The Tao

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The Tao

The T'ai Chi Tu more commonly known as the yin and yang symbol
The Chinese character for Tao

The Tao, the ordained Way of the entire cosmos, is not the complex, mystical concept that so many Western people believe or make it out to be. The truth is, that those who believe Taoism to be a mystical religion are not Taoists themselves, and do not realise that the Tao is the one way, that its course is unchangeable, and that its only function is to fulfil the divine will of the Supreme Spirit, or God. It affects all living matter—vegetation, animals and human beings—at all times, every second of every minute, through the time span of your present life, and your future lives to come.
It encompasses heaven, and the entire universe including our planet Earth, in all of the five directions within the full expanse of the entire firmament. Its efficiency is beyond normal human comprehension, and it creates and maintains the harmony between heaven and earth, according to the simple rules laid down by the Supreme Spirit.
In the very beginning it created order from chaos, with everything in its rightful place, and endowed it with the perfect balance of two influences, the Yin and the Yang, which form an integral part of everything. So from the one Tao came two principles which determine the stability of all creation, and control all the processes of evolution and changes taking place within it.
Though the Tao and its Yin and Yang constituents fill heaven and earth, they cannot be seen by the normal eye, yet are visible to the mind, soul and spirit. They are insubstantial yet are a composite substance of the material and the immaterial; they yield to change but are themselves absolute; their power is beyond normal human comprehension and yet their gentleness is softer than the air that touches the face. They are internal and external, microcosmic and macrocosmic, passive and active simultaneously linking through their contermination. They are completely individual, yet at the same time they are an harmonious part of each other—this has created Dual Monism, the combined unity and diversity of the cosmos.
Most people take the natural order of the Tao for granted, never giving it a second thought. That night follows day, spring follows winter, and so on, without change, is accepted without thought or question. Yet in accepting the natural order of the universe in this way, one is in fact recognising and accepting the Tao, albeit unconsciously. How natural and sensible it is, then, to live in accordance with the established order of nature, on which we all depend.
Therefore as we all rely on the normal manifestations of nature, which is absolutely dependent on the immutable ramifications of the universe, then the most sensible thing to do is to learn to follow the Tao. If you do make a full adjustment in your life, so as to keep to these natural laws, then your life will become serene and purposeful, your mental strength invincible, happiness will surround you, and life will then have a true meaning.
Once you have taken the initial step of looking outward, away from yourself, and recognising the work of the Tao, you will begin to see that the Tao is in control of everything, every minute of every day, and begin to recognise, understand and appreciate the reasons for it. To reach this understanding is not easy, for there may be many things that at first glance may seem wrong, or inexplicable, or even contrary to your trend of thought, and you may therefore become perplexed. However, you must learn to persevere and accept it, in the same way that you acknowledge the winds that blow, the waters that flow, and the clouds that hurry across the sky, then slowly through your own concentration you will gain mental and spiritual strength, you will harmonise with all things in the universe, and understanding will come, as surely as summer follows spring.
You will also need to look very closely at yourself. It is so easy to recognise the faults and good points of others, yet tend not to look very closely at the way we do things ourselves, our attitudes towards life and to others, our ambitions, our egos, and sometimes our infuriating habits which are apt to upset others, although we are often too blind to see it.
The Tao has created all the universe but does not boast about it; it leads everything along its own predestined and ordained way, yet you cannot see the controlling hand, though you can see the results. You were born and you will die—accept it! You were born with nothing and you will die with nothing—accept it!
Whether you are rich or poor, accept your path in life, don't boast or complain about it. Accept what is inevitable, and, once you recognise the Tao in your own life, then, and only then, will you see the changes that take place. Don't boast of your position or your wealth, for to do so could turn that Yang situation into a Yin one, for what was given can just as easily be taken away. Learn to control your thoughts by accepting everything as it comes along, and don't fret or worry about it. Don't plan ahead, for the Tao has already planned your future for you, and it is unchangeable. Have the strength and determination to see yourself through the rough or Yin patches, without moans or groans, without blaming others, and without self-pity; be happy to wait patiently for the Yang that is to come.
Above all, think of others, and learn to help and serve them at every opportunity, and great internal satisfaction will be derived, and happiness will abound constantly. This will also aid your mental and spiritual growth.
By getting closer to nature you can get closer to the Supreme Spirit, and become more receptive and perceptive of the Tao. So start on your Ch'ang Ming (Taoist Long Life) diet immediately and start to become healthier and physically stronger, for this will help to strengthen the mind and the spiritual side of your life, and enable you to gain a new dimension in other fields and influences within the realms of the universe.
Join the millions who follow the Taoist natural way of living, but it will take dedication and self discipline, but this is just another way of learning to control and understand yourself, and no longer eat out of habit. Your mind is in charge of your physical body, what you eat, drink, think and do is your own business, make a start now and ignore the sarcasm of those who think themselves wiser, though really ignorant. The man who lives with his head in the clouds cannot see the goodness under his feet.
[1]

  1. The Tao of Long Life Chapter 1 page 27
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The Tao of Long Life - The Chinese Art of Ch'ang Ming

by Chee Soo

©Seahorse Books 2008 reproduced with permission