Natural order

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What is natural order?

Natural order is the Way things are when nobody interferes. Before human society developed, the universe existed. When humans are long gone, the universe will continue.
There is a harmony to existence, and humans are yet to live in balance with everything else.

Is it natural?

Taoism is concerned with living in a natural way. In harmony with the natural world and our own natures.
When faced with various lifestyle choices a tai chi person will ask themselves whether or not the activity/food/product is natural...

The world has music for those who listen.

(William Shakespeare)

Food & drink

A natural diet is fairly easy to follow. There are many books and free on-line resources providing useful information.
Commonly avoided: additives, preservatives, flavourings, colouring, GM, pesticides, growth hormone, oestrogen, processed, bleached.


Many of the things we do with our bodies are unnatural. Bad physical habits commence with school; hunching over a desk for hours at a time, staying still rather than moving around.
Many everyday actions involve unnatural and potentially deleterious body use, for example:

  1. Driving a car

  2. Sitting at a desk

  3. Using a mobile phone

  4. Using a computer

  5. Watching TV

  6. Reading electronic books

  7. Hunched over a drop handle bike

  8. Gardening

  9. Doing household chores

  10. Using a videogame controller

  11. Sport

  12. Running

  13. Lifting weights

  14. Operating machinery

  15. Using tools

It is not necessary to avoid every unnatural activity but we do need to be mindful of how we use our bodies.

Skin care

Parabens, sodium laureth sulphate, silicone, parfum, petroleum based ingredients. alcohol, mineral oil are commonly avoided by people seeking a natural skincare regime.


Lighting, plastic, fumes, chemicals, noise pollution, toxins, paint, cleaning products, detergents can all contribute to an unnatural working situation.
Sitting or standing for long periods of time is not natural, not is staring at a TV screen or monitor.

In the Western world, we seek the answers to life with our rational minds, using science and technology to gather information and to adapt the environment so that it suits us.
The other creatures of the world are at one with nature.
Instead of seeking to adapt the universe to suit them, they live in harmony with their surroundings.

(John Lash)


Balancing is the process of moving in accord with how things are. Tai chi is all about balancing oneself.
Rather than change the world to suit your idea of it, you change how you think so that you can really see.

Tai chi

Tai chi aims to return the human body to state of natural suppleness and mobility we started life with.
Through careful exercise and an increased degree of awareness, students learn to move in a new way. They cease to be clumsy. Awkward positions such as hunching over feel to be unpleasant and 'wrong'.

Natural body use

Humans have long, powerful legs and weak arms and shoulders. This is because we are bipeds, not monkeys.
Many people pump up their arms and shoulders in order to gain a strong, manly-looking physique. Usually the motive is vanity and as such goes against nature.
We must work mainly on our buttocks and legs, not our arms and shoulders.

Wu tze

'Wu tze' means to be 'without law and yet orderly'. It is how the Taoist sages regarded nature.
In his book 'Taoism: Way beyond seeing', Alan Watts speaks of how Western culture has adopted a mechanised approach to the perception of nature.
Nature cannot be understood and explained using a particular way, method or perspective. It just is.


In Taoism, a person seeks to return to their natural state. Animals in nature do not need to be managed and organised.
Similarly, people have an innate resistance to authority and feel more comfortable being their own boss.

No politics

Taoists are opposed to the idea that power and domination are necessary. They advocate more co-operative, anti-hierarchical approaches to situations.
In Taoism, control is seen as the opposite of anarchy. An unbalanced object will settle without intervention, it does not need to be instructed or assisted.

What is chaos?

Chaos simply means that a pattern cannot be determined. Cloud formations as an example of this. Humans apply meaning and measurement to all things in an attempt to understand the world.
Can you measure love? Understanding must be expressed in terms of what you already know. Existence is unknowable, so how can it be expressed?

Taoism and natural order

Tai chi students have no interest in politics or control. The world and reality itself are recognised as being incomprehensible to the human brain.
No person can understand every aspect of reality - people, animals, water, land, energy, gases, space, thoughts, opinions, ideas... There are innumerable relationships between everyone and everything.
It is too vast to be said, too enormous to be thought. Taoism teaches a person to let each thing go its natural way, to settle of its own accord.

We have been interfering with a complex system of relationships which we do not understand,
and the more we study its details,
the more it eludes us by revealing still more details to study.
As we try to comprehend and control the world it runs away from us.

 (Alan Watts)

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Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 16 June 2023