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. **

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

The benefits of following Taoism

So to paraphrase the song, "Taoism! What is it good for?"

Well here's my take on it. I came to Taoism partly as a rejection of other belief systems that I had encountered. So many times religions encourage us to stop thinking, distrust the evidence of experience, and instead use "faith." Something like..."So you think the sky looks blue? Our holy book say it is green. Have faith and trust that it is green and it is just an evil spirit that is making you think it is blue!" There also tends to be reliance on teachers, priests, gurus or saints who hold some deep hidden knowledge which they "interpret" for the masses, but which the "masses" are for some reason unable to see directly for themselves. For me it all smacks of fraud and deception.

Taoism on the other hand encourages us to seek our own experience and develop our own understanding. Through the observation and direct experience of nature we find a way to live a life true to who and what we are, but not one that suppresses another's chance to do the same and reach their own understanding. Something like "You think the sky is blue? Then for you it is blue, but maybe for somebody else it might look green." As Taoism is not telling us how things are it encounters no conflict with advances in scientific understanding.

Taoism is free of things such as guilt and shame which IMHO never have a positive influence on human behaviour. If you believe that you are shameful or guilty just through being alive, what sort of person are you likely to become? I believe these are just tools used by some religions as a means of control.

Taoism is a path of peace. Whilst violence is not precluded in Taoism, the self-awareness that is developed in following the path reduces the influence of the ego which I believe is at the root of most conflict. For most Taoists resorting to violence is a final step reserved for the most extreme situations and for the protection of those that are unable to protect themselves.

Taoism also equips Taoists with tools which help them live their lives, understand events and develop the perspective which helps to avoids the extremes of living where so many problems are found. Taoism is also a rejection of intolerance and hatred of difference, and variety is part of the joy of existence. Balance, harmony, perspective, compassion - all of these are at the heart of Taoism and lead to IMHO an enhanced life experience.

Taoism also helps us to understand our place in existence, neither deluding ourselves about how important we are, nor undermining our relevance or diminishing our place in nature. Learning to really know who we are gives us the ability to make the most of our lives without wasting time pursuing illusions.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting thoughts.

The Crow said...

Well put.
Guilt and shame, I think, do have a place, as a way for society to be able to function.
A hermit has no use for these things, but taboo behaviours are not good for societies.
Violence: one of my biggest stumbling blocks, and yes: ego is likely the root of it, although not always.
I am never violent towards anything, in the absence of people. Which sounds absurd. But is quite true.