I have come across a number of different philosophies, theologies and theocracies during my life which address the way we live and the purpose and meaning of our lives. Many of these ideologies have influenced me in a variety of ways but one philosophy/ideology that has really struck a chord in me is the notions and thoughts of Taoism. In all its incarnations, Taoism has come into contact with me in both in its infinite simplicity and its absolute difficulty. It is much more than just a philosophy of life, it is a philosophy of being.
One aspect of Taoism which is prone to confusion is its definition. Many religions teach a Philosophy/Dogma/Ideology which apprises the initiate about how to live. Taoism turns this completely around. It begins by formulating a fact; “The Tao” is indefinable. Taoism then teaches you that the definition you seek is actually inside yourself and is already known. Life should flow through a Taoist practitioner. Your heart will consistently point the way. Live your life without potentials, living in the present fully and absolutely. Discover who you are. Your essence is ever fluctuating and at the same time is always the same. Don’t try to decide the various inconsistencies in life, instead learn acceptance of your nature. The ying and the yang, the negative and the positive, are what we call life. Embrace them and you will fully understand what it means to be human. Accept that both good and evil are important aspects of the universe.
Keeping calm and going with the flow is hard sometimes. It’s much easier to resist. But what you resist often persists and how can a river really go against its flow? Taoism isn’t about total pacifism and surrender. It is more about accepting what is. Though I disagree with its lack of personal boundaries I can see the harmony that it preaches. When troubles arise, flow through them. As the Borg in Star Trek say (or was it Star Wars?) “Resistance is futile”. Flow through life, flow with being and flow with you. This is the harmony and all-embracing nature of the Tao.
I often listen to and read Alan Watts and Terrence McKenna. Their works on the Tao and its implications in everyday life have helped me a great deal. Watt’s satirical humor is a pleasure to receive as he talks about the intricacies that make up the key work of Taoism, the book “The Tao Te Ching”. It is a true gem of a book and if you get the chance you should read Lao Tzu’s greatest work. Its genius lies in its simplicity. It has a few key ideas but repeats them often. If you can find some quiet time and read, read, read. You may learn something. I certainly did. But I can’t explain what I learned in words; and that’s the true beauty of the Tao. It is more than just a book, it’s a work of art. It is like staring at a Rembrandt or a Dali, the more you examine, the more you see, until you realize with a shock that you actually see nothing at all.
“Do the Tao today by noticing an opportunity to defend or explain yourself and choosing not to. Instead, turn within and sense the texture of misunderstanding, feeling it all the way through your physical system. Just be with what is, instead of opting to ease it by traversing the outer-world path of explaining and defending. Don’t get caught up in the apparent duality of being right or wrong. Congratulate yourself for making a choice to be in paradoxical unity, a oneness where all of the spectrum simply is. Silently appreciate the opportunity, along with your willingness to practice your sageness!” — Dr. Wayne Dyer