Practical Taoism (2)

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Tao Te Ching is crammed full of insights. You just need to tease them out and consider their meaning and application.
Some are more obvious than others. Many cannot be easily articulated but make sense nonetheless. Topics include:

  1. The limitations of words and thoughts

  2. Mutual arising

  3. Nobody special

  4. Inclusive

  5. Detachment

  6. Composure

  7. Emptiness

  8. Selfless

  9. Goodness

  10. Excess

  11. Receptivity

  12. Valuing space

  13. Appearance

  14. Substance

  15. Success

  16. Failure

  17. Formless

  18. Character

  19. Awareness

  20. Stillness

  21. Equanimity

  22. Leading from behind

  23. Propriety

  24. Conventions

  25. Simplicity

  26. Humility

  27. Opinion

  28. Perspective

  29. Letting go

  30. Trust

  31. Being concise

  32. Strain

  33. Self-importance

  34. Definitions and their limitations

  35. Sincerity

  36. Non-contention

  37. Yielding

  38. Control

  39. Ownership

  40. Not forcing

  41. The folly of war

  42. Beyond concepts

  43. True nature

  44. Wholeness

  45. Subtlety

  46. Reversal

  47. Implicit

  48. Inherent

  49. Motive

  50. Superficiality

  51. Image

  52. Not interfering

  53. Honour

  54. Perception

  55. Loss

  56. Gain

  57. Creativity

  58. Comprehension

  59. Virtue

  60. Gentleness

  61. Softness

  62. Opportunity

  63. Silence

  64. Being

  65. Attention

  66. Context

  67. Importance

  68. Significance

  69. Achievement

  70. Means and ends

  71. Tranquillity

  72. Desire

  73. Appreciation

  74. Presence

  75. Insight

  76. Seeking

  77. Unlearning

  78. Allowing

  79. Not struggling

  80. Wisdom

  81. Compassion

  82. Conceit

  83. Living

  84. Dying

  85. Balance

  86. Accord

  87. Relationship

  88. Detail

  89. Endurance

  90. Cultivation

  91. Innocence

  92. Purity

  93. Suppleness

  94. Harmony

  95. Being ordinary

  96. Unobtrusive

  97. Grace

  98. Emulating water

  99. Not knowing

  100.  Wonder

Many of the pages on this website are an exploration of themes found in Tao Te Ching, Chuang Tzu and I Ching.


Few people ever consider that their most cherished beliefs and opinions are simply received knowledge. You did not come by the information yourself. Somebody told you.
People regard the world according to their conditioning. Your education, parents, friends and society have determined how you regard the world.
What you have learned about the world is largely second-hand.


Taoism is scientific; it is not a belief-system. Reality exists whether you believe in it or not. Tangible factual substance lies at the root of Taoism.
If you cannot touch it or observe it, you do not waste time speculating about it. Be open to what is happening around you and learn to appreciate the underlying principles involved.
This is how Tao pertains to tai chi.


You should be vary wary of Taoist instructors, masters and gurus. Although you may not be skilled enough to assess the value of their knowledge, you must treat everything they say with caution.
Take the information, then explore what they have said. This way, you can understand it for yourself. The role of an instructor must be to point the way. Do not ask them to hold your hand as well.


If you fail to read about Tao and simply focus on the martial art, you will miss everything. Tai chi is not limited to the forms, movements or applications.
Your tai chi development is unequivocally tied to your understanding of Tao. When you can see how and why you are getting somewhere.

Eastern ways

The culture in which tai chi evolved was foreign to our own. They had very different approaches to living. To understand tai chi, you must see what the Taoists saw.

Teaching method

Some relief agencies supply food to the starving people in Africa.
Other agencies teach the African villagers to grow their own crops, to work with the land and the seasons, to cooperate with nature and each other.
They teach foundation skills that enable the villagers to live unaided. Sifu Waller teaches the second way. If you want a hand-out, we could give it to you but you would never understand the system...
Students who research, explore, experiment and read are the ones who will understand.

A journey

The syllabus is ultimately about finding your own way. At some point in your training you will begin to experience immense surges of inspiration. These will lead down unexpected paths of study.

Worth reading

The Tao/Dao
The Way and Its Power
The Way
The Vinegar Tasters

Proper lightness springs from the root of heaviness.
Proper action springs from the root of stillness.

If a traveller can remain calm and peaceful throughout the ordeals of an arduous journey,
Then how much more is required of a leader in the heat of a crisis?

Without heaviness, lightness is frivolous.
Without stillness, action is impetuous.

(Lao Tzu)

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Page created 18 April 2005
Last updated 16 June 2023