What is good according to Taoism?
Taoist ideas are formed around the concepts of simplicity and becoming one with the world. Taoists value the ability to not desire and conquer things, leaving them as they are and to let them develop on their own. According to Taoism, good is resting in non-action and smiling at the vicissitudes of the world.
Taoism’s approach to ethics is not designed to preach morality or virtue to others. Taoists do not tell others how to live their lives. However, they believe that each person must stop seeing him or herself as separate, and become one of mind with the community. “If you want to lead the people, you must learn to follow them” (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 66). By learning how to follow and connect to the people, one’s understanding of what the people want grows, and they will be able to please their community more effectively. This quote supports the idea that Taoists value tranquility because if a person is trying to lead a group of people without being able to relate to their wants, then it will result in disagreements and chaos.
Taoist ethics are concerned with becoming a good person who lives in harmony with all things and people. “People would be content with their simple, everyday lives, in harmony, and free of desire. When there is no desire, all things are at peace” (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 37). Taoists believe that by eliminating desire, there will be less conflict and more tranquility between people. Being more content with the situations that surround you, whether they are disastrous or fortunate, will result in an increase of euphoria and will cause you to hold less envious feelings towards others. Taoism requires human beings to be humble and recognize that not only are they not obligated to make the world a better place, they are actually so ignorant of what is really happening that they are likely to make things worse if they do take action. “Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone” (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 48). A person will feel more accepting