Due to a distinctive cultural and historical background,
Daoism has a unique outlook on morality, the universe, and the meaning of life.
GIVE RESPECT TO THE DAO.
Written in PinYin as Dào, 道 simply means “the way.” The Dao is the origin of everything, and understanding The Dao is the ultimate goal and most fundamental tenet of Daoism.
The Dao is the way of Heaven, Earth, and Humanity. The Dao, leading by example, teaches to let everything grow according to its own course without interference. This is called 无为, pronounced WúWéi, the paradox of nonaction yielding effortless accomplishment.
WuWei teaches being plain and modest, to not struggle with others, and to never strive for personal success nor material gains, all things are in balance, and therefore in loss there is gain and where there is gain there must be loss.
GIVE GREAT VALUE TO LIFE.
Daoism regards life as the most valuable possession. The Dao enlightened humanity and life itself is an expression of The Dao. Destiny is not controlled by Heaven but by human beings themselves.
People themselves can prolong and improve quality of life through meditation, diet, study and exercise. People must grasp their own destiny. The study of The Dao includes the study of how to extend one’s life and all Daoists must give considerable emphasis to this principle.
The Daoist pursuit of longevity has proved very effective, producing extraordinary physical and psychological health benefits. It can keep people mentally and physically fit well into old age as well as restore youthfulness to those who start later in life.
Daoist exercises include moral, mental and physical elements. People must strengthen their physical bodies, cultivate their willpower, discard selfishness, do good deeds, conduct thorough self-examination of their ways of thinking, and seek to become a model of virtue, 德 pronounced Dé in Mandarin Chinese.
Daoism warns against self-righteous enhancement of virtue, greedy accumulation of wealth and selfish cultivation of health. Spiritual, mental, and physical health are the result of practicing selfless, worthy acts and not the goal of Daoism. With strong moral character and systematic exercises generally called 導引, or DǎoYǐn, practiced in accordance with the Daoist method, philosophy of life, and understanding of the universe, people can keep sufficient life essence and energy in their bodies all their lives.
UNDERSTAND THE WAY OF NATURE.
道法自然, DàoFǎ ZìRán: The Dao follows nature and is the natural order of all things. All things following The Dao will flourish. From The Dao came Heaven and from Heaven, Earth, and from the two, in harmony through nature, came Humanity and all of life on Earth.
A peaceful and harmonious relationship with the natural world is very important. Humans should study and follow nature as it is the closest thing to The Dao. An imbalanced relationship between human beings and nature causes stress and misunderstanding, resulting in people exerting their influencing over nature; selfishly exploiting other people and hoarding natural resources for personal gain. This brings about an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance and can lead to illness, disharmony and dissatisfaction in one’s life.
Daoism’s long history has produced teachings that can counteract the shortcomings of our modern society. Daoism looks upon humanity as the most intelligent and creative entity in the universe, each human life, the most precious gift, and each person, the fullest expression of Heaven and Earth within the Dao. Cultivating one’s mind and living naturally, in accordance to natural laws, while leaving the natural world unaffected, is therefore living in harmony with The Dao.
YIN AND YANG
According to Daoist cosmology, everything in existence is composed of two opposite forces known as Yin and Yang, 阴和阳.
Yīn represents the cold, the soft, the absorbing, the yielding; Yáng represents the hot, the ridged, the illuminating, the directing. Yin and Yang are complementary opposites of the whole. The two forces are in constant balance within the cosmos and where they are in harmony locally, the energy of life is created. Yin and Yang together are called, 太极 pronounced Taiji and written in English as Tai Chi.
Taiji is a complex philosophy used as a stepping stone to understanding the oneness of all things. Taiji philosophy explains that the perceivable universe is an expression of opposites from a single, indistinguishable whole. Taiji is the explanation of the dualistic nature of all things and the paradox of simultaneous unity and duality.
RISE AND REVISION
Daoism is decentralized. Historically, Daoists were hermits who lived in remote places, revering local deities and scientifically studying the natural world around them. They polished their practices and refined their knowledge base over thousands of years through the transmission from a Master to a single disciple.
After years of uninterrupted transmission, many lineages were created and a wide diversity in Daoist medicine, Daoist Martial Arts, Daoist methods for mental and physical fitness, Talismans, Mudras, and Incantations flourished.
Over time, prominent scholars and adepts were able to find similarities within the vast amounts of diversity and harmonized the knowledge of their ancestors, creating the core beliefs that grew into the modern presentation of Daoism in China and temples across the world today. These core philosophical ideas are held by all lineages of Daoists. Despite how these principles may manifest externally, the ultimate goal will always remain the same, understand The Dao.
道德经, the Dao De Jing, has been frequently translated into English and is available free online and in a wide variety of print sources. Titled alternatively as Tao Te Ching, or simply The Dao or The Tao, devoid of any reference to gods or goddesses, with no mention of prayer or enlightenment and an emphasis on short, often contradictory, declarative statements, it is an early classic of Daoism attributed to LaoZi, a Great Sage from 6th century BCE. LaoZi is viewed as a founding father of Daoism as he was both the first to name The Dao and the earliest Daoist Master to have his teachings recorded, offering a direct connection for future generations.
Roughly translated as, “I don’t know its name, to use a word I use “the way.” ~ LaoZi
The Dao that can be spoken is not actually The Dao; the name that can be named is not actually the name, these are ideas expressed in the first chapter Laozi's text. In a simple explanation, this means the idea of The Dao confined and expressed in words cannot be the natural and infinite idea and that the name given here is just an arbitrary, given name, “the way” but is not the real, natural and eternal name.
This separates the Daoist requirement of faith from most other major religions. Daoists do not discredit other religions. Conversion to Daoism is not required before participation in and benefiting from Daoist Rituals, Ceremonies, Arts and Medicine. Daoism is the study of an intangible way beyond words, beyond form, beyond structure; therefore, anyone can benefit from participation in Daoist activities no matter what additional structured faith they may hold.
Daoism sincerely hopes to promote the thoughts of all faiths and religions that are conducive to humanity and that will be used to help build a harmonious society. In this way everlasting peace and prosperity can be maintained in the world.