People believe that Taoism is something that cannot be defined and that it is something that can only be adequately grasped by experience. In terms of the English language, “the route” or “the road” is the phrase that comes closest to conveying the intended meaning. The philosophy of Taoism may be likened to a force that encompasses, surrounds, and courses through everything, both living and non-living. To put it another way, it is possible to think of it as a method of living a spiritual life.
Both a philosophical tradition related to the Tao-te Ching (also known as Lao-tzu), Chuang-zu, Lieh-tzu, and other books, as well as a Taoist religious tradition, contributed to the development of Taoism. (Tao-chiao). This particular religious tradition is distinguished by the presence of a well-developed body of teaching, an institutionalized cultic activity, and authoritative institutions. Although there are certain beliefs that are in direct opposition to one another, these two traditions are strongly related. Taoism is said to have originated from three different sources: the Yellow Emperor, Lao Tse’s Tao Teh Ching, and Chuang Tse’s unnamed book. This is according to Taoist tradition. Many people believe that the ‘I Ching,’ also known as the book of transformations, is the primary origin of Taoism.
Taoism, much like other eastern philosophies, is a mix of looking within at one’s own thoughts and looking outside at the world around one. The practice of martial art known as wu wei is where the Tao finds its center (action through inaction). This, in fact, is consistent with the yogic heritage of India as well. This does not imply that one should do nothing! It is the practice of doing as little physical activity as possible, especially aggressive action. One other facet of the Tao is the practice of pre-action preparation, sometimes known as planning or thinking about what one will do. However, a Taoist is not always a pacifist at their very essence. When he believes that military action is unavoidable, there is room for a plan for such action. If started to be violent he will fight till the aim is attained. After achieving the objective, he would then go on with the determination to plan better for the future, while being disheartened by the fact that the most powerful instrument had been used and that people had died.
The first Taoist talks envisioned the unification of Tao and nature as the answer to human problems, and as a result, regarded Taoism to be a spiritual approach to life. The Taoist philosophy emphasised the need of living in concord with one’s surroundings and embracing a life of simplicity as a prerequisite for a good atmosphere. The sages used a variety of methods in order to focus the attention on the inner spiritual power and to lay aside preoccupation with exterior ideas related to monetary rewards, fame, and acclaim. The health of the body was also accorded the consideration it deserved. Herbal treatment, macrobiotic food, certain types of gymnastics and massage, and other practices like these were used to maintain a healthy and young physique.
The Taoist religion views all gods as different manifestations of the same Dao. A Taoist priest has undergone extensive training in Taoist rituals, and through the practices of meditation and visualization, he is able to achieve harmony and unification with the Dao. The lack of a personified god is what distinguishes this style of living from other faiths in that it is their core tenet. Because of this, they do not pray in the same way that Christians do.
Some important pronouncements
The following words spell 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
The Yin Yang symbol:
This Taoist symbol is meant to illustrate how opposites may coexist in harmony throughout the cosmos. When both of them are there, there is peace and quiet. Confusion and disorder are the results when one factor is outweighed by another. Change is the only thing that is everlasting in our world, and the two whirling figures included inside the symbol represent this concept. “Yin” (the darker side) is said to symbolize the breath that made the earth, while “yang” (the light section) is said to represent the breath that formed the skies. According to a different point of view, the term “yin” refers to the feminine features, while the term “yang” refers to the masculine component. In a broad sense, yin and yan may represent any two opposing forces that exist in the natural world.
According to the teachings of traditional Chinese medicine, sickness is caused either by blockages in the body’s chi or by a lack of balance in the chi (intrinsic energy). This energy flow is brought into equilibrium by the rhythmic massage of Tai Chi. Because of this, the stimulation of the central nervous system is effective, and the blood pressure is lowered.
Ever since Taoism came into existence, its practitioners have been impacted by it in how they deal with the unpredictable nature of life by developing a strong spiritual tendency.