Welcome to The Path of Water

This site is dedicated to exploring the Tao and Philosophical Taoism; and how it relates to everyday modern life in the 21st Century. It also includes posts relating to how I feel Taoism can provide insights for dealing with the problems of everyday living.

The process of writing out my thoughts helps me to explore what I believe and why, so these posts will probably develop over time. I hope that you'll find this site interesting and, for those of you new to the Tao and Taoism, I hope that it can provide you with a first step on the path to a rich spiritual life. If you want to post comments relating to a post or the site as a whole I'd be grateful as all feedback is helpful.

Enjoy your visit - In Tao - Woody

Who would follow the Way must go beyond words.
Who would know the world must go beyond names. *

No man ever steps in the same river twice,
for it's not the same river and he's not the same man. **

Monday, 3 March 2008

Death, Immortality & the Soul

There's a bit of discussion regarding death and what, if anything, happens after. I thought I'd post my brief thoughts here as well...

My belief is that Death is not really a loss, but a transformation, and that what we knew as the person moves on to participate in an endless ever-changing dance of manifestation, existence and de-manifestation that is the Tao....

All things emerge from emptiness
All things flourish and dance in endless variation
All things dissolve back into perfect emptiness

..I don't claim to know any better than the next person, but from observing nature we see things conceived, born, growing, dieing, decaying and becoming source material for new life. It seems to me that the desire for some form of personal survival is a natural feature of the ego.

Fundamentally there is no you and I, this and that - all are part of the same single thing - The Tao. The Tao is the thing that is immortal and as a part of it, so are we, but I see nothing in nature to convince me that anything of my personal identity would survive after death, and indeed what use is that identity without the physical person? Nature doesn't retain things out of sentiment.

I can't remember where I read it (somewhere online) but somebody wrote that you already know what death is like. You have been dead (i.e. non-existent) for billions of years before life existed on Earth, or before you were conceived, and death is exactly like that. That seems reasonable to me.

I've tried to synthesize my thoughts into a few brief paragraphs, using the beliefs entry on the Reform Taoism site as a starting point, and this is the best I've come up with so far...

I believe that mortal existence is just one of the infinite number of manifestations of the Tao. Will we be reunited with our loved ones after mortal death? There is no way to know, so I believe that we should focus on the living of life, and not on speculation on what happens after.

I believe that we must learn to overcome the human instinct to view mortal death as bad and as the "ultimate end", and to rest comfortably knowing that what happens to us after mortal death is also part of the eternal process of the Tao. If we can learn to live in harmony with the Tao during our mortal lives, we will be in harmony with the Tao at the time of our mortal death. If we can manage that, then everything else will fall into place; that is the nature of the Tao.


Thomas said...

I just thought I would let you know that I find these to be very enlighten words about the balance of the Tao and that which we participate after this life. Great write up.

Woody said...

Thankyou Thomas - that's very kind