Find Your Truth – The Taoist Teaching of ‘Te’

Flickr - Tao - kevin dooleyDavid James Lees, Guest
Waking Times

The ancient Chinese Taoist concept of ‘Te’ (pronounced ‘day’) is one of the lesser known but nevertheless vital teachings of Taoist philosophy passed to me by my Masters in the sacred Wudang Mountains of China.

You may have encountered the word ‘Te’ when reading the classic Taoist texts the Tao Te Ching or the I Ching and there are many Western translations and interpretations of the word, the most common being virtue, moral excellence or integrity. The root meaning of the word ‘Te’ centres on the concept of ‘rising up’, ‘ascending’ or ‘climbing’ to your highest good and many passages and verses of these ancient scripts refer to a wise or enlightened individual of sound moral character.

For me ‘Te’ is about your personal beliefs and how they allow you to live to your highest spiritual potential. It’s about ensuring that your beliefs reflect your unique truth and highest possible integrity. Your beliefs should allow you to remain authentic, harmonious and balanced, no matter what challenges you encounter; they should be the vehicle that guides and propels you towards your true purpose.

The poetic verses of the ancient Taoist texts give clues as to the personal characteristics of ‘Te’ that an individual can possess and the qualities of humbleness, simplicity, letting go and trusting are often referred to either directly or indirectly.  These are a useful guide but many people wrongly identify these qualities as being necessary in order to be a ‘good’, ‘virtuous’ or ‘enlightened’ person. My teaching is this: if the qualities of humbleness, simplicity, letting go and trusting don’t intuitively feel right or important to you this doesn’t mean that you’re somehow not living to your ‘Te’; nor should you necessarily believe that if you are humble, self-sacrificing and trusting that you’re automatically operating within your ‘Te’ or to your fullest potential, as this too can be a misunderstanding.


I have clients who have spent much of their lives chasing an illusion of what it means to be a ‘good’ person: by being too humble, self-sacrificing or introverted; by thinking simplicity means denying themselves practical, emotional and spiritual support and abundance; by trusting everyone and everything without reservation or question. Rather than living within their Te’ they restrict their integrity and potential by following someone else’s guidance, expectations or demands, of what is ‘appropriate’, ‘virtuous’, ‘moral’ or ‘good’. They work hard to be ‘correct’ and yet they feel unhappy, unbalanced and unwell, and they don’t understand where they are going wrong.

The answer lies within the fact they are not living their ‘Te’ – they are not living their truth.

The important lesson here is that yourTe’ is not necessarily what your parents, partner, friends, neighbours or colleagues may consider to be ‘correct’, and it’s also not what your Ego or human-centred mind (as opposed to your spirit-centred mind) may boldly define as being ‘good’ or ‘virtuous’. Adopting without question these viewpoints and beliefs only blocks your thinking and potential, and this is why it’s so very important to find and operate your life by yourTe’ – your truth and no one else’s.

My ‘Te’ and spiritual potential isn’t necessarily your ‘Te’ and spiritual potential, and this is ok… actually this is fantastic! Why? …because we are each on our own personal journey, with our unique practical and spiritual lessons to learn, and our unique gifts to offer humanity and all those around us.

This is my teaching: Find your Te, own it, live it!

About the Author

David James Lees is a spirituality and wellness author, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, counsellor, hypnotherapist, NLP Master, and a Member of the British Acupuncture Council. David has a lifelong interest in Taoism, Taoist philosophy and Qigong, and was first taught meditation by Chinese Tibetan Buddhist monks when he was 16 years old, which helped him tackle a profound stutter. After qualifying as a TCM practitioner in the UK, David trained for a number of years as a Qigong instructor with Doctor Shen in London and Master Wan Su Jain in Beijing, and was later ordained as a Taoist Master in the sacred Wudang Mountains in China. Today, David is a trusted advisor and broadcaster on emotional health issues and alternative therapies in the UK. You can follow David on his blog: www.WuWeiWisdom.comFacebookTwitterPinterest and Soundcloud.  For the latest information on David’s therapies, classes, workshops and special events visit Peak House Practice.

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