3 Taoist Tenets to Take With You Every Day

The Urban Monk

If you were living in harmony with the world, you’d know it.

The truth is, people living 200, or 500, or 1000 years ago weren’t much better at living in harmony with the world. Closer to the land, yes. By their own hands and skills, yes. But in harmony?

That takes intentionality.

Time didn’t disconnect us from spiritual harmony — time compression did.

We wanted bigger, better, easier, automatic. And now we’ve got it, but what did it cost us?

When I found Taoism in my early twenties (or rather, when it found me), I wasn’t living in harmony. I didn’t even think about living in harmony. I wouldn’t have been able to explain to another person what that meant to me.

I was just a dude who thought I was going to be a traditional doctor.

Taoism, or Daoism (depending on who you ask) taught me to trust in the interconnectivity of the constant Dao.

The Dao is nameless; it exists outside of universal hierarchies and power structures; it is the “imperceptible, indiscernible”; it contains within its breadth the respiration of all the forces that balance the world.

The Dao literally means “the way.”

The way beyond our understanding of reality, the way beyond our myopic view of the world, the way nature expands and contracts and makes room for itself and for others.

We are it, and it is us.

The philosopher Lao Tzu, and many others, wrote much about how to weave the principles of Taoism into how you show up in the world.

Whether you ascribe to Taoism or not, believe in the Dao or not, live like a monk or not…

There are three concepts that can help you strive to live in harmony, reseat yourself in a grander perspective, and experience stillness without anxiety.

Let’s learn more.

Yin, Yang, Yin with Yang, Yang with Yin

You know what the ancient symbol looks like — perhaps you didn’t know it was Taoist, however.

“Yin” represents femininity, and “yang” represents masculinity. (An oversimplified explanation.)

Everyone, everything, every ethereal intangible needs both.

Nature is perceived in dualities. Every force exists in reaction to its opposite, in concert with its opposite, and interdependently with its opposite. That pattern, like a spider web’s crystal net, is mirrored and repeated throughout the natural world.

Living in tune with it allows you to see it everywhere.

And its benefits are more than conceptual — how much more compassion would there be in the world if we could see parts of ourselves in others, parts of them in us, and understand the necessity of both?

Speaking of compassion…

Patience, Simplicity, and Compassion

The core of the world isn’t complex. There are many things that exist beyond our understanding, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t simple.

These three truths should follow you everywhere and always inform your behavior.

Patience must be extended unilaterally — to ourselves, to our friends and family, to those with whom we disagree. The world vacillates and rotates at a predetermined pace, and our hurrying it won’t make anything faster.

Simplicity should guide your thoughts and actions. Energy conservation is sacred in Taoism; we should be deliberate in the decisions we make about how we move through the spaces we occupy. That means socially, internally, and materially — live simply and plainly. Adornments often only serve to burden.

Compassion starts with the self. When we can believe ourselves to be complete reflections of the whole of nature, to be microcosms of the universal condition of living things, we know that everything in us has a purpose and belongs to the greater design of the world. And so does everyone else.

Fall In with the Flux

The only thing you can get used to about this life is that nothing will ever stay the same.

And it isn’t meant to.

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to,” said Lao Tzu.

The dissonance and friction we feel as we beat against the bad news of our lives and our worlds stem from a lack of acceptance.

The nature of the universe isn’t just evolution.

It’s devolution, contraction, expansion, mutation. And instead of grappling with the things we cannot change, we must flow with the true constants of nature and without the weight of our expectations, find purpose and clarity.

It is this principle that allows its followers grace under pressure and peace within turmoil.

You don’t need to be ascetic or wanton (primordial chaos.)

You don’t need to practice Qi Gong or meditate like I do, (although truly, that is the work. That is the way.)

If you could start with yin and yang, simplicity, patience, and compassion, and flowing with the flux…

That would be enough.

If you enjoyed these thoughts and think we’ve got something in common, I have a feeling you’re going to love the Urban Monk Academy. It’s the home of every class I teach — from Qi Gong to Life Gardening to Dream Yoga and even Tantra — and for two weeks, you can try it for free.

NY Times Best Selling Author, filmmaker, and founder of whole.tv.

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