Peace of mind- the Tao
The Taoist view of our existence is that we are part of a fundamental unity that is nature, a continuous flow that is “the Way” or Tao. One translation of a Chinese character depicting this was given to me many years ago by a dear friend. Translated, it is “How graceful it is to bend with the wind like corn”. The picture has taken pride of place in my office and inspired me for 45 years.
The Yin and Yang principle in Chinese philosophy says that nature consists of two primordial forces that are opposites dark/light, male female etc. The Tao is manifested in the interplay of these two forces in harmony, completing the circle of life.
The philosophy of Taoism is not based on selfless persons but of persons fulfilled and completed by following the Way. So, we are not looking for deliverance from the present cycle of existence but discovering that this is the only true reality. By living in harmony with nature we can lose the Buddhist idea of suffering. We can achieve a state like Nirvana, here and now and by following the Way, and being released from suffering (unfulfillment, frustration, dissatisfaction).
I believe it is this sense of harmony that gives us peace of mind when observing an established natural garden or unspoilt landscape.
In 1996 I visited Eheiji monastery in Japan to take instruction in Soto Zen meditation. Soto Zen meditation also seems to teach us not to try to go beyond what we are but come to terms with what we are, to find our “Buddha Nature”. Not to try to change our state of mind but accept the one we are in. Accepting the moment as it is. Be open to the present. Let go. I was told that becoming “one with our nature” was the ultimate state of joy and beauty.