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. **

Thursday, 21 August 2008


Nice cheery subject, I know, but I've seen a few posts on forums over the years discussing how to arrange a funeral service for a philosophical Taoist. I saw another the other day and it got me thinking about how I might want it done given that most probable attendees might not even really know anything about Philosophical Taoism or even Taoism in general.

I was also looking for some structure which would not be completely unfamiliar to the attendees, but which would be true to my beliefs. It's not going to matter to the deceased whatever happens but ritual is a useful mechanism to help the mourners cope.

Whatever...this is what I came up with as a possible structure for such a service. It's envisaged that one or more people would handle the officiating (speaker) role and my personal request would be that all attendees wear brightly coloured clothing - just to brighten things up!

Any opinions and/or suggestions gratefully received.

Philosophical Taoist Funeral Ceremony

Welcome & thank you for coming to this ceremony to mark the passing of ..insert-deceased's-name.. .

..insert-deceased's-name.. was a Philosophical Taoist. The concept of Tao is the Taoists most deeply held belief, and the Chinese word "Tao" roughly translates as "Way". Lao-tse, the ancient Chinese philosopher widely regarded as the founder of Taoism, taught that the Tao simply defies description and that the only true way to seek it is through personal spiritual exploration and dedication.

The Tao is difficult to explain but amongst other things it is conceived as the fundamental non-sentient, impersonal basis of reality. The Tao can be seen behind the natural processes and balance of the Universe and all things in the Universe, while seeming separate and distinct, are actually just aspects of the Tao.

Philosophical Taoists believe that Death is not a loss, but a transformation, and that what we knew as ..insert-deceased's-name.. has now moved on to participate in the endless dance of manifestation and change that is the Tao. While it is natural to feel sorrow at ..insert-deceased's-name.. passing, it is important to balance this sorrow with our memories of the life ..insert-deceased's-name.. lived, our times together, and the love and friendship that we shared.

<...insert short obituary for the deceased, hopefully with a story or two of happy experiences & giving personal idea of deceased's personality...>

Philosophical Taoists do not have Gods or prayers or hymns, but they do follow the teachings of Lao-tze's book called "The Tao Te Ching", which he wrote over 2500 years ago. The Tao Te ching is not a Holy Book like the Bible or Koran, but rather is a guidebook on how one can live in harmony with the universe. I'd like to read you just an excerpt, adapted from a translation by Jonathan Star...

Become totally empty
Quiet the restlessness of the mind

Only then will you see that all things emerge from emptiness

Only then will you see that all things flourish and dance in endless variation

Only then will you see that all things dissolve back into perfect emptiness
Emerging, Flourishing, Dissolving back again - This is the eternal process of Nature

Be still

With stillness is revealed eternity

With Eternity is revealed a vision of oneness

With a vision of oneness is revealed universal love

With Universal love is revealed the great truth of Nature

The great truth of Nature is the Tao

Whoever knows this truth lives forever

The body may perish and deeds may be forgotten
but he who has the Tao has all eternity

Now can we all take a minute of silence to consider our own memories of ..insert-deceased's-name..

This was ..insert-deceased's-name.. favourite ..music/reading/etc....

<...Play music/read etc... while coffin is buried or curtains close for cremation or coffin buried...>


Sherry said...

Thank you for your wonderful post and I love that translation. After many years of searching and studying, I consider myself a philosophical Taoist. I am now on my way to my grandma's funeral and it is at these times that I long for some ritual to ease the pain. My Christian family simply does not understand my beliefs. This translation brings me much piece and I believe, will get me through this tough day.

Woody said...

Thanks Sherry. I'm sorry for your loss and I hope the day goes well.

Best regards,