Taoism > What Is

What is Taoism?

There are several kinds of Taoism. The most known is the religious Taoism. It has gods, and rituals like any other religious system. There are also many mystical schools that follow esoteric disciplines in search of longevity and immortality, most of them dealing with alchemy recipes and philosophy.

Lao-tzu (the wise old man) is the father of Taoism. He wrote Tao-te ching which is the main source of information related to Taoism
There's also a branch called tao-chia - the school of tao or of unity with the tao - which has as its initiators the famous Taoist masters such as Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu.

What is tao-chia? A way of life. Pointing to it, Alan Watts, the most important western author who wrote about Taoism, says:

    Taoism [is] 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. (From Tao: The Watercourse Way).

In short, tao-chia is a way of life which tries to accommodate the tendencies of nature.

But this approach is not a pure return to Mother Nature, so familiar to our New Age ideology. Rather it is a life wisdom acquired by simply observing the flow of natural events. 

  • Taoism sources

Everything we know about tao-chia Taoism, its concepts and ideas, come from the text of Tao-te ching (The Classic of Tao and Te) ascribed to Lao-tzu.

This book explains what is Tao (the central philosophical item of tao-chia) and what should be the Taoist disciple's conduct in order to follow the Tao, which is his /her main goal.

Chuang-tzu further developed the ideas of Tao-te ching by means of short stories, most of them fictitious, parables and metaphors. There's also the Lieh-tzu classic on the Emptiness and the story of Yang-tzu which added more materials to the already basic stratum of the Taoist works.

We may also count among these sources the well-known I-ching (Classic of Changes), used as oracular means from the ancient times of Chou dynasty. I-ching includes the Taoist philosophy contained in its insights and advices.

  • Taoism and the Western World

Chuang-tzu, the famous Lao-tzu's disciple, did a great deal for the spreading
of the Taoist wisdom
The religious Taoism resembles Christian and other such religious systems. Tao-chia is not equaled by any known Western system. Its philosophy is difficult to grasp by Westerners mainly interested in a personified God. The missing of a God explains why tao-chia is still presented like a historical spiritual movement rather than a living trend.

One should ask if this "trend" may be followed today and what is our benefit of following it.

The answer is yes, tao-chia can be followed today! It is not outdated! And what is worth, it is not necessary to retreat from the turmoil of the daily life to follow the Tao. (Read also the introductory paper of Jhian on the practicing the Tao here)

  • The Retirement Exigency

I know that the word "retreat" sounds good in the ears of the Westerners. Still we should ask ourselves what is this retreat for? What is the benefit of such behavior? If retreat is part of our life, like advancement is, then everything is just fine. If the retreat is not part of our life but a kind of exciting experience, then it must be something unwise and futile with it.

The Taoist (Tao) spiritual journey starts here and now by trying to accommodate the natural trends, as we already said. This means you must start from your actual troubles of living in your present world. The very stuff of your troubles is the matter we work with in our Taoist practice.

  • Taoism Taught Online

How can one accommodate the natural trends, what are these trends and further details about the Taoist basics are subjects of our email course intended for beginners -> click here to learn more. Also we teach you the way you can apply the Tao teachings to your everyday life - click here to learn more.



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