Taoism’s Aimlessness vs Western Goals and Success

The general mindset of the West is to strive for socially manufactured goals and to try and achieve them according what society determines is successful. The Western social model of goals and success is incorrectly assumed to be a universal way of thinking. As a result, this type of mindset is then superimposed onto foreign ideas, such as spiritual enlightenment in the East. But to attain enlightenment one has to overcome goal orientation and essentially stop striving and give up the search. This Eastern perspective is best explained by the essential teaching of wu-wei in Taoism. In the Tao Te Ching and the Zhuangzi there is no consideration of goals, but rather a focus on aimlessness as a method for creating healthy and sane individuals. Having goals, according to Taoism, is a blind alley that can lead to all sorts of psychological problems and social unrest. In this episode of Ask Jason, I will answer a question about whether or not a goal oriented focus can fit into the art of wu-wei (effortless living/non-doing/non-interference) and whether or not we should have a goal or goals in life and on the spiritual path.

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