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Taoist Philosophy

Awaken. Transform. Empower.

Tao means “the Way”. Te means the “shape and power,” how the Tao manifests. Ching as “book.” Te adds light and color to the Way.


Tao Te Ching translates very roughly as "the way of integrity". In its 81 verses it delivers a treatise on how to live in the world with goodness and integrity: an important kind of wisdom in a world where many people believe such a thing to be impossible.


Written by Lao-tzu in 400BC, 500 years before Christ, the Tao Te Ching is the most translated book in the world. It is known as the “Book of the Tao,” and is a guide to cultivating a life of peace, serenity, and compassion. Through aphorisms and parable, it leads readers toward the Tao, or the “Way”: harmony with the life force of the universe.


“True mastery can be gained by letting things go their own way.”


Lao Tzu explains the seven virtues of water and their connection with the way of life. “Water is the true embodiment of humility, depth, kindness, integrity, unbiased nature, versatility, and going with the flow.”


“Like water, one must be content and adapt to things according to time, without changing one's actual composition.”


“Trying to understand is like straining through muddy water. Have the patience to wait! Be still and allow the mud to settle. Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear.”


Translating the Taoist philosophy and the Tao te Ching is challenging. There are many different scholarly interpretations. I have been studying and practicing Taoism for 40 years now and I am constantly learning, even when I reread the same book, I see something new and enlightening each time. As the saying goes “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” And, like the Taoist philosophy, there is no beginning and no end, only eternity.


What is Taoism?

To many people, a confusing aspect of Taoism is its very definition. Many religions will happily push judgment and dogma which in reflection defines a person. Taoism flips this around. It starts by teaching a truth; “The Tao” is indefinable. It then follows up by teaching that each person can discover the 

Tao on their terms. 


A teaching like this can be very hard to grasp when most people desire very concrete definitions in their own life.


A simple way to start learning the definition of Taoism is to start within yourself. Here are three easy starting steps to learning Taoism:

  1. Don’t concentrate on the meaning of Tao (this will come later naturally)

  2. Understand what Taoism is. Taoism is more than just a “philosophy” or a “religion”. Taoism should be understood as being: A system of belief, attitudes, and practices set towards the service and living to a person’s nature.

  3. The path of understanding Taoism is simply accepting oneself. This leads to inner peace.  Live life and discover who you are. Your nature is ever changing and is always the same. Don’t try to resolve the various contradictions in life, instead learn acceptance of your nature.


What are the 3 main beliefs of Taoism?

The important Taoist principles are inaction, simplicity and living in harmony with nature


What is the Chinese philosophy of do nothing?

In Taoism, a Chinese philosophical school, there is a principle called 'Wu Wei,' which means "effortless action" or "doing nothing." "Doing nothing" doesn't mean you shouldn't do anything. It instead means that you should listen to your inner voice, as intuitive actions are sometimes better than rationally forced ones.


The Tao is comprised of 5 basic teachings, or principles. These 5 teachings can transform your life and your horsemanship.

  1. Simplicity - patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”

    Life can get complicated quite easily, but sometimes all we need to do is get back to the basics. When feeling overwhelmed, these guidelines present essential rules in how to manage actions, relationships, and self-worth in a few, concise sentences.


  2. Honor yourself - Allow you to be you, feel things and see things the way you do. Course correct on the way when you deem necessary. But ultimately, don’t wish for yourself to be different. Work with what you have instead and strive for balance. Get rid of the idea of how you should be based on the surroundings and others’ expectations. Ask yourself honest questions and patiently wait for you to show up with the answers. Because it matters.


You are a perfectly unique composition of stunning combinations. And even if you don’t see it or feel it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t the absolute beauty.


  1. Change – life is a cycle. The perfectly rounded circle shape of the Taoist symbol represents the continuation of life and all things. One of its indications is the cycle of life — a deer ate tree leaves in the forest to stay alive. When it died, its decaying body fed the soil that grows the trees. That is a simple cycle that we can observe. There are many larger, more prominent universal mechanisms that are too complex for our perception. Some of our senses are not yet developed to even comprehend or process the change. That results in our feeling of being lost, of being treated unfairly, of blasting anger towards the unknown. Simply put, we are playing a game that we don’t know all the rules and winning in one area doesn’t apply to another.


“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” - Lao Tzu –


  1. Flow – go with the flow. “When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.”

    This quote explains the concept of wu wei, uncontrived action or natural non-intervention. In life, rather than fighting against the conditions in our lives, we can allow things to take their natural course. This can also mean that when you don’t know what to do, do nothing. Instead, only jump at opportunities when you feel ready.


  2. Harmony – is achieved through balance. Balancing is an act but also a habit. We walk through life thinking it is a journey on a paved road leading somewhere.


But actually, we are constantly walking on a line. Between good and evil, between reacting and responding, between giving and taking.


We are constantly at a test.


And instead of letting it pressure us, we could take it as an immense blessing! Examples of this mindset come from Dr. Wayne W. Dyer: 

  • Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.

  • How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.

  • With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose.

  • When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.

  • You are not stuck where you are unless you decide to be.

  • Conflict cannot survive without your participation.

  • Circumstances do not make a man, they reveal him.

The Chinese concept of Yin and Yang describes nature in dualities with two opposite, complementary, and interdependent forces. 


In other words, two halves balancing together that make a whole. Yin and Yang always flows and changes with time. One aspect increases as the other decreases, and this balance continues as a pattern in nature. The night becomes the day. The sky meets the earth.

Examining and understanding these patterns in ourselves and around us brings more balance in life. For example, a person that becomes too rigid may break under pressure. Instead, they should become softer and more flexible to restore the balance of yin to yang.


How do we apply his teachings of the Tao Te Ching to our everyday life and to

our horsemanship?

By learning how to be in harmony with their nature, who they are. Get to know your horse, understand their nature and their behaviors, their intrinsic needs, and their personal needs.


In my experience…every bad behavior stems from 4 things:
  1. A need, or needs, not being met

  2. Coping mechanism

  3. Environmental stressors

  4. A lack of inner balance and the ability to self-regulate emotions

The Tao of Horsemanship can assist in teaching you how to nurture simplicity, non-action and be in harmony with your life, relationships, and horsemanship.

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