4 Teachings of Taoism To Help Navigate Life
In a modern world that never sleeps, anyone could benefit from the simplicity found in Taoism. This way of thought goes beyond just an esoteric ancient Chinese philosophy, and anybody can grasp some of its key concepts with a few quotes from one of Taoism’s most important books, the Tao Te Ching.
This wisdom coupled with your spiritual awakening lays a simple framework for achieving a more harmonious life with a mindset of simplicity.
What is Taoism?
Taoism comes from Ancient China and the writings of philosophers like Lao Tzu, who lived during the 5th or 4th century BCE. This philosophy, which some consider a religion, teaches how to live in harmony with the world. The word tao itself means “the way,” the pattern and substance of everything.
In his most famous collection of teachings, the Tao Te Jing, Lao Tzu explains how to act following the alternating cycles of nature; in other words: a person needs to “go with the flow.” Looking at a few meaningful quotes from work reveals deep wisdom on navigating life better.
1. SIMPLICITY, PATIENCE, COMPASSION
“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”
WHAT DOES IT TEACH: Life can get complicated quickly, but sometimes all we need to do is get back to the basics. When feeling overwhelmed, Taoist guidelines present essential rules on managing actions, relationships, and self-worth in a few concise sentences.
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2. GOING WITH THE FLOW
“When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.”
WHAT DOES IT TEACH: This quote explains the Taoist concept of Wu Wei, uncontrived action or natural non-intervention. Rather than fighting against the conditions in our lives, we can allow things to take their natural course. This can also mean that when you don’t know what to do, do nothing. Instead, only jump at opportunities when you feel ready.
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3. LETTING GO
“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”
WHAT DOES IT TEACH: Many Eastern philosophies remind us of the only true constants in life, change, and death. While not an easy thing to do, accepting these facts of life can release you from as much suffering and bring freedom in life. In Taoism, we must remember to let go and allow life to take its course.
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“Tao engenders One; One engenders Two; Two engenders Three; Three engenders all things. All things carry the yin (femininity) while embracing the yang (masculinity). Neutralizing energy brings them into harmony.”
WHAT DOES IT TEACH: In Taoism, the Chinese concept of yin and yang describes nature in dualities with two opposite, complementary, and interdependent forces. In other words, two halves balancing together make a whole. Yin and yang always flow and changes with time. One aspect increases as the other decreases, and this balance continues as a pattern in nature. The night becomes the day. The sky meets the earth.
Examining and understanding these patterns in ourselves and around us brings more balance in life. For example, a person that becomes too rigid may break under pressure. Instead, they should become softer and more flexible to restore yin and yang balance.
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