dao

I
or tao

In Chinese philosophy, a fundamental concept signifying the correct or divine way.

In Confucianism, dao signifies a morally correct path of behaviour. In Daoism the concept is more encompassing and includes the visible process of nature, by which all things change, as well as the principle underlying this process. This principle, known as Absolute Dao, can be only imperfectly understood by the practitioner but is the guiding principle in life. Daoists view life and death as stages of Absolute Dao and advocate a way of life that brings one closer to conformity with essential nature.
II
(as used in expressions)
Quan Dao Hoang Sa
Chang Tao ling
Hsi sha Ch'ün tao

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Chinese“road” or “way”Wade-Giles  tao 

      in Chinese philosophy, a fundamental concept signifying “the proper way,” or “heaven's way.” In the Confucian tradition, dao signifies a morally proper path of human conduct and is thus limited to behaviour. In the rival school of Daoism (the name of which derives from dao), the concept takes on a metaphysical sense transcending the human realm. The Daodejing, a Daoist classic of contested authorship and date (sometime between the 8th and 3rd century BCE), opens with these words: “The dao that can be spoken about is not the Absolute Dao.” The Absolute Dao thus defies verbal definition, but language can make suggestions that may lead to an intuitive or mystical understanding of this fundamental reality.

      One aspect of the dao, however, can be perceived by man, namely, the visible process of nature by which all things change. From an observation of the visible manifestation of the Absolute Dao, it is possible to intuit the existence of an ultimate substratum that is the source of all things. Awareness of this process then leads toward an understanding of the Absolute Dao.

      Daoists view life and death as simply different stages, or manifestations, of the Absolute Dao and consequently advocate a life in accord with nature. The serenity of such a life stands in sharp contrast to the life of public service advocated by Confucius.

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Universalium. 2010.

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