For Taoism to become intelligible it is important to present its coreideological assumptions. Tao, the central concept of Chinese wisdom,translated the “way”, is the abstract innovator and guide (yet, not creator)of the universe. From an original state of chaos, Tao created twofundamental forces, Yin and Yang, the organic aspects of the world.
, the classic Taoist text, illustrates how Taoism is not a religionbut a kind of “nature mysticism”. In this framework, one may enquireabout the human position. In response to this, Morris writes of Taoism:
In this naturalistic philosophy, human beings were seen as a microcosm of the universe, and subject to the same principles and influences as natureitself. The only manner in which humans could attain the right way, theTao, was to emulate and follow the natural rhythms and patterns of theuniverse.
(1994:100) Taoism is profoundly practical and “this-worldly”. Unlike other mystics,who saw salvation as the separation of the individual from a ‘mattercorrupt’ world, the Taoist tendency is one of self and life affirmation. “The Taoist does not conquer life to win salvation but yields to the eternalreturn of thing” (Girardot 1983: 42). To be Taoist implies voluntaryidentification with the tradition and daily corporal engagement in a projectof self construction. This is conceived as a
return to origins
, to a state of spontaneity, fulfilment and vitality. Taoist techniques of the body may bedescribed as “arts of existence” or “techniques of the self” (Foucault1988:15). A Tao master or disciple, is a link in a dialogical andgenealogical chain, in which spatiotemporal narratives on the eternalsecrets of life and death, inscribed especially in living bodies, aretransmitted through martial arts, meditation, and traditional medicine(Neto, 3). Taoism epistemology conveys a very physical appreciation of the humanbody, conceived primarily through the universal balance of Yin and Yang.Although Yang is a predominantly male principle and Yin is prominent inwomen, neither of these principles exists in a pure form, and a balancedproportion of each has to be present in every functioning human being,creating, in fact, an androgynous consciousness. This interdependent