[From Chinese tao: track, path, way.]

  1. (ethics) An ancient strand of Chinese thought that stressed the inherent untrustworthiness of appearances, the unity of the real world behind the appearances, the necessity of understanding this real unity spontaneously, the cultivation of one's character so that one could become a free spirit, an ideal of effortless activity or "wu-wei" (best understood as doing nothing that is contrary to nature or your own native character), a focus on inner peace and lack of disturbance, and a political outlook similar to libertarianism. In general, Taoism as described in the Tao Te Ching and by Chuang Tzu (4th century BCE) was a reaction against the more conservative and action-oriented tradition of Confucianism; in addition, later forms of Taoism borrowed heavily from Buddhism.

The Ism Book by Peter Saint-Andre

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