What is called Taoism: One being Tao, the way of self cultivation, the pursuit of the utmost Tao; Two being to teach, enlightening all disciples and the people of the world, the pursuit of the utmost good. The core of Taoist thought is self deliverance and delivering others, self deliverance is the precondition for delivering others, only those who have delivered themselves can deliver other sentient beings. First of all one must cultivate Tao, the pursuit of reverting back to innocence and returning to perfection, going back to one’s most pure and true nature. Cultivating Tao requires putting in effort, it is not something that ordinary people can achieve, one must discard entirely fame, honour and wealth of the secular world. By means of cultivating the self attain the state of utmost perfection.
Only after oneself has attained the state of goodness, can one enlighten the world. And the pursuit of enlightening the world is the utmost good. What is called utmost good not only is it beneficial to oneself, it is also beneficial to Heaven and Earth, it is also beneficial to the myriad things, no strings attached, and without any other impure ideas, that is utmost good.
Truly great virtue, utmost perfection and utmost good, with the self heading towards the direction of good, others will also head towards this direction. This is Taoism’s most foremost spirit. This spirit is circulated from mouth to mouth amongst the common folk, describing the state of utmost perfection such as “removing the false retaining the true”; the concept of good is expanded into “curbing evil and propagating good”, “abandoning evil and comply with good” etc, Taoist enlightenment is mainly to direct the world in the field of morality towards good.
Taoism itself stresses the cultivation of the self and enlightenment, the core of Taoism can be epitomized with four words, that is self deliverance delivering others, first deliver one’s self only then will one be qualified to deliver others.
Taoist Reverend Meng Zhiling
Translated by Wang Chongwei 王崇伟