What Is Tao

Tao isn't a what.

Very loosely, tao can be translated as flow, or better as the process of flow, or better still as whatever it is that underlies what one experiences as the process of flow. Or ... well, we could continue on in this vein for a long time, but of course that's not a very good way to understand Tao.

Let's talk constructively, then. One of the chapters of LaoTse suggests that the external other and the internal self are merely two poles of an abstraction, like left and right, or ugly and beautiful. If the sum of all one's abstractions represents a map, then Tao can be thought of as the changing, boundless, and essentially unmapped territory the map approximates.

This view is not without merit, for it maintains the absolute reality of all our interactions with the external world. If thoughts, memories, anticipations and sensations are all part of the map, we no longer have to trouble ourselves with the mind/body dualisms of Western philosophy. See Also DramaticIdentity.

The upshot is that trying to understand WhatIsTao is like trying to catch water in a fishing net. The point of identifying Tao at all is to learn to harmonize with it, not try to apprehend it. And, no, of course it's not an it, either. Damnfoolish language, this English. --EasternWuss


I've read a lot of Zen books, but not too many Taoist. From what I have read it seems to me that much Zen is sort of "whip yourself until you get there" and Taoism is sort of "you are there.. take it easy." I prefer the latter approach. I don't know how much these aspects are part of each philosophy or how much they are just a side effect of my naive perceptions. -- MichaelFeathers

Books about/Translations of Tao What about the TaoOfSteve? It talks the talk, but doesn't really walk the walk, far too analytical for a start. Also of course it's Hollywood. Offhand would suggest [http://us.imdb.com/Title?0042546 Harvey] as a better MoviesMeetTaoism? outing.


Anybody who falls into this trap can only look cross-eyed at the tip of his nose.

Which trap - tao or this page? Mu.


Want to tie together Taoism, OO, and patterns?

Real-time CORBA with TAO(TM) (The ACE ORB)

http://www.cs.wustl.edu/~schmidt/TAO.html .


A Chinese co-worker told me he was tired of hearing English speakers say "dau" when talking about all the Tao of This and Tao of That books. He'd prefer that we anglicize it as "tau" rather than trying (and failing) to sound Chinese. So I tried saying "tau" for a while, but then of course all the English speakers kept correcting me for my cross-cultural ignorance. --KrisJohnson


See also:
CategoryEasternThought CategoryOffTopic CategoryDefinition

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