TAO, pronounced "dow" (as in 'cow'), refers to a Chinese non-dualistic philosophy of awareness and harmony.
TAO is an energy that flows through the universe, and often refered to as "The Way" or flow of that energy. There are many terms and references to this, such as qi, wu wei, 'effortless action', yin yang energy, and various methods to access this energy, such as meditation, Feng Shui, Tai Chi,
and the I CHING.
The " TAO I CHING ~ The Mystic Gateway "
will define TAO, and its' function and use in the world, in the first chapter.
An amazing book with a set of Elements
provides the easiest and most dynamic way
to select all the Hexagrams
and changing lines of the I CHING.
In plain English, with full instructions.
Taoists often tell us not to use terms, or descriptions (to define the meaning of "TAO" ), because it's all about direct experience, not words or thoughts.
TAO is an idea, allbeit a spiriual one, of an energy that manifests and functions everywhere. This takes on the mystical qualities of creation, and, as far as Taoists are concerned, dimensions and qualities that are beyond mere words or descriptions.
However, to account for Chance and Change in the world, this energy is 'divided' into two different flows or directions - each supporting or competing with the other, to produce all the 'effects' or conditions in the world.
At the very start, the ancient Chinese, looking at Nature, were able to see these effects, and determined that there must be a cause or origin in the form of an 'energy'. One flow or 'direction' of this energy was seen as forceful, pushing, and persistant ~ much like the water of a mountain stream.
Another flow, direction, or form, of this energy could be seen as expansive, growing, increasing, and cyclical in nature ~ perhaps like clouds forming, or trees filling-out with leaves and fruit in the Summer, only to release it all, and start again, later. In both cases the 'force' of energy affects the landscape, sometimes dramatically, or over time, or in more ephemeral ways.
The next step was simple, yet the consequences were profound. These two different 'types' of (the same) energy could be represented by a line, or a divided line.
So, 'pushing' energy can now be represented by a single line, (Yang energy) and the 'expansive' energy as a dashed, or divided, line (Yin energy). By combining these lines together, since the energy may have a number of variations, or attributes, there was another
great leap in the understanding of this energy :
the TRIGRAM was constructed with three lines of energy.
Each trigram shows the power and direction of this energy, and every edition of the I Ching will reveal this (although, usually, in symbolic terms). By combining the forces of two trigrams, with one placed on top of another, a six line HEXAGRAM symbol was formed (in fact 64 of them).
These could now be used to reveal the energy
in any situation.
Only in the the TAO I CHING,
with a special set of ELEMENTS,
can this energy be easily translated into personal energy
and manipulated or changed by you
to promote harmony, awareness, and inner peace.
Yes, you can purchse this from
ADAM AND EVE
PAINTED BY PETER PAUL RUBENS 1597
FIRST EMPORER OF CHINA 2852 BC
At the start, there was Adam and Eve. What is relevant about this picture is that both people are naked, and this introduces a concept or idea, or a way of being in, and 'using', the world. At the same time, another picture shows Fu Hsi ( pronounced "Foo Shee" ), the first mythical emporer of China, at around 2852 B.C. He wears skins and furs to indicate that he has a background in hunting and agriculture, and 'uses' the natural forces of Nature.
To explain the nature of the universe and everything the Ancient Chinese came up with the idea that "There is a flow of energy running through the universe, that forms and influences everything". They called it "TAO". This flow of energy animates everything ~ all things, places, and beings. The energy flows through everything and everyone, and as it does so, it animates and gives life. Everything is alive when this energy passes through it. Stones, water, trees, animals, people, and even places !
TAO is not exactly 'the life force', since it includes inanimate (non-alive) objects. TAO flows through everything. You could see this in and through the act of looking, hearing, moving, and, if you have a mind to, thought. Even the rocks and trees see and hear, and, in a 'mindless' way , are aware. In your own dreams you don't need eyes, ears, or limbs, to travel distances, or be involved and experience things, while you actually lie inert in bed. If you look with your heart (with sensitivity, intuition ) and not only with your eyes, you will see and understand more. You can see, feel, and know, this for yourself by simply looking and listening to everything around you, without thoughts, mental judgements or comparisons. This period of "looking", only lasts uninterrupted for, maybe 30 seconds, or up to 2 minutes, before the next wave of TAO energy rushes through you. Without this flow of energy you are inert.
The Ancient Chinese represented all of this energy with symbols, to show the direction and 'speed' of the energy.
This is the start of History. From an early Shamanistic culture, using tortoise shells for divination, inscribing bones, and later, bamboo strips, to record information, the ancient Chinese developed a system that could record and predict the seasons, and, later, events and human behaviour.
This energy 'gives life or awareness' and changes everything, and it can go in two very different directions. By living close to Nature and the elements, all the clues to these flows or directions of energy are observable. Today, however, almost everything around us is 'man-made' in our modern civilization, but that close connection can be re-established by a walk in the country, or looking at the sky, or being exposed to the weather.
Later the endless sub-classifications, of “Yin” and “Yang” energy were added. Social, family, career, and even domestic, elements were introduced, and more symbols added. Through these symbols TAO energy can be manipulated ~ introducing the 'I Ching', Feng Shui, and Tai Chi, and various other systems.
As this became more formalised The Great Books were writen, and the I Ching took on the status of a spiritual classic, and much like the Bible - not a book to be altered, although the interpretations and 'commentaries' continued for hundreds of years. Today, of course, we have the profound mystery of that half black half white round symbol, and that great saying 'Going with the flow'.
Unfortunately, 'that flow' goes in two very different directions,
which everyone misunderstands to their great misfortune.
You could find out what 'went wrong' by looking at
" TAO I CHING ~ The Mystic Gateway ".
The rest is history.
The TAO I CHING
The Mystic Gateway
is a profound and spiritual insight into the human condition. The way we use our energy determines the course and quality of our lives. The TAO I CHING will show you how to live in the present, with inner peace and confidence.
Since 1982 most published works use the term ' Dao' rather than the Westernised 'Tao'. Tao, or 'Dao' (pronounced 'dow' as in 'cow') is a Chinese concept signifying 'way', 'path', or 'route'. Dao is also used symbolically as indicating the 'right way' towards spiritual perfection or enlightenment.
From an original work by Lao Tzu, the "Tao Te Ching", ('Dao De Jing'), a philosophy and a religion developed, which is referred to as Taoism (Daoism, pronounced 'Dowism'). Even though there is no direct worship as such, there are, in the religious forms of Taoism, standards of ethical and moral behaviour, as well as principles of action, and authenticity (the following of particular schools of thought), which reflect not only main tenets, but individual approaches. The positive extent of this way of thinking can be used as a personal template for thought and action.
Quietly productive without stress.
Happy without acquisitive thoughts.
Enjoying your food,
and comfortable in your clothes.
Living simply, using what you have,
with interest and compassion.
At peace with yourself,
Independent and aware,
to be content in the world.
" TAO TE CHING
The Meaning and Power of TAO "
" The secret of TAO the Taoists never told you"
Tao is "the underlying structure and functioning of the universe". Lao Tzu explains in the 'Tao Te Ching' that Tao is not about divine creation or intervention, but rather 'an experience of being alive'. TAO is an intuitive understanding of who and where we are in the present moment, which goes beyond the normal notions of identity and status, and even purpose and meaning. It is in one sense ordinary, and yet profound.
In most of the Taoist literature, and especially in the Tao Te Ching, much is made of the fact that Tao should not be defined or expressed in words. This does seem to add a layer of confusion over a simple principle 'to not get carried away by theory and concepts'. It is in essence quite simple, but our attention is invariably taken over by other ideas and involvements.
Lao Tzu (or more correctly, the philosophical approach adopted at the start by authors or editors unknown) goes on to explain that the Tao is "eternally nameless”, and not to be confused with concepts about it, or descriptions of it. Our naming of it, and the explanations and reasons, may well take us away from what it actually is.
The classical Chinese work on a practical application of TAO, dating back 3000 years, is the I Ching which shows, and predicts, the energy in every situation one could face in life. Due to its' age and formulation it does tend to be obscured by symbolism. To this end the "Tao I Ching ~ The Mystic Gateway" was published in 2008 to define Tao, provide an essential understanding of yin and yang energy, and a practical guide to thought and action, with the predictive capabilities of the I Ching.
The ancient Chinese developed the idea of an energy that formed, and ran through, the universe. This was called "Qi". This was further developed into Yin and Yang (energy), which is a duality, and combination of energy in all things ('the dynamic balance between opposites') ~ not in the very basic sense of male and female attributes, but in the direction of the flow of energy. In Chinese philosophy yin and yang is taken much further into worldly matters and is the basis of Feng Shui and Traditional Chinese Medicine. However, the Tao is "a non-dualistic concept", which means that it recognizes, accepts, and assimilates, all of these principles in "a way through life". The object is to 'become one with the flow of energy' (Tao), as 'an understanding without reaction', so that one's actions are without strain or effort. This is called 'action without force', or 'non-action', or 'effortless action' (Wu wei). Wu wei means literally 'non-doing', but a simpler interpretation would be wu meaning "without" and wei meaning "effort", (as an absence of intention and expectation).
This introduces the idea of action that is easy, perhaps spontaneous, without excessive force or control, and here some would say "Going with the flow", which could erroneously indicate a lazy, or confident, approach. Far from it. The concept of "effortless action" is adopted as part of the rigorous training of the Taoist martial arts such as T'ai chi ch'uan (t'ai chi), Baguazhang and Chi Kung (Qigong). As to 'the lazy approach' perceived as without competitive urgency and involvement, Lao Tzu refers to this as the "diminishing will" and our sense of the loss of the control (through thoughts and notions) over our lives and others.
In Taoist philosophy the energy of the universe is automatic and functions without our involvement, and if we intervene or try to control, to 'get more', we merely interfere and upset the balance. This is not to say that we should do nothing, but that we should act in accordance with what is around us and inside us. For most this 'state of mind' and practice will require some form of spiritual practice, usually through meditation, improving awareness, and self development, which can introduce yet another Taoist concept "Te" or "De" (virtue, or integrity). Te is the effect, or response to, Tao, in a person who is in harmony in themselves with their place, and time, in the world, which is further encouraged through activity, rather than a purely philosophical or mystical outlook.
In some sense, you cannot practice Taoism (that would be 'effort or intention for control'), but it is the result of a quiet awareness of ourselves and the world around us.
and, if you ever wondered where it's all going
Peace of Mind
A series of insights
to use as a practical template.
The meaning and power of TAO
in plain English,
"What the Taoists never mentioned"
THE EIGHT TRIGRAMS
THAT MAKE-UP THE HEXAGRAMS OF THE I CHING.
TAO I CHING TOM LEWORTHY 2015