I don't know if my question belongs here or not. In the movie American Beauty, the message is that real beauty lies beneath the surface of things and you have to look deeper. A nice home in the suburbs and attractive girls aren't real beauty

Ricky sees real beauty in dead birds, a plastic bag, etc. Lester sees real beauty at the end when he realizes the girl he wants to sleep with is a virgin

When Ricky mentions seeing this incredibly benevolent force that wanted him to know there was no reason to ever be afraid while watching the plastic bag, is this a reference to the Tao? Does Taoism also teach that the key to happiness and having no fear to accept the flow of life, even the bad things that happen to you (for ex. Lester being a doormat/loser at the beginning, or Ricky taking beatings from his father), and to recognize it as beauty?

1 Answer 1


I'm no expert or religious scholar. My limited background is reading Stephan Mitchell's translation of the Tao te ching (not for class) + two philosophy of religion classes.

With Ricky, the true tao is the tao that cannot be spoken. I agree, his fascination with tapes seems to focus on capturing a force beyond words.

To add to your points, Lester seems to connect with what is described in the tao as Wu Wei (effortless action or doing not doing). In Lester's case, living without dieing.

Here are some more paradoxes: Happy family or hostel family Lester's burning desire yields to contentment?

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