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Chinese Philosophies and Religions


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Taoism and A Few Words about Tao

Taoism is a philosophy, a religion and also the basis for Traditional Chinese Medication. It represents the wisdom accumulated over 5,000 years of Chinese history. Together with Confucianism and Buddhism, it has been continuously guiding Chinese in behaviors and governing.

There are some very basic different approaches taken by the West and Chinese philosophies. The West treats individual as an independent and separate entity. Chinese treats individual as an element in the whole universe and is interrelated. West tends to be self-centered and thus any blame will be first on others. On the opposite, Chinese is taught to merge self into the environment as a whole or there is no self at all. Tao and Taoism are different from "God" and "Bible". To understand Taoism, one has to "unlearn" or break out from own paradigm to view it from a completely new angle.

"Tao" means "behavior, understanding and the constant changing from and to". Taoism is a philosophy and a belief of simplicity and the very nature of universe. There is no absolute "stillness". Everything, including the universe, is changing all the time. The relative "stability" can be achieved when a harmony is reached between "Yin" and "Yang", which are said to be the opposite but related natural forces in the universe. There are five elements in everything. The following diagram described their interrelationship.


Taoism teaches Chinese to go alone with the nature, to seek harmony in life and meditate for mental peacefulness and "emptiness". Any act to one extreme will cause the opposite reaction in force until the balance is reached.

Toa De Jin was a book published 260BC and the following are some of the translations.  

To behave in a society

The best of man is like water,
  Which benefits all things, and does not contend with them,
  Which flows in places that others disdain,

  Where it holds fast to Tao.

 So the sage:

  In dwelling holds fast to the land,
  In governing holds fast to order,
  In talking holds fast to truth,
  In dealing holds fast to men,
  In acting holds fast to opportunity,
  In crafting holds fast to competence,
  In feeling holds fast to the heart;
He does not contend, and so is without blame.

Excessive desire is the cause of a problem society

Not praising the worthy prevents cheating
Not esteeming the rare prevents theft
Not flaunting beauty prevents lust
So the sage controls people by:
 Emptying their hearts,
 Filling their bellies,
 Weakening their ambitions,
 And strengthening their bodies.

If people lack knowledge and desire
 The crafty among them can not act;
If no action is taken
Then all live in peace.

Selfish is the first hurdle of one's success  

Nature is everlasting because it does not have a Self.

In this way the sage:
Serves his Self last and finds it served first;
Sees his body as accidental and finds it endures.
Because he does not serve his Self, he is content.

Let nature take its own course and no interfere

When Beauty is recognized in the World
   Ugliness has been learned;
When Good is recognized in the World
   Evil has been learned.

In this way:
  Alive and dead are abstracted from growth;
  Difficult and easy are abstracted from progress;
  Far and near are abstracted from position;
  Strong and weak are abstracted from control;
  Song and speech are abstracted from harmony;
  After and before are abstracted from sequence.
The sage controls without authority,
   And teaches without words;

He lets all things rise and fall,
   Nurtures, but does not interfere,
   Gives without demanding,
   And is content.

Control or Nurture the World

The saints said: "Praise and blame cause anxiety;
   The objects of hope and fear are within your Self."
   "Praise and blame cause anxiety"
   For you must hope and fear to receive or to lose them.
   "The objects of hope and fear are within your Self"
   For, without Self, neither fortune nor disaster can befall.

   He who regards the World as the Self is able to control the World;
   He who loves the World as the Self is able to nurture the World.

The world can not be changed by one's will

Those who wish to change the World
  According with their desire
  Cannot succeed.

The World is shaped by Tao;
   It cannot be shaped by Self.
   If one tries to shape it, one damages it;
   If one tries to possess it, one loses it.

  Sometimes things flourish,
  And sometimes they do not.
  Sometimes life is hard
  And sometimes it is easy.
  Sometimes people are strong
  And sometimes they are weak.
  Sometimes you get where you are going
  And sometimes you fall by the way.

The sage is not extreme, extravagant, or complacent.

Violence upon others will be returned the same

Powerful men are well advised not to use violence,
  For violence has a habit of returning;
  Thorns and weeds grow wherever an army goes,
  And lean years follow a great war.
A general is well advised
  To achieve nothing more than his orders,
  No matter how strong his army;
  To carry out his orders 
  But not glory, boast or be proud;
  To do what is dictated by necessity,
  But not by bloodlust;
  For even the fiercest force will weaken with time,
  And then its violence will return, and kill it.

Self and The World

The sage does not distinguish between Self and World;
  Therefore the needs of the people of the World are as his own.
  He is good to those who are good;
  He is also good to those who are not good;
  For love is goodness.
  He trusts those who are trustworthy;
  He also trusts those who are not trustworthy;
  For love is trust.

  He is in harmony with the World;
  So he nurtures the Worlds of others
  As a mother does her children.
Love, Restraint, Acceptance and Harmony 
Tao bears love;
Love bears restraint;
Restraint bears acceptance;
Acceptance bears the World;

All things begin with love and end with restraint,

But it is acceptance that brings harmony.

As others teach, I teach,

"Those without harmony end with violence";

This is my teacher.

Explanation of Toa by a Western scholar

Capitalism and The Tao

Qigong and Taoism

Taoist Restoration Society

Tao Te Ching

Taoism and Links

Tao tells the basic truth. Birth and death, man and women, good and evil are the very nature of universe. There is no absolute "Right" or "Wrong". Every thing is relative and may change in time. Let us try to apply to some situations and see what it may mean:

Be happy in life

One is true rich and happy if feels having enough in life with nothing unfinished, nothing to fight about and nothing to complain about.

A richer is not rich if feels never enough in life and thus can't be happy indeed.

Environment Protection

To live harmony with the universe and go alone with the nature. This is what Chinese have been told for 5,000 year.

The industrial revolution introduced by the "West" has brought great disasters to the environment. The whole world has to suffer.

Receiving from nature has to be accomplished with giving back to nature. Growing trees first and then trees can be cut.

China and USA Relationship

America today has become the only superpower in the world after the dissolution of USSR. America is proud of their nation and has the strong will to dominate in the world affairs. The aggressiveness will bring America the power and self-fulfillment in the short run. But America in fact is living in fear, despair, lose of directions and great jealous. America "believes" that they are on the right side of the history and on top of the world. Their political system is the universal model for all other countries. Any other country different from "America value" must be wrong and thus America, the hero nation, will use all means to bring them back to the "right side of the history". America is living in the history of wars starting from wars against native Indians, to Independent Civil War, First and Second World War, Korean War, Vietnam War, Iran War, Iraq War and recently Kosova War. America leading the West continuously fights for "America Value" against Russian, Cuba, China and any other countries that they think will "endanger" their "position". America is on top of the list that countries participated in wars against other countries (right or wrong, up to the history to judge). America is the only country today with armies stationed in other people's land. All these have shown that America as a nation is lacking of the necessary confidence in the real world and in its own future. America is psychologically unprepared to substantiate any future failure and has no peace of mind. America is richer but unhappy, strong but weakening in their deep inside.

China is not a superpower and Chinese never has the will to become the number one of the world. Recovering from 80 years of suffering from foreign invasion, civil war and internal turbulence, Chinese finally can live in a stable environment and enjoy their life peacefully. China is poor, maybe, but Chinese is mentally rich because they are happy to have enough. Taoism said that "excessive demand in any thing" will cost great dear at the end and the real happiness is reached when one knows having enough.

History is repeating without being noticed. United Kingdom, once the most powerful countries in the world, is now giving up all colonies and being troubled by internal fighting ever since. German and Japan when they became the superpowers, they started the Second World War and failed badly. USSR, once the powerful Communist tried to become Number One, was now dissolved. Will America be able to hold on to its Number One position forever? America will be living with their ego and fear until eventually find out that the only enemy is themselves, not others. No one can succeed in controlling the world. That is the nature law of the universe.

The West and Japanese led by American government have tried to block Communist China and failed. Any external forces pressed on China will make China even stronger. Any external influence, which tried to force China to improve "human right", will worsen their position. Chinese has a long history and is capable to handle own affairs. For the benefit of mankind and the good of America, let the nature take its own course and leave China alone. Once Chinese as a nation feels unsafe, the world will be turned upside down. No matter how strong America today is, the nature force will strike back without mercy!

Chinese is a nation seeking continuous harmony with the nature, the universe and their neighbors. Confrontation is not Chinese culture. Chinese is confident in mastering their own country, charting their own directions and will fearlessly defend their own country whenever necessary. Chinese is a nation with great restraint and yet has the inner strength to react and substantiate proportionally to any brutal force brought upon them.  

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