Taoism is a both a religion and a philosophy of life that stresses the essential unity of the universe, reversion, polarization (yin and yang), eternal cycles, leveling of all differences, relativity of all standards, divine wisdom and return of all to the primeval one. The tao of the taoist is everywhere and is the transforming wisdom of the universe.
One of its main focuses is on the virtue of humility as the basis of greatness. It should also be said that the tao that can be named is not the tao. The true tao cannot be named, and so, my description cannot fully describe the tao. You cannot separate Taoism from Laotse, the father of Taoism, who was born around 571 B.C., and was a contemporary of Confucius.
While good sense belongs to Confucius, wisdom, wit, depth, and brilliance belong to Laotse. Confucius laid claim to the behaviorist and the formal, while Laotse stressed the intuitive, the poetic and the mysterious. In every sense, Laotse was the mystic, and Confucius was seen as a positivist.
Laotse was distinguished for speaking in proverbs, while the philosophy of Confucius evolved as a philosophy of social order. The ancient Chinese officials liked Confucius, but it was the poets, artists, deep thinkers, and writers, who preferred Laotse and his greatest disciple, Chuangtse. The teachings of Taoism were compiled in one volume (only 5,000 words), called The “Tao Teh Ching” (The Way And Its Power).
Much emphasis is placed on meditation in Taoism, as its essence is expressed more so in who one is, as opposed to what one does. Wisdom, in Taoist terms, is to know the will of the divine and be in harmony with the mystical and unifying wisdom of the universe, which is seen to operate similarly to a bellows.
The wise person will love silence and knows that to be wise is to be active in stillness and to recognize that being is more important than doing. The wise person first denies self and seeks to be last, and in so choosing, becomes first. He or she will not trust totally in what they see as much as in their intuition and will then follow his or her gut feelings.
The wise person’s wisdom will be unlike the wisdom of the great many, their mind will be free and uncluttered, and they will store up their riches in their heart. To be wise, they will do no harm, recognize that God is one, and like God, will reject no one. He or she will seek not the high places nor crowning achievement, but the lowliness of God. He or she will love childlike simplicity and humility. Ultimately, wisdom will bring knowledge of others, and then enlightenment will bring knowledge of the true self.
From the time of his birth to the time of his death, Jesus was at all times a practicing Jew; he never knowingly practiced Taoism as a religious philosophy. The founders of Taoism were born almost six centuries before Jesus walked the Earth in another part of the world. But, one can see in the childlike simplicity, humility, and divine wisdom that Jesus embodied, the manifestation of most key Taoist principles. Jesus spoke in parables and rejected no one. He knew that being was more important than doing and sought humbly the lowliness of God and his place among the lowly of the Earth. As is also evident in Taoism, he certainly recognized the divine will, knew that God is one, and ultimately, recognized his true self.
Nothing is weaker than water, But when it attacks something hard Or resistant, then nothing withstands it, And nothing will alter its way. Everyone knows this, that weakness prevails Over strength and that gentleness conquers The adamant hindrance of men, but that Nobody demonstrates how it is so. Because of this the Wise Man says That only one who bears the nations shame Is fit to be its hallowed lord; That only one who takes upon himself The evils of the world may be its king. This is paradox.
Tao Teh Ching, chapter 78, circa 500 BC:
Michael Hickey is a local writer and poet who lives in Pelican Bay and Swampscott, Mass. His book, “Get Wisdom,” is published by Xlibris Div. Random House Publishing and is available at 1-888-795-4274, ext. 822, at www.Xlibris.com or your local bookstore. E-mail Mike Hickey at Mikehic@nii.net.
Read Michael Hickey’s short poem online at marconews.com/news/islander.