The Dao of Daoism

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The Dao of Daoism Around the sixth century BCE, Lao Zi (老子), originally called Lao Dan, worked as an archive keeper at court. While working there he taught Confucius (孔子) about a version of ritual that would become known as the Daoist version of ritual. However, being unhappy in court, Lao Zi left. Some historians have said that as he tried to leave the country to go west, a guardian of the border stopped him and asked for a book. There he wrote the 5000 character ‘book’ called Dao De Jing (道德經), which became the foundation of the Daoist movement. It has been contended that this book was not written by Lao Zi; instead, it was written by multiple philosophers. The essential attributes of the philosophy taught within the Dao De Jing include: naturalism, the Dao, wu-wei (無爲), spontaneity, unity, and yin-yang. Daoist followers believe in maintaining a natural state rather than having artificiality or even a hierarchy. The Dao (道) is also known as “the Path” or “the Way”. This definition of Dao has come to mean the way of life. Daoist beliefs follow that if you stay on the Way that is when you will be happy. The Way is different for each person and it depends on the person. Each person must figure out his or her own Dao and then follow that path; however, the Path also should follow a natural way of life and follow certain principles along the way. Spontaneity, one of the principles one should follow throughout life, plays into the concept of wu-wei, or non-action. Wu-wei can be symbolized by water running over rock because there is no way to go against the water and also to avoid planned action. Many scholars still are unsure how exactly to follow wu-wei. Wu-wei is not absolute inaction; instead, it makes all doing possible. “The man who applies himself to the Tao, each day diminishes [his activity and desires]. From diminution to diminution, he
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