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The Tao

Summed Up: "Be Cool — Man."

Lao tzu - Founder of Taoism Lao tzu - Founder of Taoism
Nan-yung Khû said, "And are these all the characteristics of the Perfect man?"

Lao tzu replied, No. These are what we call the breaking up of the ice, and the dissolving of the cold. The Perfect man, along with other men, gets his food from the earth, and derives his joy from his Heaven (-conferred nature). But he does not, like other men, allow himself to be troubled by the consideration of advantage or injury coming from men and things; he does not do strange things as they do, or form plans, or enter into undertakings; he flees from the allurements of desire, and pursues his way with an entire simplicity. Such is the way by which he guards his life.

"And is this what constitutes his perfection?"

Lao tzu said, Not quite. I asked you whether you could become a little child. The little child moves unconscious of what it is doing, and walks unconscious of whither it is going. Its body is like the branch of a rotten tree, and its mind is like slaked lime. Being such, misery does not come to it, nor happiness. It has neither misery nor happiness; - how can it suffer from the calamities incident to men?

Lao tzu continued, He whose mind is thus grandly fixed emits a Heavenly light. In him who emits this heavenly light, men see the (True) man. When a man has cultivated himself (up to this point), thenceforth, he remains constant in himself. When he is thus constant in himself, (what is merely) the human element will leave him, but Heaven will help him. Those whom their human element has left, we call the People of Heaven. Those whom Heaven helps we call the Sons of Heaven.

"And what of self deluding souls?"

Of those who would through learning seek that which they cannot learn, as for those who would by effort attempt what effort can never effect, just as for those who attempt through reasoning to reach through reason where reasoning has no place, for to know to stop where one cannot arrive by means of knowledge is of the highest of attainments, for those who cannot do this shall be destroyed on the Lathe of Heaven.

Where things are all adjusted to maintain the body; where a provision against unforeseen dangers is kept up to maintain the life of the mind; where an inward reverence is cherished to be exhibited (in all intercourse) with others; -where this is done, and yet all evils arrive, they are from Heaven, and not from the men themselves. They will not be sufficient to confound the established (virtue of the character), or be admitted into the Tower of Intelligence. In these people that Tower has its Guardian, who acts unconsciously, and will not let in that which could harm the consciousness.

If one who does not have this entire sincerity within himself, and he makes any outward demonstration, every such demonstration will be incorrect. The thing will enter into him, and not let go its hold. Then with every fresh demonstration there will be still greater failure. If he does something that is not good in the light of open day, men will have the opportunity of punishing him, but if he does that which is not good in darkness and secrecy then the spirits will inflict the punishment. Let a man understand this/his relation both to men and spirits, and then he will do what he knows through his heart is good.

He whose rule of life is in himself, does not act for the sake of a holy name. He whose rule is outside himself, has his will set on the extensive acquisition of wealth and goods. He who does not act for the sake of a name emits a light even in his ordinary conduct; he whose will is set on extensive acquisition is only a trafficker. Real people can see how he merely stands on tiptoe, while he sees himself as standing above others.

Spirits may enter and take possession of one who tries to make themselves acquainted with them, while, when one is indifferent to them, they do not find any lodgment in his person, but how can other men find such lodgment, when one does not allow them into their hearts? There are none who feel attachment to those who do not open their hearts to their fellow men. In this condition one is cut off from other men.

Remember that there is no weapon more deadly against one than ones own will. Remember that there is no robber greater than the Yin and Yang, from whom nothing between heaven and earth can escape, but it is not the Yin and Yang that play the robber; it is the mind that causes Yin and Yang to do so. In these cases, one becomes their own adversary and steals only from themselves.


Lao tzu - Founder of Taoism Lao tzu - Founder of Taoism
Lao tzu (Old Master; 570-490 BC) There are numerous legends about him. Many believe he never existed at all, while historians can point to several possible historical identities for him. Many believe the "Tao te Ching" was written by a number of authors. In any case, the book, it's wisdom and the legends have survived intact for more than two thousand years.

In ancient China, the keeper of the Imperial Library, Lao tzu, was famous for his wisdom. Perceiving the growing corruption of the government, he left for the countryside. On his way, the guard at the city gates asked Lao tzu to write out the essence of his understanding to benefit future generations. Lao tzu wrote the Tao te Ching, left, and was never heard of again.

The Tao te Ching (also called "The Tao", "The Dao" or the "Dao De Jing"), by Lao tzu, is one of the most influential books in history. It is the source of famous Chinese sayings such as "Those who know do not speak, those who speak, do not know" and "Even a 1,000 mile journey starts with a single step".

Lao tzu taught that all straining, all striving are not only vain but counterproductive. One should endeavor to discern and follow the natural forces -- to follow and shape the flow of events and not to pit oneself against the natural order of things. First and foremost to be spontaneous in ones actions.

In this sense the Taoist doctrine of wu-wei can be understood as a way of mastering circumstances by understanding their nature or principal, and then shaping ones actions in accordance with these. This understanding has also infused the approach to movement as it is developed in Tai Chi Chuan.

Lao tzu - Founder of Taoism

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