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Tao Te Ching Essay

1324 words - 6 pages

The Tao Te Ching is the main source of Taoist wisdom available to the Westerner. In my mind it is the first place a student of the Tao should begin. Unlike many other Taoist books it is lacking in humour or stories, and is often seen as difficult by Western Scholars. Succinct and direct, it can look superficial, but a great depth is hidden behind the brevity.A book of only 5000 characters in Chinese, it consists of a number of 'stand alone' chapters which each contain a separate message. Said to be written by Lao Tzu, its true authorship remains unknown. Lao Tzu is an honorary title meaning 'old master'- a title that would have been applied to many Chinese throughout history. The wise ...view middle of the document...

In its second part, the work dwells on, on the art of rule in accordance to Tao.Emptiness is the state of mind of the Taoist disciple who follows the Tao. In this respect, to be empty means to have your mind empty of all wishes and ideas not fitted with the Tao's Movement (direction).Chuang-tzu (Master Chuang), who followed the teachings of Lao-tzu, describe the empty mind in his monumental work that bears his name by stating:The still mind of the sage is the mirror of heaven and earth, the glass of all things. Vacancy, stillness, placidity, tastelessness, quietude, silence, and non-action - this is the Level of heaven and earth, and the perfection of the Tao and its characteristic. (Legge version)The still mind is a mind that is not moving, or putted another way it is the mirror of the universe. This is the pure mind of ancient Taoist masters (Way of Perfect Emptiness).Wu wei is a central concept in Taoism. The literal meaning of wu wei is "without action". It is often expressed by the paradox wei wu wei, meaning "action without action" or "effortless doing". The practice and efficacy of wu wei are fundamental in Chinese thought, most prominently emphasized in Taoism. The goal of wu wei is alignment with Tao, revealing the soft and invisible power within all things. It is believed by Taoists that masters of wu wei can control this invisible potential, the innate yin-action of the Way (Great Tao).In ancient Taoist texts, wu wei is associated with water through its yielding nature. Water is soft and weak, it is noted, but it can move earth and carve stone. Taoist philosophy proposes that the universe works harmoniously according to its own ways. When someone exerts his will against the world, he disrupts that harmony. Taoism does not identify man's will as the root problem. Rather, it asserts that man must place his will in harmony with the natural universe (Great Tao).P'u is translated as "uncarved block" or "simplicity". It is a metaphor for the state of wu wei and the principle of jian. It represents a passive state of receptiveness. P'u is a symbol for a state of pure potential and perception without prejudice. In this state, Taoists believe everything is seen as it is, without preconceptions or illusion (Great Tao).P'u is seen as keeping oneself in the primordial state of tao. It is believed to be the true nature of the mind, unburdened by knowledge or experiences. In the state of p'u, there is no right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. There is only pure...

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