Taoism Essay Research Paper In order to — страница 3

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elsewhere, water always seeks the lowest level, which men abhor, because we are always trying to play games of one-upmanship, and be on top of each other. But Lao-tzu explains that the top position is the most insecure. Everybody wants to get to the top of the tree, but then if they do the tree will collapse. That is the fallacy of American society. Lao-tzu says the basic position is the most powerful, and this we can see at once in Judo, or in Aikido. These are self-defensive arts where you always get underneath the opponent, so he falls over you if he attacks you. The moment he moves to be aggressive you go either lower than he is, or in a smaller circle than he is moving. And you have spin, if you know Aikido. You are always spinning, and you know how something spinning

exercises centrifugal force, and if someone comes into your field of centrifugal force he the gets flung out, but by his own bounce. It is very curious. So, therefore, the watercourse way is the way of tao. Now, that seems to white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, lazy, spineless, and altogether passive. I am always being asked when I talk about things, "If people did what you suggest wouldn’t they become terribly passive?" Well, from a superficial point of view I would suggest that a certain amount of passivity would be an excellent corrective for our kind of culture because we are always creating trouble by doing good to other people. We wage wars for other peoples benefit, and attempt to help those living in "underdeveloped" counties, not realizing that in the

process we may destroy their way of life. Economies and cultures that have coexisted in ecological balance for thousands of years have been disrupted all around the world, with often disastrous results. A noted Chinese anthropologist has written that Chinese religion "mirrors the social landscape of its adherents. There are as many meanings as there are vantage points."2 The same could be said of the diverse tradition we call Taoism. Taoism was understood and practiced in many ways, each reflecting the historical, social, or personal situation of its adherents. While this diversity may confuse and perplex the outside observer, it accounts for the resilience of Taoism in China. Taoism was adaptable, evolving to fill spiritual gaps created by the vagaries of life. Taoism

can also be called "the other way," for during its entire history, it has coexisted alongside the Confucian tradition, which served as the ethical and religious basis of the institutions and arrangements of the Chinese empire. Taoism, while not radically subversive, offered a range of alternatives to the Confucian way of life and point of view. These alternatives, however, were not mutually exclusive. For the vast majority of Chinese, there was no question of choosing between Confucianism and Taoism. Except for a few straightlaced Confucians and a few pious Taoists, the Chinese man or woman practiced both – either at different phases of life or as different sides of personality and taste. Classical Taoist philosophy, formulated by Laozi (the Old Master, 5th century

B.C.?), the anonymous editor of the Daodejing (Classic of the Way and its Power), and Zhuangzi (3rd century B.C.), was a reinterpretation and development of an ancient nameless tradition of nature worship and divination. Laozi and Zhuangzi, living at a time of social disorder and great religious skepticism (see article on Confucianism), developed the notion of the Dao (Tao – way, or path) as the origin of all creation and the force — unknowable in its essence but observable in its manifestations — that lies behind the functionings and changes of the natural world. They saw in Dao and nature the basis of a spiritual approach to living. This, they believed, was the answer to the burning issue of the day: what is the basis of a stable, unified, and enduring social order? The

order and harmony of nature, they said, was far more stable and enduring than either the power of the state or the civilized institutions constructed by human learning. Healthy human life could flourish only in accord with Dao — nature, simplicity, a free-and-easy approach to life. The early Taoists taught the art of living and surviving by conforming with the natural way of things; they called their approach to action wuwei (wu-wei – lit. no-action), action modeled on nature. Their sages were wise, but not in the way the Confucian teacher was wise — learned and a moral paragon. Zhuangzi’s sages were often artisans — butchers or woodcarvers. The lowly artisans understood the secret of art and the art of living. To be skillful and creative, they had to have inner