Three Philosophies of Tai Chi

Tai Chi Chuan developed in China over the course of thousands of years. First there were the mystical seeking exercises of the Daoists, who developed the idea that the body is the temple of the soul. If you wanted to liberate the Spirit, you had to have a healthy body, and it needed to be controlled by the higher Self.

Next came the Confucians, who added order and systems to the rather vague and more laid back ideas of the Daoists. Everything had to fit into an obvious order and if this order was followed, balance and harmony was the result. The Daoists remind me of Democrats, and the Confucians are more like Republicans.

This was followed by the Buddhists, who appealed to the needs of the time for people to look beyond this life, with all its problems and hardships, into a chance for a better life in the hereafter. There were no rules, but there were systems to follow in order to achieve the final goal. I view the Buddhist path as more centered than either of the others.

Tai Chi reflects all these different philosophies: mysticism from the Daoists, systematic order from the Confucians, and compassion and heart from the Buddhists. Every time we practice, we reflect the beautiful woven structure of the great philosophies of China.