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, 15 October 2009

Taoism, Christmas and Ta Chiu

At Christmas time in Western countries it can be difficult for those of other or no faiths. Do you join in with the seasonal celebrations ignoring the Christian message, do you ignore it, or do you link it to celebrating a festival of your own at this time of year?

While as a Taoist its good to experience and enjoy whatever is happening without loading it with value judgements, it can also be nice to feel that you've got a celebration that is in some way "your own." In this light, over at the Reform Taoist Congregation there's been the suggestion that the Hong Kong Taoist festival of Ta Chiu be celebrated in this holiday period.

Taking place on 27th December, Ta Chiu is heavily tied into "religious" Taoism and its practices. I believe the pronunciation is Ta = like Tar but without the "r" sound at the end, Chiu = joo. Here's the description from cultureandrecreation.gov.au....

Ta Chiu is a Taoist festival of peace and renewal that takes place on 27 December in Hong Kong. The participants summon all of their gods and ghosts so that the gods' collective power will renew their lives. At the end of the festival, priests read aloud the names of every person who lives in the area. Then they attach the list of names to a paper horse and set it aflame, letting the names rise to heaven.

 Now the actual practice seems very alien and ritual heavy to a philosophical Taoist, but if you're looking for something Taoist to celebrate around the same time, or if you want to respond to those who wish you a "Happy Xmas" with a Taoist response, this might do the job for you. You don't have to conform to the "religious" parts, just the spirit of "peace & renewal." I that light you can take the basic theme and have any rituals, foods, cards, activities etc that mean "peace & renewal" to you. For me it conjours up images of nature and change. YMMV


The Rambling Taoist said...

You know, I don't celebrate Christmas or any other holiday I can think of. I simply celebrate each day for what it is.

Other members of my family DO celebrate the major holidays, if only to honor tradition. So, I call them to wish them "Happy (Whatever) Day". But, for me, this year's December 25th will be a typical Friday...except for the fact I won't be able to do any shopping because all the stores will be closed. :(

Green Monk said...

I myself am not a big one on holidays-the commercial aspect and all that. It would be interesting to see this fleshed out a bit-How would you celebrate Ta Chiu as a Reform Taoist? How could you adapt the ritual?

Woody said...

I think it's more about finding what speaks to you. From the RT perspective it's about having a time when many members do something in common rather than concentrating on the details - it's not like most members buy into the "religious side of the festival.

Personally I like the family/community aspect of festivals. My family do have gift giving but only token small ones & we'd agree about the commercialism.

Fay's Too said...

I don't do holidays so much, but of course it surrounds me. I try not to resent it because that doesn't make sense.
I also celebrate happy ______ day. In fact, happy moment by moment.
The Universal Pantheist Society Ning site has been discussing this issue. Check it out if you'd like.

Lesa McMahon said...

keep blogging... your words matter

Steve P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve P said...

John Blofeld talked about how the Chinese could quite easily take part in Taoist,Confucian and Buddhist ceremonies.
Not to miss out on anything !!

An analogy for me is music.
I couldn't think of just listening to one type or style.
The best of jazz, folk, classical, pop, rock etc is always inspiring.
Listening to one style would not be very open approach.

So the Christmas shared meal, presents for the children, Singing carols at the Amnesty Christmas concert in a snowy church this year, are all uplifting ( or can be ! )

Being an eclectic it all seems to be part of humanities heritage and if it's good join in, if not leave it alone.
Happy Ta Chiu and Seasons Greetings.
The blood in our veins is neither Taoist or Christian