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It can't be approached or withdrawn from,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?