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What do you know about Taoism?

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  1. It’s about finding happiness & harmony, not through changing yourself or the world around you, but by acceptance of everything that is.
    I’m reading “The Tao of Pooh.” It explains taoism through Winnie the Pooh – very good, quick read!

  2. The Tao can be described as the ‘cosmic order of things’, the way the universe works. The ultimate goal of Taoism then is to align oneself with this – to move effortlessly, and let the Tao act for you. This is wu wei (“effortless effort”).
    Te is the expression of Tao, and Pu is essentially recognizing that your perception of things is not how the world actually is.

  3. Taoism–A Philosophical Start
    In its early stages, Taoism was more a philosophy than a religion. Its founder, Lao-tzu, was dissatisfied with the chaos and turmoil of the times and sought relief by shunning society and returning to nature. Not a great deal is known about the man, who is said to have lived in the sixth century B.C.E., although even that is uncertain. He was commonly called Lao-tzu, which means “Old Master” or “Old One,” because, as legend has it, his pregnant mother carried him for so long that when he was born, his hair had already turned white.
    The only official record about Lao-tzu is in Shih Chi (Historical Records), by Ssu-ma Ch’ien, a respected court historian of the second and first centuries B.C.E. According to this source, Lao-tzu’s real name was Li Erh. He served as a clerk in the imperial archives at Loyang, central China. But more significantly, it gives this account about Lao-tzu:
    “Lao Tzu resided in Chou most of his life. When he foresaw the decay of Chou, he departed and came to the frontier. The custom-house officer Yin Hsi said: ‘Sir, since it pleases you to retire, I request you for my sake to write a book.’ Thereupon Lao Tzu wrote a book of two parts consisting of five thousand and odd words, in which he discussed the concepts of the Way [Tao] and the Power [Te]. Then he departed. No one knows where he died.”
    Many scholars doubt the authenticity of this account. In any case, the book that was produced is known as Tao Te Ching (generally translated “The Classic of the Way and the Power”) and is considered the principal text of Taoism. It is written in terse, cryptic verses, some of which are only three or four words long. Because of this and because the meaning of some characters has changed considerably since the time of Lao-tzu, the book is subject to many different interpretations.
    A Glimpse of “Tao Te Ching”
    In Tao Te Ching, Lao-tzu expounded on Tao, the ultimate way of nature, and applied it to every level of human activity. Here we quote from a modern translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English to get a glimpse of Tao Te Ching. Regarding Tao, it says the following:
    “[There was] something mysteriously formed,
    Born before heaven and earth. . . .
    Perhaps it is the mother of ten thousand things.
    I do not know its name.
    Call it Tao.”–Chapter 25.
    “All things arise from Tao.
    They are nourished by Virtue [Te].
    They are formed from matter.
    They are shaped by environment.
    Thus the ten thousand things all respect Tao
    and honor Virtue [Te].”–Chapter 51.
    What can we deduce from these enigmatic passages? That to Taoists, Tao is some mysterious cosmic force that is responsible for the material universe. The objective of Taoism is to search out the Tao, leave behind the world, and become at one with nature. This concept is also reflected in the Taoists’ view on human conduct. Here is an expression of this ideal in Tao Te Ching:
    “Better stop short than fill to the brim.
    Oversharpen the blade, and the edge will soon blunt.
    Amass a store of gold and jade, and no one can protect it.
    Claim wealth and titles, and disaster will follow.
    Retire when the work is done.
    This is the way of heaven.

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