Daoism: a philosophy of life

Daoism is not a religion, the Philosophical Daoists believe the Dao Jia is a philosophy of life. Taoism is translated into English simply as “the way or path.” Every Taoist believes the goal in life is to become one with the Tao “Taoist Beliefs”. Taoism is pronounced (Dow-ism), and it means path or the way. Taoism very vague and has to be experienced, it “refers to a power which envelops, surrounds and flows through all things, living and non-living. The Tao regulates natural processes and nourishes balance in the universe. To the Philosophical Daoist what is most real is nature. The Daoists believe that nature is constantly changing and as it does so do the patterns and processes. With nature changing constantly there are things or occurrences that can arrive unexpectedly, “emergent properties.”As for humans they are a natural part of nature, and it is necessary for them to depend upon it, for their living and well being necessities. Living an excellent life according to the Daoists would have to be trying not to conquer the natural world. And trying not to mend it into ways in which it would only help in achieving wealth and riches, but instead to go with the flow of the natural world.

Therefore, to live an excellent life, they would do so by flowing with the natural occurrences and processes of the world. The Taoist path to salvation is called Wu Wei, meaning “the principle of non-action.” The way to attain unity with the Tao involves no effort, ambition, discipline, or education. Since it is the “principle of non-action,” it is important to understand Wu Wei is not avoiding of action, but of certain types of action, such as: aggressive, controlling, coercive, manipulative or intimidating. Therefore, each person has an equal opportunity to attain balance. It involves surrender to nature: since every person is by definition part of the Tao, there is no need or reason to seek it elsewhere. Furthermore, everyone has direct access to the Tao because the Tao is connected to reality, and everyone is a part of reality. In summary, there is no need to seek answers outside of oneself. Through non-action the answer is revealed through one’s own existence. Wu wei can also be expressed in everyday life, it is considered “going with the flow of things.”

For example, trying to reach a certain place but doing so by polluting or disrupting natural order is not Wu Wei, rather by reaching a certain destination by fitting in with the natural order of the environment and nature. Wu wei is the living a person who in touch with the understanding of Dao. Many may be quick to believe that the Philosophical Daoists are pacifists because they do not disrupt the way of the natural being. But, that would be an inaccurate statement. Fighting and warfare are recognized as occasional necessities, they were something that had to be done, and the Philosophical Daoists had a certain way of approaching it. Daoism is strongly against unnecessary warfare and do not glorify it as certain militaries would. The Dao De Jing believes, “Military weapons are inauspicious instruments…so when you have no choice but to use them…do so cooly but without enthusiasm” (Dao De Jing 31). Clearly it is evident that the Daoists are not pacifists, they believe violence has to occur, but there is a way to approach it without giving it glorification and excitement. Lastly, Daoism is deeply rooted in the love of nature and its wholeness. Humans are a part of nature and could live peacefully if they followed the way of Daoists.

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