Cafeausoul logo
Go to home page

What is Taoism?

leaf shadows on wall video on Taoism by Kari Hohne

Watch Video

Taoism is a philosophy inspired by the ways of nature. Nature’s elements, such as the field and force, are represented as Yin and Yang, and embody life’s drive toward change and renewal.

Taoism isn’t a religion – in that it doesn’t focus on the worship of deities or rituals. It is more of a philosophy for living that provides an outlook that is fluid and universal.

Observing the natural order of things, we acquiesce to life’s natural rhythm and the flow of existence.

Removing Boundaries

Taoism is also the practice of removing boundaries. Nothing comes to separate us from all that unfolds around us. As natural creatures in a natural world, we cultivate Ming – or an awareness of our limited perspective.

Emphasizing relativism –truth is not absolute, and we strive to see ‘what is’ in any given moment. Phenomena changes form, and appears different, as in day or night and hot and cold.

Yet, opposites are just variations of the same thing when viewed from different perspectives.

The sun goes, the moon comes. Warm and cold fronts attract each other in a swirl of wind that will balance temperatures across the earth. We avoid extremes or the labels in our judgment that remove us from witnessing how we can be swept up in life’s transformative dance.

We share our breath with the trees and are composed of the exact elements that make up the earth.

Tao as Opposites

Tao cultivates growth, change and renewal…moving back and forth, displaying itself as opposites. High and low, order and chaos, and light and darkness are how it expresses itself as both, Yang or Yin.

However, opposites merely define and complement each other and are deeply intertwined. When anything reaches an extreme – it turns back. The shadows or crevices (Yin) only take form as the light (Yang) moves through hills and valleys.

Without the need to classify or define, we open to the possibilities inherent in the unknown.

Ming as Objectivity

Ming, as our objectivity, allows us to surrender our illusion of how we control the outcome. This leads us back into wonder where we become the guest, not the host. We learn to hover at the threshold of perception to become a witness to the great mystery.

Not knowing keeps us simple. Being simple, we cultivate emptiness. When we are empty of our need to classify, life becomes more profound. Suddenly, all that we miss by taking life for granted can be witnessed as a type of purposeful energy that keeps everything evolving.

Tranquility in Disturbance

We practice tranquility in disturbance so that we can observe how any challenge is shaping in us. Like all of life’s entities, we are an example of its pursuit of unique and better variations.

We cannot discover our capabilities without the prodding of the transformative energy we might label as difficulty.

Tao strengthens our weaknesses and accentuates our gifts. In this way, life will unmask us and coax us out of hiding. It only meets us halfway. The other part of the journey allows us to discover or capabilities.

Ultimately, Taoism is a model that can develop our faith that everything is unfolding perfectly.

Holding onto anything or filling ourselves to quench our endless desires can lead to a type of embroiling or going against the flow. We cannot be led if we don’t let go. We cannot be fulfilled if we are clinging to what we believe we need.

Taoism teaches us to remain accepting and open.

Wu Wei as Effortless Action

By removing boundaries, releasing our assumptions and remaining open and pliable, we practice Wu Wei or effortless action. When we embroil or seek to influence the outcome, we are pulled from our center. We are no longer present and connected to the flow.

"We cannot change the direction of the wind, but can adjust our sails to allow life to guide us."

As we release our tendency toward willfulness, we actually grow stronger. When we overcome others, we have power, but when we overcome ourselves, we are strong.

The practice of Taoism allows life to appear as mysterious and playful. Because of it's pursuit of a better way, attempting to define it removes our ability to be swept up in its drive toward innovation.

Nature is our Teacher

Plants can teach us about not embroiling; water provides a lesson of how being malleable allows us to overcome obstacles. The wind reminds us of the power of the unseen.

Mountains embody a willingness to be shaped in a way that lifts us up. The sun captures how we can rise each day and set off a chain reaction of abundance by simply shining.

We are not special – but we are nurtured like everything else on the earth.. and we can learn from nature’s ways.

When we wander in the unfathomable and identify with the infinite, our return to wonder allows us to participate with life and live more joyfully.

Get Your Free I Ching Reading