Coming from China, Taoism is a surprisingly open-eying philosophy and approach to life. It has never tried to enforce itself, and yet, so many embrace it. This article attempts to show how one insight and one method of Taoism can help us in our life journey.
The insight: living in harmony
The most basic discipline of Taoism is to live in harmony with existence, or the Tao, as often labeled. But what does that mean? In this spiritual tradition, the Tao is the source and substance of everything that exists.
If you think about it, if there is any such thing as the source of life, it must exist in every object, living or inanimate. As a result, no matter what you see, feel, or experience includes the source of life within it. Whether it is your child, pet, an ant, a leaf, or a sensation you feel, there is something sacred in it.
It may sound mumbo jumbo to many, but taking that aside, you can still look at its practical side. How would your life be if you approached everything around you with a sense of sacredness and reverence? Would your life improve? If nothing else, a sense of gratefulness and joy would accompany you at every step of your life.
In the end, you do not need to believe something for it to be true. If you see that something works for you, it makes sense to make it part of your life. But you can only see if something works once you have tried it. You have nothing to lose; you can only gain. Try to look at everything around you as sacred and see for yourself.
The method: acting without intention
The above insight is the pillar in which Taoism stands: to live a simple and balanced life in harmony with nature. Being a full-fledged spiritual movement, next to a philosophy, Taoism also offers various tools to help you live in harmony with nature and embrace the above insight. One of them is action without intention.
If living in harmony with the Tao can be slightly difficult to comprehend, action without intention sounds even more puzzling. What does it mean? How can you act without any intent? As challenging as it is to embrace it, it is still a possibility. And we know that because people have done it before.
Although it may initially seem complex to get, there are steps you can take to help you. For example, you can avoid engaging in action only for the sake of reward. Instead, you can set your heart upon the work and do not expect any future reimbursement.
Do not think of the paycheck at the end of the month. Nor for how this work can make you better. Just be with the process and enjoy every moment. There is a saying that if you have one eye on the target, you’ve got one eye left to get there. In other words, your expectations will shift your thoughts into the future instead of the present. And that can hinder your success.
The more you focus on the now, the easier it is to act without an intention. As you do so, you start to handle life with involvement and intensity, but without really caring about anything. In other words, you do things as your life depends on it, but actually, nothing matters at all. When you reach that state, your life can feel like a blessing.
- Your life could be enhanced if you approached everything around you with a sense of sacredness and reverence
- It would be wise to set your heart upon the work and do not expect any future reimbursement
- The more you focus on the now, the easier it is to act without an intention. And the closer you get to a life of involvement