Essay, Research Paper: Taoism Applied


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Taoism applied to everyday life "Practice not-doing and everything will
fall into place" (Chapter 3). In Taoism this is the concept known as "wu
wei". Wei wu wei is the practice of doing and not-doing. This concept comes
from the theory of the Yin and Yang. The Yang, along with wei, is the practice
of doing. The Yin, along with wu wei, is the practice of not-doing. One
compliments the other, and each cannot exist alone. The Tao tells people to
practice not-doing because it will bring happiness in their life. By not-doing,
the Tao means not performing actions, which are unnecessary and uncalled for.
People should just take things as they come in life and they will live a life
full of happiness and pleasure. If you don't interfere with the Tao and let
things take their natural course, everything will work out in your life (Chapter
10). "If powerful men and women could remain centered in the Tao…all
people would be at peace…" (Chapter 32). If you work against your Tao,
you will never find happiness. The Sage practices wu wei. He teaches without
words and performs without actions (Chapter 43). He knows and therefore does not
speak (Chapter 56). Many people mistake conceptual knowledge for the map to the
territory. The Sage is our map to the Tao. He points his finger to show us the
way, but does not really tell us what to do and how to practice Taoism. Lao
Tzu's concepts of the Tao can be a guide to rational living. If one follows
these beliefs he is guaranteed happiness in his life. However, it is very
difficult to follow the Tao, even though the teachings are said to be easily
understood and easily put into practice (Chapter 70). The reason the Tao is so
difficult to grasp is because you cannot know that you are practicing it. The
Tao is beyond all words. If you give it words, it does not exist. It is
unnamable. If you concentrate on the Tao, you will never understand it. You
cannot think about it, you must just do it. This is very difficult because
people always think about what they do, but this does not work with the Tao
(Chapter 1). You cannot look for the Tao; you cannot listen for the Tao. You
must just accept the idea that it is always there, omnipresent, and you can't
see it. This is all very important because if one cannot understand these first
simple steps in Taoism, they will be lost the rest of the way. In personal life,
you should never define yourself. When you define yourself, you are actually
putting limits on yourself. If a man defines himself as a doctor, he is limiting
himself to science. If a man defines himself as a singer, he is limiting himself
to music. By limiting yourself, you are not allowing yourself to experience life
fully (Chapter 24). Also, you should never define any object because they will
always have an opposite. If you define something as "good" then its
opposite is defined as "bad", when in reality it might not be (Chapter
2). When a man is about to buy a car, he will want to buy a company with a
"good name". He has defined one car as "good" and the rest
are "bad". When he realizes he cannot afford the "good" car
he is unhappy. He has to buy a "bad" car. While driving his
"bad" car, he thinks about what people will say. He worries that they
will not approve of his new purchase. If the man had not originally set such
high expectations of buying a "good" car, he would not be upset with
his situation. By caring about other people's approval he becomes their
"prisoner" (Chapter 9). If you see things as they are, then you will
be happy with whatever you have. If you see things through other's eyes then you
will never achieve the high goals you are setting. "In family life, be
completely present" (Chapter 8). All family members should always be there
for each other. You should be completely present for the rest of your family,
this way other members can talk to you whenever necessary. This gives a sense of
security to the rest of the family. Parents should always be there for their
children, children should always be there for their parents, and siblings should
always be there for each other. "Because (the Sage) has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words" (Chapter 22). The Sage and the parental figures
of a family should have this in common. Parents have nothing to prove to their
children and therefore children always believe what their parents tell them.
Parents do not have to impress their children and can therefore set an example.
If parents cannot have this connection with their children, there is a guarantee
of failure in the family. "In work, do what you enjoy" (Chapter 8).
Most people hate their job. If you like what you do, you can wake up every
morning with a smile, looking forward to the day of work that lies ahead of you.
At your job you should not try to hold all the power. By not trying to be
powerful, you are truly powerful (Chapter 38). Also, in you work you cannot
chase after money. You must do your work because you like it, not because you
want the money. If you chase after money "your heart will never
unclench" (Chapter 9). When you have no desire for the money, you are at
peace (Chapter 37). You must "be content with what you have, rejoice in the
way things are" (Chapter 44). You mustn't expect too much because you will
never get what you want. "When you realize there is nothing lacking, the
whole world belongs to you" (Chapter 44). "In governing, don't try to
control" (Chapter 8). As a leader, it is best if the people hardly know
that you exist. As a leader, you must not be bossy and try to have all the power
because the people will hate you and will not obey you. You must lead, not
control (Chapter 17). By pointing people in the right direction you are helping
them. By telling them where to go, you aren't letting them think for themselves.
The best leader listens to her people (Chapter 68). As a leader you must govern
with tolerance and you must not have high expectations of your people because
you will never get what you expect (Chapter 58). You must govern a country with
moderation for the best results (Chapter 59). If you have weapons, your people
will be insecure. If you have laws, your people will break them. If you do not
desire common good it will become as "common as grass" (Chapter 57).
If a nation does not get involved with the affairs of others, it will be well
respected by all other nations (Chapter 61). "If you overesteem great men,
people become powerless. If you overvalue possessions, people begin to
steal" (Chapter 3). Society should not define things because bad things
will happen. If you overvalue possessions it is obvious that people will steal
them because they are worth something to society. If everything had none or
equal value, no one would steal anything because nothing would be more important
than everything else. This is an extreme suggestion however, it is the only way
for society to come together as a whole and have no one steal from others.
"Let the Tao become present in your life and you will become genuine. Let
it be present in your family and your family will flourish. Let it be present in
your country and your country will be an example to all countries in the world.
Let it be present in the universe and the universe will sing." (Chapter
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