For my second trimester living color, I watched Kung Fu Panda 2. It was a fun cg animated film about a panda, Po, who through the power of friendship and inner peace, finds who what his place is in the world. The film follows Po as he travels all over China with his five friends, meeting powerful and wise allies, and willy, misguided foes. Shen, a peacock, is a prince of a Chinese city, and through a tragic backstory, now wants China to bend to him. Soon after, Po and the furious five are sent out to defeat this evil. However, Po is distracted and occupied with the fact that he just learned that he was adopted. He is brimming with questions about who he really is and what his place in the world is. This leads to epic battles over the peace of China between the two opposing forces - Po and Shen. Which side prevails in the end, well, you’ll just have to watch to find out!
There are several connections to daoism throughout the film. Throughout the entire movie, the advice of all the learned masters is to “not force it, but just let it flow.” In the beginning, Master Shi Fu advises Po to learn inner peace, for it is the only way he will be able to find himself and defeat evil. This connects to daoism because it is central in that religion that one must flow with the force of the universe. Rather than decisively acting upon something in life, daoists see that it is preferable to have passive action. This is what Po needs to do - just let if flow, and once you have peace, you’ll be able to understand. Daoists liken it to a river - a river doesn’t choose to run or forces itself to run - it just does. Just like the stream, one must be able to keep in touch with the universe and flow with it. To do this, daoists say to follow the Dao. The dao is the “road” or “way” of life. It is the way to one’s self, and it underlies all of nature - just what Po must do.
Wu Wei - As aforementioned, Po is to find inner peace. He is to do this through passive action - not to force it, but let it happen to him. When Po says that to become a better Kung Fu Master he wants to “get things done,” Master Shi Fu responds by teaching Po that the true path to becoming harmonious is inner peace. “Every master must find his path to inner peace.” One must be able to “harness the flow of the universe.” In addition, it is in Po’s very nature to Po’s nature is to “go with the flow” - he doesn’t really make plans, but rather relies on instinct to get him to where he wants. This is the very picture of the quintessential daoist
Dao - Throughout the movie, it is a big underlying theme that there is a “path” or “way” to the universe. This is also the core concept of Daoism. For example, when Shen tries to rebel against his fate, he only plays into the hands of the universe. The dao is inevitable.
Ying and Yang - In the beginning of the movie, Shen found a way to weaponize fireworks, which were supposed to be used for beauty and enjoyment. It is two sides of the same coin - or yin and yang.