Complete the following questions in detail. Answer each question with a 1- or 2-paragraph response that includes a reference citation. Make use of Experiencing the World’s Religions and other sources in your research as you complete the questions.
1. Describe the principles of yang and yin.
As stated by the Shen-nong website, “Ancient people were greatly interested in the relationships and patterns that occurred in nature. Instead of studying isolated things, the viewed the world as a harmonious and holistic entity” (“Yin yang,” 2005, p. 1). Yin and yang are best described as complementary ways for explaining relationships between objects. Yin is referred to as dark, cold, lower, rest, inward, and female. Yang is referred to as bright, hot, upper, movement, outward, and male. These two complementary forces helped the ancient people explain and understand nature, energy, and the human body.
2. The main scripture in Daoism is the Daodejing (Tao Te Ching). What is the history and importance of this text for the tradition? The title of this book can be translated as Dao/Tao meaning ‘way’, De/Te meaning ‘virtue’, and Jing/Ching meaning ‘great book’. All of these put together can translate into ‘The Great Book on the Way of Virtue’. The history of the Tao Te Ching has been the subject of many scholarly debates. There are three stories about the person who wrote the Tao Te Ching. First is that Laozi was an official in the imperial archives and a contemporary of Confucius. Secondly is that Lao Laizi, also a contemporary of Confucius, wrote the book in 15 parts.
Thirdly is that Laozi was actually a Grand Historian and astrologer Lao Dan. According to James David Lees, “Legends claim variously that Laozi was ‘born old’ and that he lived for 996 years, with twelve previous incarnations starting around the time of the Three Sovereigns before the thirteen as Laozi” (Lees, 2014, p. 1). This creates discussion about whether Laozi was an actual person who wrote the Tao Te Ching as some Western scholars have concluded or if the Tao Te Ching is just a collection of work from various authors. Chinese scholars have accepted that Laozi was an actual person and that there are exaggerated stories and folklore about him.
3. How are Daoist ideals expressed through art? Offer several examples. Paintings are a common vehicle for expressing Daoism ideals through art. The Consumer Guide states, “Although these arts are often profound in their expressive ability, they are not encumbered by the restrictions of intellectual content” (“Taoist Arts,” 2014, p. 1). Taoist art also involves calligraphy. Painting and calligraphy were not considered professions but yet a practice that indicated one maturity in the beliefs of Taoism. Carvings, pottery, and fine linens are also considered art. However, meditation can also be seen as a form of art in Taoism.
4. What challenges does Daoism face in the modern world?
Daoism is a daily guide to living so a person can experience the most of their own self. Daoism teaches the follower to look inside and to gain knowledge through self-exploration and to connect with our inner nature. The yin and yang shows the complementary sides of objects and nature, even the human body. The Taoist Sanctuary of San Diego states, “All is Tao. All opposites are in actuality part of one whole, giving rise to one another. Neither is excluded, neither one is superior to the other” (“Taoist Principles,” 2014, p. 1). The challenge for Daoism in the modern world is getting people to slow down and to give themselves time to do inner-reflection and find their inner harmony. The modern world is so busy and is virtually non-stop that people are always busy and unable to find the time or place to stop and discover them self.
5. Explain a situation to which following the Daoist principle of wu wei might be beneficial to you or others. In what situation might following the principle of wu wei be harmful in some way? “Wuwei is built upon the working of Nature. And nothing in this Universe can be more powerful than the working of Nature — manifested in all things we see, all things we do” (“Wu Wei,” 2012, p. 1). The Daoist principle of wu wei will be beneficial to me as I start a new job on Monday. I will be entering a residency practice with close to 100 people and I will need to discuss with the employees ways that they see the practice improving. By asking the question then sitting back and letting the conversation build on its own I will be following wu wei. If I don’t interact or intervene with questions and let the employees group energy control the level of feedback then I am following wu wei. Wu wei can be harmful if you continually interrupt the natural process of nature. In gardening, the gardner must understand once they have established the ideal growing area for the plants that letting nature take its course and grow the plant is what must happen. The gardener must not interfere by messing with the soil of the plant as this would be harmful to the plant and its growing cycle with nature.
Ageless Wisdom for a Modern World. (2014). Retrieved from http://taoistsanctuary.org/ageless-wisdom-for-a-modern-world/ Lees, D. J. (2014). The Tao Te Ching – An Overview. Retrieved from http://davidjameslees.wordpress.com/taoist-philosophy/tao-te-ching/ Taoist Philosophy. (2014). Retrieved from http://people.howstuffworks.com/taoist-philosophy5.htm What is yin yang theory? (2005). Retrieved from http://www.shen-nong.com/eng/principles/whatyinyang.html Wuwei or Non-Doing The Tao of Letting Go. (2012). Retrieved from http://tao-in-you.com/wuwei.html