Tao (Pinyin Dào ) is a metaphysical concept found in Taoism, Confucianism, and more often in ancient Chinese philosophy. The Chinese character translates as "way," "path," or "route,". In Taoism, the Tao was the origin of the whole universe. Taoists believe that the "myriad things", or everything in the universe from animals to materials to ideas, originally came from the Tao, and when something disappears, it's energy (or qi) goes back to the Tao to be absorbed and re-birthed in a different form.
The Tao is a cosmic force that can't be named or described, which is the natural harmony between all living things, and the way they all move together. Taoists thought that if someone "forgot themselves", and let go of intentions, they would be able to "move effortlessly" (wu wei, or "non-action"), and be in harmony with the Tao, like the animals, plants, and everything else. This harmony is the ultimate goal of Taoism.