Home Discussion Forum What is taoism (or a taoist)?

What is taoism (or a taoist)?

I met a guy who said he was raised Baptist but now he’s more of a taoist. What does that mean exactly? I don’t want to look like a moron by asking him. I kind of like him, and I don’t want him to think I’m stupid.


  1. Here read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taoism
    Wu wei (simplified Chinese: æ— ä¸º; traditional Chinese: 無爲; pinyin: wúwéi) is a central concept in Taoism. The literal meaning of wu wei is “without action”. It is often expressed by the paradox wei wu wei, meaning “action through inaction”.[23] The practice and efficacy of wu wei are fundamental in Taoist thought, most prominently emphasized in Taoism. The goal of wu wei is alignment with Tao, revealing the soft and invisible power within all things. It is believed by Taoists that masters of wu wei can observe and follow this invisible potential, the innate in-action of the Way.[24]
    In ancient Taoist texts, wu wei is associated with water through its yielding nature.[25] Water is soft and weak, but it can move earth and carve stone. Taoist philosophy proposes that the universe works harmoniously according to its own ways. When someone exerts his will against the world, he disrupts that harmony. Taoism does not identify man’s will as the root problem. Rather, it asserts that man must place his will in harmony with the natural universe
    Tao” is usually translated as road, channel, path, way, doctrine, or line.[14] Wing-tsit Chan stated that Tao meant system of morality to Confucianists, but the natural, eternal, spontaneous, indescribable way things began and pursued their course to Taoists.[15] Hansen disagrees that these were separate meanings and attributes.[16] Cane asserts Tao can be roughly stated to be the flow of the universe, or the force behind the natural order, equating it with the influence that keeps the universe balanced and ordered.[17] Martinson says that Tao is associated with nature, due to a belief that nature demonstrates the Tao.[18] The flow of qi, as the essential energy of action and existence, is often compared to the universal order of Tao. Tao is compared to what it is not, which according to Keller is similar to the negative theology of Western scholars.[19] It is often considered to be the source of both existence and non-existence.
    A Taoist Temple in Taiwan, showing elements of the Jingxiang religious practice and sculptures of Dragon and Lion guardians.Taoism has never been a unified religion, but has rather consisted of numerous teachings based on various revelations. Therefore, different branches of Taoism often have very distinct beliefs. Nevertheless, there are certain core beliefs that nearly all the schools share.[13]
    Taoist theology emphasizes various themes found in the Daodejing and Zhuangzi, such as naturalness, vitality, peace, “non-action” (wu wei), emptiness (refinement), detachment, flexibility, receptiveness, spontaneity, the relativism of human ways of life, ways of speaking and guiding behavior.
    Tao Living
    The Dream of the Butterfly
    by Derek Lin
    It was a cool evening in ancient China. Chuang Tzu’s friend went looking for him at the local inn. He found Chuang Tzu sitting at a table, sipping his drink in a contemplative mood.
    “There you are!” Chuang Tzu’s friend greeted him. “I thought by now you would be telling everybody another one of your stories. Why so quiet?”
    “There is a question on my mind,” said Chuang Tzu, “a question about existence.”
    “I see. Would you like me to leave you alone to your thoughts?”
    “No, let me share it with you. Perhaps you can provide me with your perspective.”
    “My perspective is of little value, but I would be glad to listen.” He pulled up a chair.
    “I was out for a stroll late in the afternoon,” said Chuang Tzu. “I went to one of my favorite spots under a tree. I sat there, thinking about the meaning of life. It was so warm and pleasant that I soon relaxed, dozed off, and drifted into a dream. In my dream, I found myself flying up above the field. I looked behind me and saw that I had wings. They were large and beautiful, and they fluttered rapidly. I had turned into a butterfly! It was such a feeling of freedom and joy, to be so carefree and fly around so lightly in any way I wished. Everything in this dream felt absolutely real in every way. Before long, I forgot that I was ever Chuang Tzu. I was simply the butterfly and nothing else.”
    “I’ve had dreams of flying myself, but never as a butterly,” Chuang Tzu’s friend said. “This dream sounds like a wonderful experience.”
    “It was, but like all things, it had to end sooner or later. Gradually, I woke up and realized that I was Chuang Tzu after all. This is what puzzles me.”
    “What is so puzzling about it? You had a nice dream, that’s all there is to it.”
    “What if I am dreaming right now? This conversation I am having with you seems real in every way, but so did my dream. I thought I was Chuang Tzu who had a dream of being a butterfly. What if I am a butterfly who, at this very moment, is dreaming of being Chuang Tzu?”
    “Well, I can tell you that you are actually Chuang Tzu, not a butterfly.”
    Chuang Tzu smiled: “You may simply be part of my dream, no more or less real than anything else. Thus, there is nothing you can do to help me identify the distinction between Chuang Tzu and the butterfly. This, my friend, is the essential question about the transformation of existence.”
    Many philosophers and students of the Tao feel that of all the stories ever told by Chuang Tzu, this is the one that best captures his essence. There is so much agreement on this that the butterfly has come to represent Chuang Tzu in Chinese culture. But what is so special about this story? It seems rather short and simple, so why do people consider it to be so imporant?
    One thing that sages have observed about the world is that many people talk too much but convey little that is meaningful. The Tao seems to be the opposite in that it says nothing and yet expresses everything. The sages occupy a position between the two in that they speak concisely but convey a world of wisdom. This characteristic applies to Chuang Tzu and this story as well – it may not seem to say much, and yet embedded within it are four important lessons for us to ponder.
    First Lesson: Oneness
    By connecting himself with the butterfly, Chuang Tzu is pointing out that all living things are united by the life force within them. The drive to survive and thrive in us is the very same drive that also exists in everything from the largest creatures to the smallest insects. When we recognize this, we can begin to see ourselves as part of nature rather than apart from nature.
    Chuang Tzu has chosen the butterfly deliberately to emphasize this point. In terms of appearance, the butterfly seems as different from a human being as anything can be. Nevertheless, at a fundamental level it is exactly like us – a manifestation of life, and therefore of the Tao, in the material world.
    If we can say that about a butterfly, then we can say that about anything. Therefore, one of the most basic truths in the world is that all are one.
    Second Lesson: Life is Like a Dream
    Chuang Tzu also points out in this story that a dream can seem every bit as real as our waking existence. All the sights and sounds, feelings and emotions in the dream can be just as vivid and intense as our experience in reality.
    This lesson is an exercise in detachment in two areas of life: emotional obsessions and material obsessions. The key to this lesson is the realization that if we can see how dreams can seem completely real, then we can also see how reality can be just like a dream.
    We can become emotionally obsessive when we interact with others. Sometimes people say positive things about us and we grasp onto their compliments and approval; sometimes they say negative things instead and we cling to the destructive feelings of taking offense or being attacked.
    Let us use the negative side as an example. Suppose someone has said something that you find extremely hurtful and insulting, and you become angry. You wish to regain your tranquility, but your anger makes it impossible. What to do?
    Step one: recall to mind Chuang Tzu’s equivalence between dream-state and reality. If you experience the insult in a dream, you would feel just as hurt, offended and angry.
    Step two: realize that you already have a natural ability to deal with it. If the event occurred in a dream, you would simply shrug it off upon awakening. It’s only a dream; everything’s okay. We have all done this before. We are all experts in dealing with bad dreams.
    Step three: apply this natural ability to deal with your negative emotions. Although the event has actually occurred and isn’t a dream, your emotional reactions to it are, again, exactly identical. This basic equivalence gives you the leverage to manage your rage. Handle the negativity as if it is the result from a nightmare, and reflect on how in some ways this is literally true. Soon you’ll discover letting the anger go is not so impossible after all.
    Third Lesson: Awakening Awareness
    Becoming fully awake is a powerful metaphor in spiritual cultivation. The word “buddha” literally means someone who has become fully awakened. Compared to this true state of wakefulness, our everyday consciousness resembles sleep, and everything we consider real in life turns out to have no more reality than a dream that fades into nothingness.
    This may be difficult to understand. After all, at this very moment you probably feel very much awake. Why would anyone say you are asleep when you know you aren’t?
    The truth is that almost everyone operates at a low level of awareness most of the time. Consider the last time you locked a door, walked away, and then had to go back to double-check because you couldn’t be sure you

  2. That’s a tough questions to answer. Let’s quote form “The Search For Tao”, by Madelyn Hamilton..
    “In a nutshell, Taoism is the consolidation of a number of concepts and practices that make up the “Path”, or “Way”, of living. The consolidation of ideas and concepts include basic principles or “theories” regarding the body, diet, breathing and physical exercises, uses of herbs, philosophical inquiry and, of course, meditation. All of which the Taoist feels brings a human being into closer alignment with the “natural order” of life and living – a pathway that humankind appears to have gotten derailed from.”
    That’s a pretty complete definition. But it lacks the poetry inherent in Taoism. Let’s quote straight from the source, Lao-Tze’s the Tao Te Ching.
    “The Tao that can be named is not the eternal Tao.
    The Name that can be named is not the eternal name.
    The nameless is the beginning of Heaven and Earth.
    the named is the mother of all things.”
    Tao is a force. It’s not a God, it’s not some sentient being controlling the universe. It just IS. It’s everywhere, all at once. It flows through the entire world, and we’re all affected by it, even if we don’t realize it. Here’s an example of someone experiencing Tao.
    A Boy throws a baseball into the air. The baseball comes down and smaks said boy in the forehead.
    That’s Tao right there. Tao is everything that’s natural, all the laws of physics, the laws of science, the nature of the world. It affects every squirrel, every raccoon, every person. In other words, Tao is the world and the way it works.
    TaoISM is a way of getting along with Tao and not getting your butt kicked all over the spiritual playing field while you do it. ^_^
    Taoism is split into two basic categories; Religious Taoism and Philisophical Taoism. In these pages, I’m going to be concentrating on philisophical Taoism, and some of it’s basic concepts.

  3. It’s not a stupid question. The Tao is a difficult concept for many western people to grasp. The Tao that can be named is not the Tao. That is essentially (but not verbatim) the first line of the Tao Te Ching. Think of the Tao like a metaphysical law of nature, one that keeps the Universe in balance. Its like water, when you tilt a bucket, the water inside levels out. The life of a Taoist is a simple one, wanting little, living simply. For example, all of my socks are identical. Why? Because its easier to do laundry that way, and when one wears out I throw it away and set the mate aside; then when another wears out I throw it away and put the orphaned socks together. A simple way of life.
    The Tao Te Ching is the basis of Taoism, and is attributed to Lao Tzu. Here is a link to get you started: http://thebigview.com/tao-te-ching/
    Another good place to look is What is Tao by Alan Watts http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001O0DLB0/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_2?pf_rd_p=304485901&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0804832641&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1HN2DDC6ZB583X3E78M1

  4. Eastern religion sorta like Buddhism. Instead of posting a wall of text I would recommend you go get a copy of the Tao Te Ching. It’s a short easy read and it’s really good.


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