Definition of Taoist Philosophy

What exactly is Taoism, and why on earth is it important to know about it? You came here to learn T'ai Chi, not some crazy chanting religion, right?

Actually, that's wrong. The basis of T'ai Chi and Qigong, in addition to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), is the Taoist philosophy. By gaining an understanding, however rudimentary, of the principles of Taoist thought, we can better appreciate why we do what we do when we practice our T'ai Chi. You could practice Wave Hands Like Clouds for your entire life without studying Taoism, true; but how much better it becomes when you know why the imagery of clouds is used in this exercise, why we use both hands at the same time, and why each exercise has a little psychological significance involved.

A basic working definition of Taoism, at least for our purposes, would be the individual's search for balance, contentment, and health by attempting to "align" themselves with the universe. This universe can be as big as the known universe, or it can be as small as your house or apartment. The alignment occurs through exercise, diet, meditation, medicine, and attitude adjustment. When you are balanced in thought as well as in body, you can be said to be in alignment with the Tao.

But what is the Tao?

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