Before Tolle, before the latest new age craze… before Christianity and western religious thinking, there were philosophies. On every subject, mankind would think and what they came up with they wrote down for others.
The Eastern philosophies are not religions in our sense of the word, since they contain neither a creed, a code or a cult. And there isn’t anything that you are expected to believe.” Alan Watts
Taoism is not a religion and it is often said that Taoism is barely a philosophy. Taoism is the principle that all things take care of themselves and form an interlocking unity. Taoism gives us a new understanding of reality and provides us with the knowledge to live a life in harmony with Nature.
The ancient Chinese never developed a concept of God. They never saw Nature as something that was responding to a boss. The Chinese word for Nature is ‘tzu jan’ (pronounced “zi-run”) and is translated into English as ‘of itself so’. The Taoists saw Nature as something that is self perpetuating and following a pattern of intelligence.
The ancient Taoists also never indulged in mythology to explain the phenomena they observed around them. To find the answers to the mysteries of life, they simply looked to the most reliable thing they knew, Nature. They saw how Nature was designed to give everything a chance of success. From this the Taoists understood that if we also followed the course of Nature, we could experience the same opportunity of success.
We can also say Taoism isn’t a religion because there isn’t anything a Taoist must believe. Taoism doesn’t require a Taoist to take a leap of faith and blindly trust anything they are told. It is up to the individual to follow the course of life which is best suited for them. Not forcing the Taoist philosophy onto anyone is a fundamental Taoist belief. One thing a Taoist should never do is use force for any reason.
There is no threat of eternal damnation for not being a Taoist or a promise of eternal life for those who are. In this regard there is no advantage in being a Taoist what-so-ever. Taoists believe the same fate awaits us all, regardless of our personal beliefs.
The main focus of Taoism is living in the current moment. It is about how we see, understand and experience reality. The ancient Taoist view of reality is remarkably consistent with current scientific knowledge. Taoists believe that we live a life of unhappiness when we don’t see things as they truly are. The goal of Taoism is to relieve our anxieties and confusion by revealing reality as it truly is.
Most of us feel we are separate and isolated egos with no connection to other life or the environment. However, along with all other life we are a product of this planet and we are intimately connected to every aspect of it. Our survival is just as dependent on the wellbeing of the environment as it is on the health of our body.
Taoism teaches us that there isn’t anything wrong with the people we are. The problem is that we don’t trust our own intuition. Taoists find their natural selves by adapting the Taoist concept of the ‘un-carved block’. The un-carved block or ‘pu’ (pronounced “pooh”) is a state where one is untainted by cultural expectations and experiences. Most of us are victims of our own ego. Our ego often makes us behave in ways that is contrary to our survival. Pu is about no longer resisting our true self and following Nature’s flow.