These 4 Teachings of Daoism Will Help You Navigate Life

Anybody can grasp some of Daosim's key concepts with a few quotes from one of its most important books, the Dao De Jing.

Jan 30, 2018
Laozi statue in yuanxuan taoist temple guangzhou, China

(Shutterstock)

In a modern world that never sleeps, anyone could benefit from the simplicity found in Daoism. This way of thought goes beyond just an esoteric ancient Chinese philosophy, and anybody can grasp some of its key concepts with a few quotes from one of Daoism’s most important books, the Dao De Jing. This wisdom lays a simple framework for achieving harmony, making life a little bit easier.

But first, what is Daoism anyway?

Daoism, sometimes spelled Taoism, comes from Ancient China and the writings of philosophers like Laozi, who lived during the 5th or 4th century BCE. This philosophy, which some consider a religion, teaches how to live in harmony with the world. The word, dao, itself means “the way”, the pattern and substance of everything that exists.

In his most famous collection of teachings, the Dao De Jing, Laozi explains how to act in accordance with the alternating cycles of nature, in other words: a person needs to “go with the flow”. Looking at a few important quotes from the work reveals deep wisdom on how to better navigate life.




1. SIMPLICITY, PATIENCE, COMPASSION

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”

WHAT DOES IT TEACH: Life can get complicated quite easily, but sometimes all we need to do is get back to the basics. When feeling overwhelmed, these guidelines present essential rules in how to manage actions, relationships, and self-worth in a few, concise sentences.

2. GOING WITH THE FLOW

“When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.”

WHAT DOES IT TEACH:
This quote explains the concept of wu wei, uncontrived action or natural non-intervention. In life, rather than fighting against the conditions in our lives, we can allow things to take their natural course. This can also mean that when you don’t know what to do, do nothing. Instead, only jump at opportunities when you feel ready.

3. LETTING GO

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”

WHAT DOES IT TEACH: Many Eastern philosophies remind us of the only true constants in life, change and death. While not an easy thing to do, accepting these facts of life can release you from as much suffering and bring freedom in life. We must remember to let go, and allow life to take its course.

4. HARMONY

“Tao engenders One; One engenders Two; Two engenders Three; Three engenders all things. All things carry the yin (femininity) while embrace the yang (masculinity). Neutralising energy brings them into harmony.”

WHAT DOES IT TEACH: The Chinese concept of yin and yang describes nature in daulities with two opposite, complementary, and interdependent forces. In other words, two halves balancing together that make a whole. Yin and yang always flows and changes with time. One aspect increases as the other decreases, and this balance continues as a pattern in nature. The night becomes the day. The sky meets the earth.

Examining and understanding these patterns in ourselves and around us brings more balance in life. For example, a person that becomes too rigid may break under pressure. Instead, they should become softer and more flexible to restore the balance of yin to yang.

ALLISON MICHELLE DIENSTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR
Working from her laptop as a freelance writer, Allison lives as a digital nomad, exploring the world while sharing positivity and laughter. She is a lover of language, travel, music, and creativity with a degree in Chinese language and literature.

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