You know you want to
A lot of people are attracted to Tai Chi because of the associated Taoist philosophy. It turns out that there’s perhaps less historical proof of a link between Tai Chi and Taoism than some people would like. You can think of Taoism more as an intellectual ‘bolt on’ addition to an existing martial art, or perhaps as a reimagining of Taoism In Action in the 1900s, a bit like when somebody remixes the classic Beatles albums with a modern house groove. But anyway, for whatever valid (or invalid), historical reasons, Taoism and Tai Chi are now part and parcel of the same package.
I think a lot of Westerners are attracted to Taoism (and Buddhism) because it represents something that has been lost in our culture. (Ironically it’s probably even harder to find in modern, face-obsessed, materialistic 20th Century Chinese culture, but that’s another story). But it wasn’t always like this. Ancient Greece and Rome had some of the same ideas represented in their various schools of philosophy. Philosophy to them wasn’t the dead, academic, historical subject that we know today. It was a living breathing thing that hadn’t been pummelled to death by religion yet.
Stoicism is one of the philosophical schools of ancient Greece and Rome that appeals to me – it tends towards the practical, the ‘how to live your life well’, of Taoism, with probably a bit more real-world applicability and more obvious steps to get somewhere. It was followed by slaves and emperors, so it must have been useful for all walks of life. Thanks to the Stoicism Today page you can become a Stoic for a week – give the philosophy a spin, and let it marinate in your brain for a while.
Go on, it’s free – try the one week course – your slaves will thank you for it: