December 1, 2011
The Ways of The Way ( Tao)
On Earth we are pushed almost simultaneously in some sort of direction, opportunity, decision, etc. and when these situations present themselves we face dilemmas of how and why we should approach them in a certain manner according to moral precepts, short and long term goals, and societal constraints. The teachings of Taoism are an excellent if not perfect life guide for these dealings, because the Tao, or “the way”, can be thought in terms of a form of enlightenment or remedy for the humanly ways of this world. The Tao upholds the natural proof that life is of the utmost importance and the most valued possession in life is intrinsically itself. In this supreme experience of life we face constant movement for advancement of self and quality of life by technology and mentality, yet the Tao gestures a content and simple life where these “improvements” aren’t the strives we need to be making. The orchestrator of Taoism himself, Lao Tzu, it was said, “the greatest Virtue is to follow the Tao and Tao alone” (Tzu 10) which states of the Tao’s incomparability to life’s other moral and spiritual modules. Throughout this paper I will divulge the in the functions of simplicity and humbleness professed in Taoism as well as the utility of the Tao in nearly every aspect of life.
History and Beginnings of Taoism
Taoism is believed to have started in the 6th century B.C.E. by a former government worker who maintained the royal archives during the reign of the Chou Dynasty. That keeper of the royal archives was named Lao Tzu and he became dreary from his work so left his occupation to pursue a different calling out west. It is speculated that upon his departure from the confines of China, a guard watching the border asked him to record all of his wisdom before he passed. With this incentive Lao Tzu sat down and wrote the Tao Te Ching, which was his only known work summing up to roughly 5,000 words and spoke of in depth of the manner of the Tao and how it correlates to us, this life, and the world. It was Tzu’s only work (which some scholars dispute it was other sages compiling together and not one entity, Lao Tzu) whereupon he was never seen or recorded again. With this Taoism was born.
To understand the method of the Tao it needs to be understood what the Tao reflects and what the Tao is because that is the essence of the Tao, it just is. Essentially the Tao is the natural order and true way of life, it is an ultimately indescribable yet definable through guidelines and the teachings written by Lao Tzu. Lao Tzu even said in the first lines of the Tao Te Ching, “ The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao” , signifying that telling and learning of the Taoism is not genuine Tao because the Tao has to be lived and found out personally from person to person. “ Daoist ideas[consist of ] the ecstatic journey, physical immortality, sexual yoga, and in particular the aspiration to harmonize human life with the way of nature”, here we see a connection to individual life and becoming one being of nature through this “ecstatic journey”, which is simple bliss in our voyage through time on this earth. While were here on planet Earth we aren’t really making the best out of it but rather coming to the realization that inherently this life is the best in the way it is. This simplicity is the vitality of our life, we need to let the roots of the real planet take over our life, and not submit to contaminated constraints of society or contemporary lifestyles for, “he is detached, thus at one with all” where “he” is detached from societal conformity and thinking and one with all the underlying truth of the world. Intrinsically this universal way to life, that is the Tao, is perfect and flawless from times of sorrow to times of joy because like the Yin and Yang symbol from ancient Chinese culture in life should be in accordance and...
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