to Taoists, mystery is what makes life fun. For this reason, Taoists still retain their basic fear. They balance their fear with their curiosity to seek the true potential of their existence. They look within themselves and see all that they don t understand and they like it that way.

The Tao Te Ching describes the results of various behaviors, based on the four principles of nature. It goes on to warn those who preach, or try to tell you how to live. It warns against contrived or consciously manipulated people. Because nature is dynamic, and contrived morals are stiff, contrived morals go against nature. The purpose for these morals are usually for greater control, either for yourself or for others. By dictating your morals, other people feel a sense of control over you life and you also dictate you own morals.

Because there are two polarities overriding all existence, to attach to one or the other would be to misunderstand them. By nature they are inseparable, to have one, you have to have the other. The Tao Te Ching often teaches detachment for this reason. Attachment can come in several forms, just as the yin and yang come in several forms. Some of the forms you can be attached to are life, knowledge, action, and most general of all you can be attached to the being.

The Tao Te Ching teaches that learning is a part of life, but what you learn doesn t belong to you. It also teaches that life and death are cycles of nature. One day something is allowed to live and the next day it dies. One thing lives at the expense of another, and this creates a chain of dependence of one species upon another. Taoists believe that laziness is the enemy, and that playing gives purpose to work. They also teach that you should honor your enemy in order to humble yourself in knowing that you will never win, but that does not mean it quit. You should continue to play with honor and fairness. Immersed in the wonder of the Tao, you can deal with whatever life brings you and when death comes, you are ready. Humility is another basic principle of the Tao. It means to commit yourself from moment to moment. Success happens every moment that you do this.

In order to understand the logic of Taoism, you must start with a very basic saying; the world is constantly changing. This saying must be understood and believed before anyone can begin to understand the logic of Taoism. The reason for this is that many thousands of years ago, brilliant Chinese philosophers observed nature very closely, and noticing this simple saying. They developed Taoism, Zen, and many other Eastern philosophies, all of which are part of the saying. If you do not agree with the saying, you will disagree with Taoism or any other Eastern philosophies.

There have been many English versions of Tao Te Ching. Unfortunately most contain incorrect translations or mistakes. Mush of this results from the difficulty in understanding ancient Chinese. It is completely different from modern Chinese so that even native speakers have trouble understanding certain passages. Only a few translations of the book are close to perfect, but there are no translations that are completely perfect.

Some people question if Taoism is a Religion. Taoism certainly has a religious aspect. Many Christians freely explore the concepts of Taoism. Some even add whatever they think is useful to their own beliefs. The idea is to explore and learn the correct way or the better way to live and to conduct our personal affairs by understanding some of the principles that govern our lives.

The number of people worldwide who consider themselves Taoists is somewhat small, about thirty million, compared to about three hundred million Buddhists. Wherever the Chinese people have gone, they have taken Taoism with them. This is why elements of Taoism appear in many of the countries that came under Chinese influence over the centuries. Taoism has also had a strong influence on Chinese literature and on the technique and subject matter of Chinese art. It has been estimated that the number of Taoists is growing larger and larger every year.

Taoism reaches not only into the intellectual and spiritual lives of its followers but also into their physical life. It sees the physical body as a kind of a miniature model of the universe. It also believes that a healthy body is a necessary first step to achieving a high spiritual state. Taoism has long been associated with certain medicinal and nutritional practices. Taoist masters have recorded the medicinal uses of thousands of plants, trees, herbs, flowers, fruits, and fungi, and also studied nutrition. The masters recommended a balanced diet to maintain health and to promote longevity. For example, broccoli to the Taoists is a good food, but a diet that consists of only broccoli is not good because it is not balanced, and balance is the Taoist way. Meditation is often associated with Buddhism and other faiths from India. Long before Buddhism came to China, Taoists were using a form of meditation to help them come into harmony with the ultimate reality of the universe. The concept of non-doing is central to Taoist meditation.

Taoists believe that time spent in meditation prolongs life. In Taoists belief, longevity is important because the longer one lives, the greater one s chances are of achieving perfect harmony with Tao. The perfect person might hope to become immortal and rise to heaven, not just in spirit but physically as well.

Over the centuries, the threads of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism have become intertwined, each absorbing aspects of the others. As the Chinese say, The three teachings flow into one. This blending of traditions is consistent with the Asian approach to religion, which allows for believing in more than one truth. Many people who consider themselves Chinese Buddhists or Confucianists, as well as many people who claim that no one can know whether a god exists but who do not deny the possibility of that existence, but also practice the aspects of Taoism. Such practice is possible because the traditions do not conflict, but complement one another.

Taoists have never made an attempt to spread their religion. Travelers and wanderers, but never missionaries, they do not visit other countries to win converts. Taoist masters prefer to let students come to them and to counsel them one on one. Many early masters did gather followers, and for that reason, many sects resulted. Taoists tend to see the different interpretations of their beliefs as part of the infinite variety of the universe rather than as right or wrong. Over the centuries, Taoism has had many masters and many interpretations.

Taoism shares with Confucianism and Buddhism many of the characteristics that make them different from Western religions. Like Buddhists and Confucianists, Taoists do not attend regularly scheduled worship services or make statements of faith. There is no specific creed to which they they must contribute towards. While there are many traditional observances and rituals, there are none in which a follower must participate in order to be a Taoist. Unlike followers of Christianity or Islam or Judaism, Taoists, Buddhists, and Confucianists do not believe in a supreme being or in the immortality of the soul. Believers in Western traditions are concerned with the love of people for God, but religion in China has long concerned itself with practical moral behavior and self-improvement. Taoism provides guidance for living a moral life and attempts to explain the place of human beings in the natural universe. Some of Taoism s ancient practices for health and serenity attract followers of their own.

Taoism accommodates many points of view and practices. Taoist monks and nuns may retreat from the world and live in monasteries, trying to achieve spiritual perfection and become one with Tao. Taoist priests may live and work among the people, performing ancient rituals for health, prosperity, and redemption from sin. Some individuals may follow a particular Taoist practice such as meditation, or they may pursue and interest in Chinese medicine. Others may follow the religious rituals of Taoism in their homes, lighting incense to the spirits of their ancestors and the Taoist gods. All of these people consider themselves Taoists. They are all part of the living religion, examples of its vitality and strength.

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