Updated: Jan 10, 2020
In Chinese philosophy, The Dao simply refers to ‘The Way’
It’s the single principle underlying the universe, combining theories of yin and yang with codes of behaviour that are in harmony with the natural order.
It's offshoot of Taoism is very much about alignment with the cycles, seasons and the order derived from the natural universe.
We often look to the east for inspiration and wisdom, seeking ancient insights that will make our lives somehow more balanced and peaceful.
When considering The Dao, let's be clear, it makes reference to ‘The Way’, so the suggestion is that a code of behaviour actually exists that will bring you into greater harmony with that of the natural order.
Suggesting that there is ‘a way’ or a ‘natural order’ at all would seem contradictory to the general rhetoric emanated in modern pop culture, that the self, your own subjective opinion is the only one that matters.
See the problem we have is, that we don’t like to follow too many rules.
We will for some things, but seemingly not for other – the fact that you have the ability to make choices, affords you that.
This has inevitably lead to the religion of no religion and the belief of non belief. Meaning, you take only that suits you and your lifestyle and you discard the rest as insignificant.
This can be a dangerous game, fraught with uncertainty and pitfalls as you try and navigate yourself through life on your own terms.
The Dao suggests that there is an order that exists whether you believe it or not, the only point is, are you going to get on board with it?
There is a certain naivety in suggesting that you are the only answer to your own salvation; that you can continue to live contrary to nature and still somehow remain whole and complete.
This is not about taking away your ability to reason. But developing your understanding to a point, so there is that a sense of submission at some deeper fundamental level.
Accepting that there may be a way in which the universe functions reflects great humility.
Instead of constantly trying to develop your own way, perhaps it might be best to enrich your understanding of all that’s gone before you, finding the Dao and then aligning yourself with it.
This may be contrary to the mantra suggesting that ‘doing what makes you happy’ is the only thing that matters.
Doing what’s good for you, what’s right, doesn’t always feel great, but there is certain fulfilment that goes along with knowing that you are going the right ‘way' simply by dropping the pretence and allowing yourself to be.