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Quotes on Tao and Taoism

Alan WattsCertain Chinese philosophers writing in, perhaps, the -5th and -4th centuries, explained ideas and a way of life that have come to be known as Taoism - the way of man's cooperation with the course or trend of the natural world, whose principles we discover in the flow patterns of water, gas, an fire, which are subsequently memorialized or sculptured in those of stone and wood, and, later, in many forms of human art. What they had to say is of immense importance for our own times when in the +20th century, we are realizing that our efforts to rule nature by technical force and "straighten it out" may have the most disastrous results. (From Alan Watts: Tao: The Watercourse Way, Pantheon Books, 1975, xiv)

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[Tao} It is about the laws of nature in all things we see and do. Adhering to it helps you to get things done more easily and with less resistance. It is like cutting along the grain of wood and swimming along the flow of current. (From tao-in-you.com)

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The use of the word "Tao" by Chinese masters does not, in and of itself, indicate a connection to Taoism.

Morphologically speaking, the word "Tao" is not a Taoist term. "Attaining the Tao" is frequently used in Confucian writings too, and both Confucian practitioners and scholars understand that "attaining the Tao" in Confucian writings is different from "attaining the Tao" in Taoist writings.

The same applies to Buddhist writings. (From Mistaking the Word "Tao" for Taoism - http://www.shaolin.org/zen/word-tao.html).

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On the very idea that philosophical Taoists venerate the non-useful, this is pure revisionist poppycock.
The Taoist sees the use in what most would consider as useless.
The lesson of the empty vessel is one of great import
. (From DrumR at www.interfaith.org/forum/i-ching-12421.html)

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A Clear mind comes from the wonderful fundamental essence given us by nature and is not a personal possession. Impartiality beyond any specific culture fosters clarity and deeper seeing. It is not hard to produce wisdom... what is hard is to have wisdom not interrupted. (From Clear Mind, www.flowinghands.com/mbs_htm/mbs.art.clear.mind.htm)

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Thus, even though the term Tao is used of Christ in the Chinese translation of John's Gospel, we should not infer that Taoism and Christianity are really about the same thing. They are not. Christianity proclaims a personal Creator who is morally outraged by man's sinfulness and will one day judge the world in righteousness (Rom. 1:18–2:6). Taoism proclaims an impersonal creative principle which makes no moral distinction between right and wrong and which judges no one. (From Taoism and Christianity by Michael Greghorn, www.probe.org/content/view/892/0/)

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Taoism ... is the Religion of the Tao, a term meaning Path or Way, but denoting in this peculiar case the way, course or movement of the Universe, her processes and methods. In other words, Taoism is the Religion of Heaven and Earth, of the Cosmos, of the World or Nature in the broadest sense of these words. Hence we may call it Naturism. (De Groot: Religious System of China, IV, p. 66.)

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Taoism is based on the idea that behind all material things and all the change in the world lies one fundamental, universal principle: the Way or Tao. This principle gives rise to all existence and governs everything, all change and all life. Behind the bewildering multiplicity and contradictions of the world lies a single unity, the Tao. The purpose of human life, then, is to live life according to the Tao... (from www.wsu.edu:8001/~dee/CHPHIL/TAOISM.HTM)

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Condensed into a single phrase, the injunction of Lao Tzu to mankind is, 'Follow Nature.' This is a good practical equivalent for the Chinese expression, 'Get hold of Tao', although 'Tao' does not exactly correspond to the word Nature, as ordinarily used by us to denote the sum of phenomena in this ever-changing universe. It seems to me, however, that the conception of Tao must have been reached, originally, through this channel. Lao Tzu, interpreting the plain facts of Nature before his eyes, concludes that behind her manifold workings there exists an ultimate Reality which in its essence is unfathomable and unknowable, yet manifests itself in laws of unfailing regularity. (From Lionel Giles: Book of Lieh-tzu, 1912).

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Taoism, in its broadest sense, is the search for truth and reality. In a narrower sense, it is the original knowledge tradition of China... (From Awakening to the Tao by Liu I-ming, translated by Thomas Cleary).

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Daodejing doesn't translate into "The Way of Virtue", you know.
Te means "virtue" as in something's manifestations. Like the Te of a rock is that it is hard. It being hard is "by virtue of" it being a rock.

And Tao means "the way" as in an abbreviation for "The Way Things Are". A better translation for Daodejing than "The Way of Virtue", I think, would be "The Way Things Are, and Its Consequences. (Michael Banu)

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A foreigner, imbued with Christian ideas, naturally feels inclined to substitute for Tao the term by which he is accustomed to denote the Supreme Being - God. But this is only admissible if he is prepared to use the term 'God' in a much broader sense than we find in either the Old or the New Testament. That which chiefly impresses the Taoist in the operations of Nature is their absolute impersonality. The inexorable law of cause and effect seems to him equally removed from active goodness or benevolence on the one hand, and from active, or malevolence on the other. (From Lionel Giles: Taoist Teachings, translated from the Book of Lieh-Tzu, 1912).

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If you want to nourish a bird, you should let it live any way it chooses. Creatures differ because they have different likes and dislikes. Therefore the sages never require the same ability from all creatures. . . concepts of right should be founded on what is suitable. The true saint leaves wisdom to the ants, takes a cue from the fishes, and leaves willfulness to the sheep. (From Chuang-tzu quoted on www.origin.org/ucs/sbcr/taoism.cfm).

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Taoism really has to do with flowing with the Tao ( Dao ) - a word translated to English as "The Way," and has to do with "the natural flow of things", the "course of nature", and is sometimes called "The Watercourse Way." (From www.yakrider.com/Tao/Taoism_Daoism.htm).

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The Old Testament tells us that man has dominion over the rest of creation, and the 8th Psalm, echoing a similar attitude, states that the Lord made man "a little lower than the angels," and, "Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands and has out all things under his feet." Chinese art, particularly landscape paintings, suggest a very different relationship between humans and nature. Taoists speak of a harmony among all aspects of nature, and say "Heaven and earth and I live together. (Jean Johnson, Introduction to Attitudes Toward Nature in Taoist Art, www.askasia.org/teachers/Instructional_Resources/
Lesson_Plans/China/LP_china_2.htm).

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What we mean by Tao is the way or course of Nature. This way has nothing good or bad, it is a mere flowing of things following the development and decline attributes of the moment. (From Jhian Yang: A Short Introductory Lesson to Tao and Taoism)

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Reading the Tao Te Ching and other Taoist texts felt like "someone was looking over my shoulder," explaining to me things that really had relevance to my life. The most appealing aspect of Taoism, though, was that it didn't claim to be "divinely-inspired." Laozi never claimed to have been visited by a deity and commanded to write the Tao Te Ching. He wrote it because he observed patterns in the world around him -- patterns that didn't require blind faith and acceptance of logical contradiction to recognize -- and realized that everything must be connected somehow. (From: www.westernreformtaoism.org/introduction.php).

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When your mind is empty of prejudices you can see the Tao. When your heart is empty of desires you can follow the Tao. (From Master Lu Teachings.)

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Lao-tze's Taoism is the exhibition of a way or method of living which men should cultivate as the highest and purest development of their nature. (From James Legge: Religions of China)

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P'u (pronounced POO) is literally the "uncarved wood" or "uncarved block."  The metaphor suggests we are all born with our personality like an uncarved block of wood.  All that we experience and all we are taught starts to carve away pieces of that original simplicity.  Taoists try to regain that early sense of unlimited possibility by trying to "unlearn" things until everything becomes a new experience.

We may feel that we must hold fast to a sense of history so that we don't "repeat the mistakes" of our ancestors or at least our own mistakes.  We have an alternative though.  We can use our instincts to make a correct choice in each situation.  And we can do it without an unnecessary burden of past experiences which may or may not be applicable to the new one. (From http://taomanor.org.)

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Tao (pronounced "Dào" ) is a concept found in Taoism and more generally in ancient Chinese philosophy. While the character itself translates as "way," "path," or "route," or sometimes more loosely as "doctrine" or "principle," it is used philosophically to signify the fundamental or true nature of the world. The concept of Tao differs from conventional (western) ontology, however; it is an active and holistic conception of the world, rather than a static, atomistic one. Lao Tzu's book, then, Tao Te Ching means, roughly, "The Way and It's Power." (Tao = The Way; Te = Power; Ching = Book) (Brian Robertson, http://christianmystics.com/contemporary/BrianRobertson/TheTaoJesus.html.)

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