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Taoist Philosophy for the 21st Century: an Alternative Way to View Life, Society, and the World
When people meet unexpectedly far from their hometown, they say, "It is a small world." People also say, our world has shrunk to a village, global village. Modern communication technology has brought people unprecedentedly closer especially since the end of the Cold War. We are facing a
new world that humans have never faced before. Do you think we need a totally new way of life? Many scholars say YES, and they predict that different cultures will
replace nations to compete with each other in this new world. The show on the stage of the new world will be around such a theme: What is the IDEAL way of life? Nobody expects a unified culture for the whole world, but different cultures do need to learn from each other to ensure a better life for their citizens.
We believe that the ancient wisdom of Chinese Taoist philosophy provides a good choice, since it emphasizes the value of naturalness and simplicity, which are complementary to the Western philosophy of materialism.
Chinese Taoist philosophy is a philosophy, a religion, and also a way of life. Chinese Taoist philosophy, founded by Lao Tzu (?604-484 BC) and Chuang Tzu (?369-286 BC) between the sixth and the third century BC, developed into a major religion of China in the second and the third century AD. This website is an introduction to this ancient wisdom in modern terms, a new interpretation. We believe that life is for us to enjoy, and joy resides in satisfaction with a simple life. Life should turn away from highly oriented goals which are institutionalized into modern society. Ancient primary society was genetically coded society, and modern secondary society was created by man to solve problems or achieve institutionalized goals.
We believe that the modern world with a powerless United Nations as a platform for countries to work out their difference at various levels is pretty much like the political situation of China from 2100 BC to 475 BC when a relatively powerless king and his court were trying to keep peace among numerous indepedent states and when human nature was highly respected in politics and in life, and it eventually gave birth to Chinese Taoist philosophy.
Modern Western culture, which dominates the whole world today, is really a mutation or breakout from more traditional cultures like Chinese or Indian culture. Modern secondary society has its own purpose, and the whole society including ranking and rewarding/punishing systems is built to serve this purpose. The purpose of the so-called money-oriented modern society is building wealth. The wealth-building society is good at economy, science and technology, and it is also good at war. But it is not good at making its people happy. On the contrary, such society puts tremendous pressure on people to work hard for money but at the expense of happiness.
Even happiness itself is seen as inextricably tied in with wealth-building. We feel happy if we make more money and drive a better car than our neighbours. The frequencies of five major disorders, namely cancer, stroke, heart attack, psychosis, suicide are all related to unhappiness. If the high-rocketing accumulation of wealth had even a little effect on our happiness, it would be enough to reduce those disorders significantly. The result is quite different. For example, the suicide rate doubled in the USA and Canada during the twentieth century.
The worst part of this wealth-building culture is its consumption of resources and the production of waste. According to the recently released WWF (World Wildlife Fund for Nature) report, we are already moving forward at a speed the earth cannot cope with. It will need two earths to support us by 2050, and it will need five earths if everyone of the world lives their lives as Americans do today. It is urgent to consider alternative ways to live our life. Taoist philosophy often stresses the value of naturalness and simplicity, a simple but joyful life which values human nature as a whole, and not just those parts of human nature which fit in with the highly competitive society.
This site will be updated periodically, and future topics will include Chinese traditional medicine (brief introduction), the theory and practice of Chinese life cultivation, further exploration into Chinese Taoist philosophy and so on. If you agree with us, please join us to make our world better for our children to live in. If you disagree with us, please also let us know in order to improve this website. And if you have comments or wish to contribute to this website, please contact us.
Please Read the New Esay:Taoist Philosophy for the 21st Century