Chapter 5: Taoism
The Old Master
• Taoism originated with a man named Lao Tzu, a shadowy figure born on 604
• Lao Tzu: means “the Old Boy” or “the Grand Old Master.”
• People say that he was conceived by a shooting star, carried in his mother’s
womb for 82 years and born already a wise old man with white hair.
• Tao Te Ching or The Way and Its Power: the basic text of Taoism and can be
read in half an hour or a lifetime.
The Three Meanings of Tao
• Tao is the way of ultimate reality: this Tao cannot be perceived or clearly
conceived, for it is too vast for human rationality to fathom.
• Tao is the way of the universe or the "Mother of the World”: it is the norm, the
rhythm, the driving power in all nature and the ordering principle behind all life.
• Tao is the way of human life.
• In China, there are three Taoisms.
Three Approaches to Power and the Taoisms That Follow
• The three species of Taoism are very dissimilar from one another.
• Philosophical Taoism
• Religious Taoism: often called Popular Taoism.
• Third School or Taoist “Adepts”: too heterogeneous to have acquired a single
• All these schools intend to facilitate Tao’s power, its te, as it flows through
Efficient Power: Philosophical Taoism
• Philosophical Taoism: relatively unorganized; they are similar to self-help
programs where coaches are involved to train students, guiding them in what
they should understand and in what they should do in the vitalizing regimens.
o It is the most exportable Taoism of the three and the one that has the
most to say to the world at large.
o Philosophical Taoism seeks knowledge; they want to repair their life.
o To live wisely is to live in a way that conserves life’s vitality by not
expending it in useless, draining ways like conflict.
• Unlike Religious Taoism, Philosophical Taoisms primarily work on themselves.
• Wu Wei: means inaction but in Taoism, it means pure effectiveness.
Augmented Power: Taoist Hygiene and Yoga
• Taoist Adepts: all are engaged in training programs but were not willing to
settle for the philosophers’ goal of managing their allotments of the Tao
• Taoist Adepts wanted to increase the quota of the Tao they had to work with.
• Ch’I: means vital energy
• To maximize ch’i, they worked with three things:
o Matter: they tried eating things to see if ch’i could be augmented
nutritionally (discovery of medicinal herbs), sexual experiments and
breathing exercises were also performed.
o Movement: they performed t’ai chi chuan that gathers calisthenics,
dance, meditation, yin/yang philosophy and martial art into a synthesis to draw ch’i and they performed acupuncture as well.
o Minds: Taoist meditation to shut out distractions and to empty the mind
to the point where the power of the Tao might bypass bodily filters and
enter the self directly.
Taoist Yoga: similar to raja yoga but believe that the ch’i that
yogis accumulate through meditation could be transmitted
psychically to the community to enhance its vitality and