Taoism, along with Confucianism and Buddhism, is one of the three great religions of China. The founder of Taoism is beleived to have been Lao-Tsu 老子(604-531 BC), he was also the author of the Tao-te-Ching. His association with the Tào Té Chīng has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of philosophical Taoism (pronounced as “Daoism”). He is also revered as a deity in most religious forms of Taoist philosophy, which often refers to Laozi as Taishang Laojun, or “One of the Three Pure Ones”.
According to Chinese traditions, Laozi lived in the 6th century BCE. Some historians contend that he actually lived in the 5th-4th century BCE, concurrent with the Hundred Schools of Thought and Warring States Period, while some others argue that Laozi is a synthesis of multiple historical figures or that he is a mythical figure.
A central figure in Chinese culture, both nobility and common people claim Laozi in their lineage. He was honored as an ancestor of the Tang imperial family, and was granted the title Táishāng xuānyuán huángdì, meaning “Supreme Mysterious and Primordial Emperor”. Throughout history, Laozi’s work has been embraced by various anti-authoritarian movements.
Lao-Tsu created a philosposhy and way of life that is peaceful and in harmony with nature. Taoism has influenced acupuncture, holistic medicine and martial arts such as Tai Chi and Chi Kung. The Yin/Yang is a well known Taoist symbol showing two curved shapes within a circle, one black and one white, each containing part of the other.
It symbolises any two dualistic forces, such as light and dark, male and female.
Practice this form of meditation when you feel you need to be more connected and in harmony with nature.
1) Sit or stand near a river or stream at a spot where you can be quiet and undisturbed. Breathe deeply for a few minutes to quieten and center your mind.
2) Notice how the water flows over and around the rocks or tree roots. Contenplate how life is more harmonious when you do not resist it or go against it.
The Taoist term Wu-Wei means ‘Not Forcing’, it means going with the flow or swimming with the current rather than against it. It means not winning in order to achieve higher goals.
3) Contemplate how you feel when trying to force an issue or make something happen according to your wishes. Even if you do get your way, how do you feel being in conflict and competition with others? Was that the best approach for all involved?
4) Wu-Wei is an approach to life in which you observe the flow of energy and human behaviour and choose the most harmonious way of dealing with it. Observe the stream and how water flows by choosing the path of least resistance. How can you use this wisdom of nature to make your life and the lives of those around you more peaceful and harmonious?