5 thoughts on “How do you practice Taoism, is it just about being passive and healthy? like zen buddhism?

  1. Neither Zen Buddhism nor Taoism are about being passive, and neither one is about a belief system. They are both about getting beyond the intellect into direct experience of ones own awareness.

  2. The essence of Taoism is simplicity, honesty and decency.

    The Tao ti Ching tells not to study complex philosophies. Concentrate on our basics.

    “The sage feeds the belly first”

    The Stonecutter
    by Benjamin Hoff from the tao of pooh

    There was once a stonecutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

    One day, he passed a wealthy merchant’s house and through the open gateway saw many fine possessions and important visitors.

    “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stonecutter. He became very envious, and wished that he could be like the merchant. Then he would no longer have to live the life of a mere stonecutter.

    To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever dreamed of, envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. But soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants, and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession.

    “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!”

    Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around, who had to bow down before him as he passed. It was a hot summer day, and the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence.

    “How powerful the sun is!” he thought. ”
    I wish that I could be the sun!”

    Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and labourers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below.

    “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!”

    Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind.

    “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!”

    Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, hated and feared by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it — a huge, towering stone.

    “How powerful that stone is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a stone!”

    Then he became the stone, more powerful than
    anything else on earth.
    But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the solid rock and felt himself being changed.

    “What could be more powerful than I, the stone?” he thought.
    He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stonecutter.

  3. Tao’s purpose is trying to get into some kind of ‘flow state’. It is being aware in the moment, whatever you are doing. Not thinking ahead, or thinking about the past. A lot of people worry about the past or the future, but the only existing moment is now.

    Everyone has a ‘voice within’ that is constantly babbling and worrying. Taoists try to keep that voice quiet.

    One of the principles of Taoism is “Wei Wu Wei”: this means ‘doing without doing’, in other words being in the NOW/flow state. You shouldn’t try to change things which cannot be changed. What is, is. Just accept that. (this is what Wu Wei/not-doing means)

    Zen buddhism and Tao are much alike in that they want to cultivate the Now. It isn’t passive at all, once you really start doing it, you will find that it takes a lot of effort. By keeping your mind clear, you will eventually start realizing all kinds of stuff, to which you were blind before.

    Buddhism in its core is trying to conquer ‘suffering’. That was the question that the Buddha wanted to answer: ‘why is there suffering?” Taoism on the other hand just lets it be. It doesn’t try to solve anything, it just accepts what comes.

    Taoism isn’t about being passive. You can do what you want to do. You just should be aware of the things you can change and the things you cannot change. eg It would be pretty useless trying to get a rock to jump through a hoop. It cannot do it. So it is with people. Don’t use force, lead by example. It seems very simple and it is. Still, a lot of people do not realise this essential truth.

    Some examples:
    – parents that push their child into going to medical school to become a doctor, when the child wants to become an artist.
    – friends that boycot the relationship between their friend and his girl, because they find that she is claiming to much of his time.
    – still crying years after a loved one has passed away
    – trying to manipulate people into doing what you want (a lot of people do this) by using guilt and shame, and being mad when the manipulation doesn’t work.
    – not listening to what others have to say, but just waiting to say your own opinion.
    – being mad at a woman, because she chose someone else.
    – complaining all the time that life is unfair
    – making the disease/cancer you have, the most important thing in your life, and trying to make others feel sorry about it.

    You could challenge these behaviours by fighting back (this is actually done by most of the people, push someone and he pushes back), the taoist chooses not to fight back, not to resist, he moves out of the way. This means that if someone is trying to manipulate him into doing something which he doesn’t want, he doesn’t do it and (this is the key point) doesn’t feel bad about it. The guilt doesn’t reach him. He doesn’t passively comply at all. He simply won’t acknowledge such behaviour. (more or less this is a practical example of it) Also he doesn’t behave in the way that is depicted in the examples.

    Zen monks practice meditation in a temple. The meditation practice in zen buddhism is often done through za-zen, or sitting. You try to control your thoughts and concentrate on your breathing, till you become absolutely still. This is very helpfull to relax, but it cannot always be done in everyday life. Taoists do not need/have to meditate. They practice it always, in real life.

  4. Here is an article I wrote after doing some research about Taoism:

    http://fraughtwithperil.com/ryuei/2010/10/17/chinese-learning-taoism/

    In brief, there are many types of Taoism – philosophical, religious, alchemical, religious and in the article above I concentrate on a form of it that appears in the 3rd and 4th century called the Mysterious Learning and sometimes Neo-Taoism. What surprised me in my research was that the Tao Te Ching was originally intended for Chinese rulers – teaching them to rule by example and to follow a more laissez faire style of leadership. I think a Taoist would probably agree with the adage “They govern best who govern least.” It is not that Lao Tzu was recommending total passivity (for that look to some sections of Chuang Tzu and the Lieh Tzu), but rather a more natural, simple, and inconspicuous way of governing and doing one’s duty.

    Some of this did carry over into Zen, but Zen is not about being passive either. It is about overcoming egocentricity and being of service to others in an authentic, unselfconscious, and spontaneous way that is very down to earth and inconspicuous. Many of the samurai in Japan from the 13th century on saw Zen as very attractive, and no one would ever accuse the samurai of being passive. Zen was seen as a way of becoming efficient and effortless in one’s endeavors, whether that involved swordsmanship, tea ceremony, flower arranging, sumi painting, serving one’s lord, or ruling the country. Was this still Buddhism? Whatever it was, people in Japan and around the world still look to a Zen as a way of learning how to live with a selfless grace in the world, this is not the same as mere passivity or quietism. RInzai Zen in particular is critical of Zen that becomes too passive or quietist.

    Here are some articles on the origins of Zen in China and Japan as best as I can reconstruct it:

    http://fraughtwithperil.com/ryuei/2011/02/10/zen-buddhism-in-china/

    http://fraughtwithperil.com/ryuei/2011/02/18/establishment-of-zen-buddhism-in-japan/

    Namu Myoho Renge Kyo,
    Ryuei

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