Taoism, The Great Way of Life

There was something formless and perfect

Before the universe was born.

It is serene. Empty.

Solitary. Unchanging.

Infinite. Eternally present.

It is the mother of the universe.

For lack of a better name,

I call it the Tao.

Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching #25

What is the “Tao”? It is a Chinese word which means “Way”. Buddha also spoke of this One Way, and even Jesus said, “I am the Way…” I believe they were all referring to the Void, this great Everything; God, in the universal sense. Finding words to describe this Force is difficult. I recommend quantum physics as another avenue towards understanding (check out the book The Tao of Physics by Frijof Capra). I call this Way of Life “Surfing the Tao”, and I use the wisdom from various sources to further the message.

“All things, material and spiritual, originate from one source and are related as if they were one family. The past, present, and future are all contained in the life force. The universe emerged and developed from one source, and we evolved through the optimal process of unification and harmonization.” -Ueshiba, The Art of Peace.

Simple realization of this Tao, or Way, can change ones perspective radically. Introspection and meditation can lead one to higher levels of awareness and understanding. One eventually realizes that it is the pursuit of the impersonal wherein realization of the Self arises: when one understands that All is One, and there is no Self – that is, that we are rather part of the Great Self – then our daily sufferings become perceptively smaller.

Emptiness here, Emptiness there,

But the infinite universe stands

Always before your eyes.

Infinitely large and infinitely small;

No difference, for definitions have vanished

And no boundaries are seen…

One thing, all things:

Move among and intermingling,

Without distinction.

To live in this realization

Is to be without anxiety about non-perfection.

-Buddha

Sounds like Lao Tzu, doesn’t it? Buddha, like Lao Tzu, also suggests not to dislike the world of senses and ideas, but just to realize, with enlightenment there is no liking or disliking. Lao Tzu said, “the Master observes the world but trusts his inner vision. He allows things to come and go. His heart is open as the sky.”

These masters taught us, that even though reality as we see it is an illusion, that to be a good and loving person within it is important. They teach compassion, harmony, peace, generosity and serenity. Buddha said, “To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with limited views are fearful and irresolute; the faster they hurry, the slower they go, and attachment cannot be limited: even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray. Just let things be in their own way and there will be neither coming nor going.”

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3 Responses to “Taoism, The Great Way of Life”

  1. The Rambling Taoist Says:

    While I agree with the overall gist of this post, I do disagree with one point. From my readings of the Tao Te Ching, I have never gotten the impression that Lao Tzu believed that earthly reality is an illusion.

    Since all things are part of Tao, then nothing is an illusion or everything is.

  2. A.V. Michaels Says:

    Thank you for your comment. Indeed one can read the Tao Te Ching and find simply wisdom pertaining to how to live life in our world, for I do believe this is why he wrote it – for the common man, who is struggling. Perhaps it is just a matter of semantics, or one’s one interpretation, but I find his descriptions of the Tao can lead one to conclude that this reality is not the be-all and end-all of Everything. He encourages us not to be led by our senses (#52); to concern ourselves with the depths and not the surface (#38); that the world is formed from the void (#28); and that the Tao is beyond is and is not (#21). He cautions us to observe the world, but trust our inner vision (#12). In a sense I agree with your statement, “Since all things are part of the Tao, then nothing is an illusion or everything is.” I believe he was trying to explain that the Tao is greater than anything we can know from looking around with our eyes. To truly Know we must look within ourselves, learn to become detached from desire in the physical world, and view our daily troubles as meaningless in the grand scheme.

  3. The Rambling Taoist Says:

    Good points. Our differences in interpretation are probably more semantics than anything else.


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