Taoism is considered as an entity that defies
definition, which can be properly understood only by
experience. The most approximate meaning with respect to
English language is “the way” or “the path”.
Taoism corresponds to a power, which envelops,
surrounds and flows through all things, living and
non-living. In simple words, it can be considered as a way
of spiritual living.
Taoism evolved from both a philosophical tradition linked
with the Tao-te Ching (Lao-tzu); Chuang-tzu,Lieh-tzu and
other texts, and a Taoist religious tradition. (Tao-chiao).
This religious tradition has got an organized doctrine,
formalized cultic activity and institutional leadership.
Both these traditions are well connected though there are
some conflicting ideas.
By tradition, Taoism is accredited
to three sources- Yellow emperor, Lao Tse’s Tao Teh
Chuang Tse’s untitled work. Many consider ‘I Ching’,
the book of changes as the original source of Taoism.
most of the eastern philosophies Taoism too is a combination
of inward introspection and external observation. The nodal
point of Tao is in the art of ‘wu wei’ (action through
inaction). This indeed matches with Indian yogic tradition
as well. This does not mean to remain idle! It is the art of
minimizing action, particularly violent action. Planning or
thinking about one’s action before implementing it is
another aspect of Tao. But a Taoist is not a pacifist to the
core. There is a scope for military action, when
he feels it is inevitable. If initiated to violence
he will fight until the goal is achieved.
On accomplishing the goal, saddened at the usage of
the ultimate tool and bloodshed, he would then move on with
the resolve to foresee better into the future.
early discourses of Taoism envisaged the synchronization of
Tao and nature as the solution for human problems, and there
by considered it as a spiritual approach to living. Taoists
preached to live harmoniously with nature empowered with
simplicity as a vital requisite for a pleasant environment.
Different techniques were used by the sages to concentrate
the mind to inner spiritual strength and set aside concerns
with external thoughts relating to monetary rewards, fame
and praise. Body health was also given due importance.
Herbal medicine, macrobiotic cooking and certain systems of
gymnastics and massage were used to keep the body strong and
consider various Gods as the manifestation of one Dao. A
Taoist priest has been ritually trained, and through the
process of meditation and visualization he harmonizes and
reunites with one Dao. The uniqueness of this way of life
with other religions is the absence of a personified deity.
Hence they don’t pray as Christians do.
following words spells out the close relationship attached
with Taoism and the way.
“Humans model themselves on earth,
Earth on heaven,
Heaven on the Way,
and the way on that which is naturally so.”
-- Laozi (Lao Tzu)
Daodejing (Tao te ching), #251
"I am good to the man who is good to me, likewise, I am also good to
the bad man."
-Tao Te Ching
Yin Yang symbol:
This Taoist symbol represents the balance of
opposites in the universe. When they are equally present,
all is calm. When the other outweighs one, there is
confusion and disarray. The two swirling shapes inside the
symbol denote change, which is the only constant entity in
the universe. According
to one saying, ‘yin’ (darker side) represents the breath
that formed the earth; ‘yang’ (the bright part) denotes
the breath that formed the heavens. Another view is that
‘yin’ represents the feminine aspects while ‘yang’
represents masculine part. Generally speaking yin and yan
can symbolize any two opposing forces in nature.
Chinese medicine teaches that illness is caused by blockages
or lack of balance in body’s ‘chi’ (intrinsic energy).
Tai Chis rhythmic massage balances this energy flow. This
effectuates the stimulation of central nervous system and
lowers blood pressure.
Ever since the emergence of
Taoism it has influenced the practitioners in coping with
the vagaries of life with a high spiritual inclination.