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The Meaning of the Tao

We find a lot of mistakes at people talking about the Tao and trying to explain it. Let me show you one. Quote:

    The Tao's definition always slips around words because how we see life is also constantly shifting. This means the Tao is both indefinable and yet by living our life fully we can then discover our own Personal Tao… (From a Personal Tao site).

The first mistake is to believe that Tao is indefinable. We can find a clear definition of this concept in the I-ching, if you know what I mean. There are more with Confucius and his disciples or other ancient philosophers. So the Tao is a known concept with Taoists as well as with Confucians.

The second mistake is to believe that by living our life we can discover a "personal Tao", as it is stated in the above quote. There's no such thing like a "personal Tao" in Taoism (be it tao-chia or tao-chiao). But if we take the word "tao" to mean someone's special talent, such as a skilled archer or cooker, a performing artist, a good fighter or charismatic leader and so forth, we can admit that a "personal tao" is a personal skill:.

Tao has many meanings: the one defined by the I-ching, the Confucian's and Taoist's, and several others including "skill" and "method".

Finally, there's one more meaning of the word "tao", when it is related to the Taoist notion of Heaven - that is, the Way of Heaven. This is a basic concept that one may find in the Taoist works, such as the Tao-te ching.

The meaning of Tao as it was understood by Lao-tzu himself (in the first chapter of his Book) in the subject of the first lesson of our course Lao-tzu and Tao-te ching Revealed. Click here to learn more.

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Paper by Jhian

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