The Ancient Power of the Tao
You’ve probably seen the Yin and Yang plastered all over the place during your lifetime.
Books, TV, magazines, art, graffiti…actually just about anywhere. It’s a popular symbol to say the least!
But what does it mean?
This popular (if not, almost overused) symbol stands for something ancient and powerful to many people: the Tao.
The Tao (pronounced Dao), is a traditional Chinese concept that means “path” or “road”, and has formed the backbone of much of China’s history.
Becoming One with the Tao
So what’s the Tao all about?
To put it simply, the Tao philosophy encompasses and signifies the primordial nature of the universe.
In the Tao Te Ching, Laozi states that the Tao isn’t a name for a “thing”, but the underlying natural order of the universe, whose true essence is difficult to understanding logically, but can be experienced in everyday living.
The whole point of this philosophy, then, is to go beyond concepts and ideas and harmonize oneself with nature and the universe. In other words: embrace reality.
That means it can’t be expressed in words or ideas, but rather experienced.
This is the act of becoming one with the Tao, and is considered to be enlightenment.
The Principles of the Tao
In a way, the Tao can be considered the flow of the universe.
To be outside of this flow is not helpful to an individual, while being in it gives life powerful purpose and fulfillment leading to enlightenment.
This “flow” represents something that the rest of the universe lacks: oneness. The Tao is the one thing that’s non-dual in a universe that’s full of duality.
It’s the greater whole from which all things come.
In the book Tao Te Ching, Laozi lays out the following basic rules:
- Non-contention Lao Tzu noted that violence and conflict could not help but cause negative side effects. It’s far better to solve things by peaceful means.
- Non-action Those that’re steeped in wisdom tend to attract and create whatever they want, while those who try and do everything tend to accomplish very little.
- Non-intention True virtue is a state where such actions flow forth naturally, coming from attunement with the universe, and don’t necessarily require an intention.
- Simplicity The real basis of reality is simplicity! Humans like to complicate, however, and make everything harder. Attuning to the Tao brings everything together.
- Wisdom This is difference between living the Tao and reading about it. Experience is everything!
- Humility \Against the great mystery of life and the universe, how can we not be humble? Humility forms the backbone of a seeker of truth.
- Duality Lao Tzu pointed out that all qualities have a polar opposite, like night and day. But the Tao transcends those dualities and bring the awareness of a single reality behind them.
Applying the Tao
There’s no doubt that the Tao is an incredibly interesting philosophy, and one that cannot be served very well in such a short article!
But nonetheless, the principles above are great concepts to start with.
“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.” ? Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching