America is a very diverse country; however, few people seem to realize just how different the world outside of America is. The world is a diverse place, and there are religions that are polar-opposite to what the stereotypical American believes: I want what I want, and I want it now. Taoism is one such religion that is often just written off as Chinese and done with, but is actually a very universal idea.
Taoism is a very Oriental concept. It is viewed by many as complicated, yet that is because it, like many Asian religions, includes a great “awakening”, so anyone who isn’t aware does not know and cannot understand. The idea of just accepting things for the way they are and being content with the world for what it is, contrasts distinctly with the more Occidental view of working to get what is wanted in life. In spite of that, there are modern examples of Taoism in Western culture. One example is the bear Whinnie the Pooh, or Pooh for short. Whinnie the Pooh is a great example of Taoism in its heart. Pooh is a bear, who isn’t really intelligent, or outstanding in any way. He is just a normal bear, who lives in a forest with his friends. In the end though, it is Pooh who is always content with his life, and never tries to fight it. In this way, Pooh is the epitome of Tao (Hoff, xi). He excels at just being himself, and unlike some people, he is very content with being himself. Instead of trying to make himself into something that he is not, he embraces his flaws and his talents and allows himself to be pleased with the present.
The Uncarved Block, or P’u, is a Taoist principle that simply explains what Taoists value most: simplicity. It is best explained in this paragraph from Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh “When you discard arrogance, complexity, and few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.” There are many people who spend their lives just working themselves to the bone on everything, and if they are asked why, they will reply something along the lines of “I need to work hard to improve my future” or “I’ll be able to take a break when I retire.” Such words are just waiting for a future that may never come, and those people are trapped in an endless loop, searching for happiness. Those who are like Uncarved Blocks and just enjoy life for what it is are able to see the real truth of Taoism.
Taoism was founded around the fourth century BCE. According to Daoism and Chinese Community Traditions, Lao-Tze is credited for Taoism’s founding, although this religion has undergone much change, reform, and development over the years. There are three official holidays in Taoism: Shun, Yao, and Yu. They occur on the fifteenth of the first, seventh, and tenth lunar months. Those days are important because they celebrate heaven, earth, and water. The symbol for Taoism is Yin and Yang. They are the two opposite yet complementary forces that exist in all things of the universe. They generate the motions and changes of everything of the universe (“Concepts Within Taoism”). They also balance the universe, making sure everything is just what it needs to be.
Te is virtue. Taoists have multiple interpretations of this, ranging from one’s ability to be one with Tao and one’s ability to be honest and virtuous (“Concepts Within Taoism”). My interpretation of this is that one’s ability to be able to be honest and accepting of one’s self is valued as Te. Since Taoism is all about accepting things as they are, and being content with the present for how it is now, Te is one’s ability to be able to do that.
China is a very old country, and had very distinctive beliefs in its early years. These beliefs form the basis for Taoism and Confucianism – China’s two main belief systems. These beliefs have also influenced many Asian religions and even sects of