Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Grab this related post Widget!
Do you ever go back and read something that you enjoyed a long time ago? It’s interesting to do so because the book is the same but you are not. Time and experience have altered your perspective since the initial reading so that you’re seeing it now through new eyes. You may still love it or shake your head in disbelief that you have changed so much.

I’ve recently been re-exploring books I read some 35 years ago about Taoism. During that time I was an ardent “seeker,” and Eastern philosophy, particularly this one, resonated within me (and still does) at a deep level

Taoism is called “The Watercourse Way” because the non-resistant flow of water is analogous with its principles of being in tune with the world instead of aggressively attempting to impose one’s will. The first sentence of the Tao Te Ching, written by Lao Tzu over 2500 years ago provocatively states that “The Way that can be described is not the Way”—in other words, the complexity and perfection of the Universe is far beyond the feeble attempts of language and the human mind to understand.

Yin/yang, the mutual interdependence of opposites, is central to Taoist teaching and very difficult for Western minds to grasp. Here we believe in absolutes, like ending war and poverty, when in fact we can have no concept of peace without war or being rich without poverty

How would you know day(light) if the sun never gave way to nightfall? “Day” would just be what “is.” And that’s the whole point of Taoism—at the Universal level, everything just “is.” That thing growing out of the ground with bark, limbs, and leaves isn’t really a tree—it’s a manifestation of nature we call a “tree” so we can communicate about it. And so it goes with “bark, “limbs,” “leaves, “and “nature”---just words, not reality.

Intuitively we know this to be true just as we know there is more to us than the “meat suits” we wear around our whole lives. That’s what makes getting your arms around Taoism so elusive. It can never be formally taught or learned, for any effort to be effortless is immediately off the mark.

Re-reading my old books is encouraging. Looking back over my life I can see that I’m not as big of a knucklehead as in my youth, but I’m nowhere near being a sage either. But the cool thing about Taoism is this—accepting it can and does happen in an instant. It’s just that trying not to try is maddeningly difficult. .

1 comment:

Hunter said...

I think you've found my calling. After all, I already get paid to make water go downhill - but I never knew that there was a whole religion about it. It just makes sense to me, I think it's logical - it just "is", and I know that imposing my will on the water will only get me in trouble.

I think being a Taoist monk is less stressful than being an engineer, plus I like Tao Las Vegas. I don't see any issue with being a Taoist master - where do I apply?