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. **

Friday, 18 September 2009


It's surprisingly easy to go off track when trying to pursue a Taoist life. Recently I've found that I've veered off into one of the most common traps that Taoists face - engaging in Taoism as an intellectual exercise rather than living it. My post "Difficult questions" is a good example of this.

Chapter 56 of the Tao Te Ching reads...

Those who know don't talk.
Those who talk don't know.

Close your mouth,
block off your senses,
blunt your sharpness,
untie your knots,
soften your glare,
settle your dust.
This is the primal identity.

Be like the Tao.
It can't be approached or withdrawn from,
benefited or harmed,
honored or brought into disgrace.
It gives itself up continually.
That is why it endures.

TTC Ch. 56 (12)

...this is not just a warning about those who would preach their idea of the Tao, it is also a guide towards finding the Tao for yourself - and yes I do appreciate the irony of me writing about this!

Personally I've found I've been spending more time engaging in discussion about the implications and meanings of Taoism rather than just living it. It's strange how it creeps up on you - you think you're cruising in the zone only to suddenly realise that you left it a long time ago. Nobody said that it was supposed to be easy but it's surprising how quickly complacency can set in.

One of my favourite writers, William Martin, in his book "A path and a practice: Using Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching as a guide to an awakened spiritual life" sums the approach up really neatly with the question....

Are you living right now,
or are you thinking about living?


The Rambling Taoist said...

I don't think it's necessarily an either/or proposition. Writing about Taoism helps me focus on what's important in my life and living in Tao helps me as I write about it.

Now this is solely my opinion (which isn't worth much), but I think you're being too hard on yourself. Just go where the flow takes ya! : )

Woody said...

Thanks RT, but it's really the coming up with hypothetical problems, creating artificial structures, discussing the Tao just for the sake of it - that' where I'm going wrong.

Thanks for the thoughts


B. Griffin said...

I have found it one of the most difficult irony's to come to terms with that I have found (and unfound, repeatedly) a "way" in taoism that I want to share with all my family and friends, and it is almost impossible. It defy's words. It's like the Tao is just more primal that language, and language is inadequate. No matter how hard I try I can not "Explain" Taoism to them. Then there come times like you describe when you get stuck in the "thinking" and lose the "being."
I have seen at least one online Taoism community die, and became a part of another that turned out to be pretty stagnant, and I think it was on it's way to dying.
I try to live in the Tao, but sometimes it is lonely.

Nice Blog by the way. I pop in for a read from time to time. Thanks!

Woody said...

Thanks Brian.

I've got a friend who I think would really appreciate Taoism and I believe it would answer many of her "spritual" questions. I've been waiting for a natural opportunity to introduce her to it, but so far in 2 years there's never been a point when it would't have felt artificial and like I was peddling religion. It's very difficult following something that can't be explained or easily shared!