It is virtually impossible to define Tao, even though the book Tao Te Ching has been translated into more languages than any other book, with the exception of the Bible.
Tao, the timeless rhythm of life and the synthesis of the seen and the unseen, has been a source for spiritual strength and higher wisdom for many. This article aims to explain what Tao is, and the principles behind it.
The translation of the word Tao means the way. The calligraphic symbol for Tao consists of a head signifying wisdom and a foot representing walking, so it means a way of life. Tao’s origins go back to prehistoric Chinese religions, the composition of Tao Te Ching (3rd-4th century BC), and the activity of Zhang Daoling (2nd century).
Tao is a living philosophy, not an ideology or a New Age movement. It is a way of thinking and living with the change that life offers and not against it. Tao helps you to see the larger picture in life. Instead of failure you see opportunity, instead of competition you see cooperation, instead of winning you see enjoyment.
Something mysteriously formed, Born before heaven and earth. In the silence and the void, Standing alone and unchanging, Ever present and in motion. Perhaps it is the mother of ten thousand things. I do not know its name. Call it Tao. – Tao Te Ching.
According to Lynch and Huang, in the book Working Out Working Within, Tao is practiced through following these principles:
- Tze Jan/Spontaneity – being spontaneous you learn personal power and attain self-discovery.
- Wu Wei/Non-interference – work with nature not against it, follow the path of least resistance.
- Tai Ji/Stillness in Motion/Movement – focusing on the act, on the now.
- Ying Yang/Polarity Balancing – understand that all has two polarities and accept it.
- I Pien/Change & Transformation – have the flexibility to change in accordance to the natural cycles.
- Yung Qi/The Vital Force of Life – learn that all is made up of chi, and learn how to harness the power of it.
- Te/Personal Power – see setbacks as strengths, opportunities to grow, and understand that power is achieved by not seeking power at all.
- Feng Liu/Windflow Grace – naturally swim with the flow, not against it and enjoy the process.
Let the above principles start you on a never-ending journey. These strategies and tools can be applied to any area of your life, as Tao’s influence penetrates all that exists in nature.
The Tao never does anything, yet through it all things are done. – Tao Te Ching.