Tao Te ChingTaoism applied to everyday life Practice not-doing and everything will fall into place (Chapter 3). In Taoism this is the concept known as wu wei.
Wei wu wei is the practice of doing and not-doing. This concept comes from the theory of the Yin and Yang. The Yang, along with wei, is the practice of doing.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
The Yin, along with wu wei, is the practice of not-doing. One compliments the other, and each cannot exist alone. The Tao tells people to practice not-doing because it will bring happiness in their life. By not-doing, the Tao means not performing actions, which are unnecessary and uncalled for. People should just take things as they come in life and they will live a life full of happiness and pleasure. If you don't interfere with the Tao and let things take their natural course, everything will work out in your life (Chapter 10). If powerful men and women could remain centered in the Tao…all people would be at peace… (Chapter 32).
If you work against your Tao, you will never find happiness. The Sage practices wu wei. He teaches without words and performs without actions (Chapter 43). He knows and therefore does not speak (Chapter 56). Many people mistake conceptual knowledge for the map to the territory. The Sage is our map to the Tao.
He points his finger to show us the way, but does not really tell us what to do and how to practice Taoism. Lao Tzu's concepts of the Tao can be a guide to rational living. If one follows these beliefs he is guaranteed happiness in his life.
However, it is very difficult to follow the Tao, even though the teachings are said to be easily understood and easily put into practice (Chapter 70). The reason the Tao is so difficult to grasp is because you cannot know that you are practicing it. The Tao is beyond all words. If you give it words, it does not exist. It is unnamable. If you concentrate on the Tao, you will never understand it. You cannot think about it, you must just do it.
This is very difficult because people always think about what they do, but this does not work with the Tao (Chapter 1). You cannot look for the Tao; you cannot listen for the Tao. You must just accept the idea that it is always there, omnipresent, and you can't see it. This is all very important because if one cannot understand these first simple steps in Taoism, they will be lost the rest of the way. In personal life, you should never define yourself.
When you define yourself, you are actually putting limits on yourself. If a man defines himself as a doctor, he is limiting himself to science. If a man defines himself as a singer, he is limiting himself to music. By limiting yourself, you are not allowing yourself to experience life fully (Chapter 24). Also, you should never define any object because they will always have an opposite. If you define something as good then its opposite is defined as bad, when in reality it might not be (Chapter 2). When a man is about to buy a car, he will want to buy a company with a good name. He has defined one car as good and the rest are bad.
When he realizes he cannot afford the good car he is unhappy. He has to buy a bad car. While driving his bad car, he thinks about what people will say. He worries that they will not approve of his new purchase. If the man had not originally set such high expectations of buying a good car, he would not be upset with his situation. By caring about other people's approval he becomes their prisoner (Chapter 9). If you see things as they are, then you will be happy with whatever you have.
If you see things through other's eyes then you will never achieve the high goals you are setting. In family life, be completely present (Chapter 8). All family members should always be there for each other. You should be completely present for the rest of your family, this way other members can talk to you whenever necessary. This gives a sense of security to the rest of the family.
Parents should always be there for their children, children should always be there for their parents, and siblings should always be there for each other. Because (the Sage) has nothing to prove, people can trust his words (Chapter 22). The Sage and the parental figures of a family should have this in common. Parents have nothing to prove to their children and therefore children always believe what their parents tell them. Parents do not have to impress their children and can therefore set an example.
If parents cannot have this connection.