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Taoist philosophy

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Taoist philosophy

Daoism : Taoist philosophy

From the Way arises one (that which is aware), from which awareness in turn arises the concept of two (yin and yang), from which the number three is implied (heaven, earth and humanity); finally producing by extension the entirety of the world as we know it, the ten thousand things, through the harmony of the Wuxing. The Way as it cycles through the five elements of the Wuxing is also said to be circular, acting upon itself through change to affect a cycle of life and death in the ten thousand things of the phenomenal universe.
Act in accordance with nature, and with finesse rather than force.
The correct perspective should be found for one's mental activities until a deeper source is found for guiding one's interaction with the universe (see 'wu wei' below). Desire hinders one's ability to understand The Way (see also karma), and tempering desire breeds contentment. Taoists believe that when one desire is satisfied, another, more ambitious desire will simply spring up to replace it. In essence, most Taoists feel that life should be appreciated as it is, rather than forced to be something it is not. Ideally, one should not desire anything, not even non-desire.
Oneness: By realising that all things (including ourselves) are interdependent and constantly redefined as circumstances change, we come to see all things as they are, and ourselves as a simple part of the current moment. This understanding of oneness leads us to an appreciation of life's events and our place within them as simple miraculous moments which "simply are".
Dualism, the opposition and combination of the Universe's two basic principles of Yin and Yang is a large part of the basic philosophy. Some of the common associations with Yang and Yin, respectively, are: male and female, light and dark, active and passive, motion and stillness. Taoists believe that neither side is more important or better than the other; indeed, neither can exist without the other, as they are equal aspects of the whole. They are ultimately an artificial distinction based on our perceptions of the ten thousand things, so it is only our perception of them that really changes.

Wu Wei

Much of the essence of Tao is in the art of wu wei (action through inaction). However, this does not mean, "sit doing nothing and wait for everything to fall into your lap". It describes a practice of accomplishing things through minimal action. By studying the nature of life, you can affect it in the easiest and least disruptive way (using finesse rather than force). The practice of working with the stream rather than against it is an illustration; one progresses the most not by struggling against the stream and thrashing about, but by remaining still and letting the stream do all the work.

Wu Wei works once we trust our human "design," which is perfectly suited for our place within nature. In other words, by trusting our nature rather than our mental contrivances, we can find contentment without a life of constant striving against forces real and imagined.


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