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, 5 July 2011

Taoism in action

In my opinion Taoism is pretty pointless if it can't improve our experience of life (other belief systems take note!). I find that it's becoming increasingly important in my life, and frustration, unhappiness, anger, boredom etc.... only arise when I'm not using it. I wrote the following in response to a question on the Reform Taoist site about practical examples of using Taoism.

A good example came up on Saturday. I was due to play as the lead musician for our Morris Dancing side. Without boring you with the details, this is far more demanding than just performing in public because there's lots of things that you need to concentrate on and lots of distractions. You're also responsible for the whole dance and the playing of the rest of the band. Add to this that we were in the company of other sides, so if I c*cked it up it would certainly be noticed. In the past this pressure of being lead musician for public performances has got to me a bit and despite extensive practice I've never done that well - mainly just about scraping by. I've found the whole thing unpleasant - only really happy once it's over. As you can imagine, I was dreading this event.

I started re-reading Bill Martin's "Path and a Practice". I thought to myself "This is stupid! I'm a Taoist. I know what's going on - it's the "carving" not the "block" - I just need to address it."

I was reading a bit where it's looking at the TTC Chapter 9. Martin's version reads...

This is a path of letting go
so there will be room to live

If we hold on to opinions
our minds will become dull & useless
Let go of opinions

If we hold on to possessions
we will always be at risk
Let go of possessions

If we hold on to ego
we will continue to suffer
Let go of ego

Working without thought of praise or blame
is the way of true contentment

...and I got it!

I was holding on to opinions - mine, other people's, and most of all what I imagined that other people might think.
I was holding on to possessions - my position as lead musician and status in the side.
I was holding on to ego - my sense of self, self-worth, position, status, place, sense of importance
I was playing with thought of both praise & blame - part imagining a future where everybody says "Hey! You were great!" and part imagining one where everybody says "Hey! You were sh*te" - wrapping it all into a tapestry with memories of past successes and failures.

All of this is natural enough ego-led stuff. You just need to accept and understand that it's the natural chattering of the ego and put it into perspective, understanding that it's not reality. Then you can just let it all go.

So that's what I did..... And I had a really good time - enjoying ever minute of the whole days worth of events.

Sounds easy - but it's not. Maintaining harmony for long against the hyperactive neurotic attention seeking toddler that is the ego is very hard - a lifelong project. But it's worth it because in those moments when you hit it - oh boy!


Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you for your lovely blog. I came upon it by happy accident and have really enjoyed it. It's been so useful to me in my life and I always look forward to your next entries. Thanks again and good luck with your endeavors.

Tao1776 said...

It is difficult. We just can't help ourselves sometimes. We tend to grasp at things as a natural reaction, don't we? I remember playing eight-ball for fun and relaxation. Miraculous bank shots! Running the table! The mind did not think of winning or losing - it was playing for play's sake. That is all. Then someone would want to play for money - the game shifted to a desire to win - and the playing stopped. Always played my worst games. - And this is only one small example of how I can relate to your post....so, Hey Dude! LOL. Keep on!

water said...

Your idea was useful by Revathi

Woody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Woody said...

Hi everybody & thanks for the posts.

Tao1776: I used to play eight ball and had exactly the same experience when playing in competition. However I also found that when I was in an apparently hopeless situation and I stopped worrying about winning I could pull off the most amazing recoveries. It just goes to show how much the "carving" of the block influences what we can achieve. If you can roll back to the "uncarved" state we surprise ourselves ;-)

Ak Malten said...

Hi Woody,
Zen in action is similar. Practise Zen in the form of living your everyday life. We call it Samu. It is in this time taught by Thich Nhat Hanh. It might be good to add him to your Zen reading list.


Woody said...

Hi Ak,

the more I go down this path the more I realise that Zen and Taoism are just variations on a theme. Not really surprising if Zen's origins lie in the fusion of Buddhism and Taoism as many believe. In any case it shows that there's more than one path to the truth ;-)

Thanks for the book recommendation - I'll add him to my reading list. I only put links to books I've read so he may not appear on the list for a while!



krumbull said...

Hello Woody,
I'm enjoying reading your blog. I'm trying to find online discussions on practicing Taoism in life. I found the Chuang Tzu about 12 yrs ago and experienced enormous peace and validation. It's gentle emphasis on passive thinking as opposed to the obsessive pursuit of 'certainty' was instantly identifiable. It is not something I can share w friends or workmates but even reading your posts opens the view for me again. Was trying to find Taoism conferences or meet-ups here in Ireland but to no avail.

Woody said...

Hi Krumbull

I'm glad my missives are of some use. It can be difficult given the low density of philosophical Taoists in Western Europe. You might find some common ground with Zennies and Pantheists but to be honest Taoism is such a personal path you might not even find that much common ground between two Taoists! ;-)

You could try organising something yourself through www.meetup.com - otherwise there are a few online communities of different flavours.