How to Live a Balanced Life With Taoism

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Tao Te Ching" by Lao Tzu. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is there no such thing as “good” and “evil” in Taoism? How can one achieve balance through objectivity?

The Taoist belief is that one must live a balanced life and can achieve this by living objectively. This means that a Taoist master must embrace all people without labeling or defining them.

Continue on to learn more about objectivity and balance in Taoism.

How to Live a Balanced Life

To live according to the Tao, strive to achieve a balanced life through objectivity. The Tao is the birthplace of all things and doesn’t discriminate between “good” and “evil.” Likewise, you must embrace all people and things, disregarding any sense of personal perspective and removing the concepts of “good” and “evil” from your mind. 

When we label or define our surroundings, we create conflict, attributing particular qualities based on our personal biases. This manipulates our view of reality in the process. For example, if you define modesty as “good,” then you’ll inherently paint anything you view as indecent as “evil.”

Instead of attributing qualities to the world around you, embrace things as they take their natural course. Don’t linger on the past or the future. Exist in the present, engaging with whatever the universe has brought you. 

For instance, if the sun is shining, enjoy that moment of warmth. However, if it suddenly begins to rain, instead of mourning the loss of sunlight, embrace the refreshing droplets. Don’t label one as “good” and one as “bad.” Instead, enjoy the present moment. 

Note: With objectivity comes uncertainty, as you can’t hold onto the convictions of the past or the desires for your future. To be closer to the Tao, embrace this uncertainty and trust that the Tao will guide you to where you need to be. 

Let the universe inform your perspective. The greatest minds allow their uncertainty to inspire and guide them. They don’t force their perspective onto the world. Don’t confirm your biases by contorting the workings of the universe to conform to your view of the world.

Yin and Yang

To achieve harmony with the Tao, you must balance yin, or 阴 (darkness, assertiveness) with yang, or 阳 (lightness, humility). If you tend to use one more than the other, you risk throwing yourself out of balance, disconnecting yourself from the Tao in the process.

How to Live a Balanced Life With Taoism

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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