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. **

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Change seems to be the word of the moment. With Barack Obama's election in the US, with chaos in financial markets, with the change in direction of economies. How should we deal with change?

Personally, I've reached one of those points where you wonder which direction you should go next. There's a debate in the Reform Taoist community about how we progress in the future - whether we continue the way we have been going or try a new direction. The question for me is "Is my journey best served by trying to fight for change within the organisation, or would it be better for those of us that want change to form a new community that reflects our needs at this time?"

I've been reading around looking for inspiration and I found some in Deng Ming-Dao's book Everyday Tao. He talks about the early observers of Tao, and how they found it by observing the world around them, seeing things born, grow and wither. He uses the image of a man running down a path to describe Tao. This movement and change is at the heart of the Tao, although of course stillness and stagnation are also there. It is in the movement and change that we see the vitality of the Tao. It got me thinking that if Reform Taoism has stagnated from my perspective, perhaps starting a new community where members were more able to express themselves and develop would be the "running man" path.

Any change is a step into the unknown - it's easier and safer to go with the status-quo. If you change, you might fail so maybe it's better to leave things as they are. But does this truly lead to a fulfilling journey through life though? If I'm asking the question, maybe the decision is already made? Is it possible to return to acceptance? I think you can see where this is leading me, but I've not completely decided so watch this space!

On the wider front, what does Taoism teach us about dealing with change? Change is inevitable. It can be held at bay for a time through effort, but it can never be stopped. In following Taoism we try to experience and understand our true inner nature. Using the analogy of water (well the clue's in the name of the Blog!) if we are in a river we can cling for as long as we can to the sides before our strength fails and we are swept helplessly downstream by the current. Or, through self-knowledge and self-confidence, we can embrace the flow of the river, let the current take us, and use our strength and skill at appropriate moments to avoid any rocks in our path. The latter is the Taoist way, but be warned! It can be scary.


The Rambling Taoist said...

I agree that change is scary -- particularly for someone like me with Asperger's. However, as you aptly point out, it is the way of the river and the symbol of water is central to Taoist thought.

I think the tricky part is allowing the river to flow of its own accord. Sometimes we try to hold it back and, at other times, we try to channel it to flow where it doesn't want to flow.

Woody said...

I find the hardest part is the letting go in the first place. It's easy to get into a cycle of "but what if I'm wrong, maybe I'll wait just a little bit longer..." :-)

donna said...

Everyday Tao really started my Tao journey. My entire blog is now based on dealing with change.

Woody said...

Further to this post I came to the conclusion that I was trying to force something to be other than it naturally is - a common mistake for Taoists - and so I decided to let go and see what happened.

Gary said...

Remember that FEAR is False Emotions Appearing Real. Overcome fear by being aware of what you are feeling and owning the feeling.