‘Taoism’ or ‘Daoism’ is a fundamental idea, a philosophical tradition of Chinese origin. Taoism dates back to 4th century BC. ‘Tao (道)’ is a Chinese word meaning ‘way’ or ‘path’. Tao is said to be a cosmic force that flows through all the things and binds them together. It emphasizes on doing what is natural and going with the flow; to live in harmony with Tao. Taoism was the first religion/idea to enter into Japan followed by Confucianism and then Buddhism. It is believed that everything that is in existence is governed by Tao and that it is the way of ‘nature’. It does not have any rigid rituals and practices but it rather believes in achieving perfection by becoming one with nature. There are three essential elements of Tao- Naturalness, Simplicity & Spontaneity.
The concept of Tao is very rich and complex. The ‘Way to Tao’ is considered to be ‘Way of Water course’. Just as a river has no pre-planned idea where it would flow and just follows the nature, that is; if nature wants it to turn left, it turns left and if the nature wants it to take a right turn, it turns right. Taoism believes we should be just like that river, we should also flow freely and let the nature decide our course and destination. Taoism teaches us to be neutral in nature or so to say conduct ourselves according to the altering cycles of nature because “NOTHING LASTS FOREVER”.
Taoism, Shintoism or Confucianism for that matter does not answer the big questions-
- Who we are?
- Is there any meaning in life?
- What is reality?
- What happens after we die?
Laotzu, is the founder of Taoism and was an ancient Chinese philosopher who wrote the ‘Tao Te Ching’, which is the religious text of Taoism.
In the religious text, Tao Te Ching, Laotzu wrote about the essential elements of Taoism, which were as follows:-
- Following the course of nature and living in harmony with it- Taoism stresses on doing what is natural and just going with the flow. To leave everything to nature and to just follow its course freely and everything eventually will fall in its place.
- Spontaneity- as Taoism emphasizes on going with the flow of nature it also means not setting any plan beforehand so spontaneity becomes a part of it. When we have a habit of pre-planning everything a small roadblock in our plans stresses us out but if we leave everything to the natural flow then even if there is a slight change in the direction it doesn’t affect us and we become quick on our feet and spontaneous in our approach which ultimately boosts our confidence and make us quick thinkers.
- Rejection of rules and regulations- similar to Shintoism and Confucianism, Taoism does not have any defined set of rules and regulations and also because Taoism does not believe in following any pre-plans course of action but to change oneself according to the changes in our surrounding so it is rather meaningless as well to have any defined set of rules.
- Emphasis on intuition over reaction or intellect- Our conscious mind is where our sense of reason and intellect resides and guides us to the choices that we ‘think’ we want or what we ‘think’ is correct. But in our subconscious mind, where our ‘intuition’ resides, always shows us the path that that we ‘believe’ to be correct and what we ‘feel’ that we ‘need’ in actuality. Intuition is more powerful and accurate than reason and intellect because it makes us follow the path that we believe in deep inside.
By ethical point of view, Taoism is ‘action without action’. It means that if we keep doing something repeatedly it becomes natural for us and we stop identifying it as it just comes to us naturally and we let the nature to take over ourselves and our actions.
I am just a student learning about these things. please do your own research.