Posted by: darien7743 | July 31, 2016

Taoism 101.01.01.01…….And,

The Tao never does what I expect it to when I expect it to. Probably because I expect it to. It teaches me that whatever I clutch, attach myself to and grasp will always be the thing that leads to my frustration, confusion and sense of guilt or failure. Let it go, experience what is in front of me, especially the emotions, and allow for the action that responds to it all with gentleness and fluidity. Gentleness and forgiveness for all, including myself should be cultivated. Then continue. At that point I will have done my best and guilt, lack of resolution and self deception disappear. Life is as it should be then. An experience, not a battlefield to overcome what I dislike. Life is quite simply, life. It took me many years to discover that I was a Taoist. Once found, recognizing it was like taking the first drink of water on a sweltering day. Letting go and allowing the Tao……..now that’s not easy peasy, at all. I fight it. What’s new? It is my cultural heritage to “win the good fight.” What else can I know? How else can it be? When I ask these questions I must return to The Tao.

Some people have heard of Taoism as in Zen Buddhism. Taoism precedes Zen and is an ancient way of life and being. It has taken many forms over the centuries. But, pure Taoism is a philosophy, not a religion and not an exercise in esoteric mysticism. Although Taoism may seem to be obscure, that is because we have learned to complicate everything, particularly in the west. Much of Taoism is simply what we learned in kindergarten. Be polite and kind, listen for direction, think before you act, share what you have with those who have not, and no one is better or more deserving than anyone else.

What’s the  real Tao, and where did it come from? Pronounced “Dow” ironically, as in the Dow stock exchange. It’s the Chinese word for a very, very old philosophy, “Taoism.” It appears to have begun as  a simple book of 81 small chapters or 5,000 characters which has been translated more times than any other book except the Bible. It is often attributed to a single person, Lao Tzu, but was probably written by several saged individuals, 2,500 years ago. The book is called the “Tao Te Ching,” pronounced, “Dow De Jing.” The name is difficult to translate but means, in general, the way of, and, to, or, life. One word? The Path……. leading to simplicity and contentment. There are a gazillion translations of ancient Chinese pictographs that scholars disagree on in several places. Hence, multiple translations with lots of independent spin. And that is only the beginning. What was intended to be a simple and direct experience of life, can be a convoluted, curious and wondrous experience of the world one moment and anything but, the next. It’s slippery but absolute, ephemeral and concrete, gentle and strong. Confused? Welcome to life. Once you have found a translation that speaks to you, it is easy to read and understand…..yet each time you read it, it seems to evolve into the next phase of understanding  you need to recognize.

My favorite phrase describing someone like me in a situation such as this is “Baby Bigginger.”  Very unsophisticated. Highly inaccurate. Were I as wise as an infant I would see the world as it naturally is. I would not be looking at it through years of cultural misinformation, familial traditions and educated ignorance. I would see what was there without filtering it through assumption, ideology, and a staid ego. Having said that, my “conditioned mind,” as the Taoist author, William Martin, calls it, wouldn’t be blocking my view. I would have the ability to see situations and events in their proper perspective. Life would be a whole lot less complicated. I would be a lot less reactive. And I would probably be much less afraid of where life was headed than I am at the moment. Can one be Happy and be afraid in the same moment? There is a subtle form of fear lurking just under the surface of my thinking. Maybe I should call it, Self-terrorism. It’s a pandemic today. I am not alone.

No one ever graduates from the Taoist school of thinking. Once you realize that it’s part of who you are, you are on the road to discovery. You,……are on that road. Others aren’t……It’s the road of unlearning and relearning life. It’s the way I learn to see and think, without thinking. Nothing is haphazard. Twisting and winding with hairpin turns and roundabouts, the Taoist path is the straightest way to find home…………..Does that mean that when I have finally stumbled on this way of life that I will become a sage?

Good Luck!……………The only true Sage is the fictional one found composed, smiling and confident in the, “Lieh Tzu,” or thumbing his nose at life in the,” Chuang Tzu.” Two famous Taoist writers well worth reading.  Even the story of, Lao Tzu, doesn’t contend that he is a sage. Just a wise man getting ,”The H out of Dodge!” meeting a guard  on the road and being required to write down the way he sees life, before he is allowed to pass and continue on his way. Confused? You’re on the right track. That is the intention of those writers. One can’t think themselves into Sagehood………… Saginess, (not sagginess,) is a quality gained as we begin to experience the world without filters and respond with grace, dignity and wisdom to what’s happening around us……….So far the world doesn’t have a good batting average………Instead of wisdom and consideration, international human response is mostly, anger.

Anger doesn’t suit most situations. It extrapolates them……….I learned what that truly means, at least for a beginner, via The Tao. You don’t defuse something by pouring acidic thoughts into the atmosphere.  But we do just that, all the time.  And we know it. No matter what the size, scale or implication, if it’s an uncomfortable situation, fear enters the arena and all is lost. We sizzle and seeth even if it’s under the surface. That’s our training.

Is anger illegitimate? No. It’s there to teach us something greater than we realize. I seldom learn that lesson. But at least I know the place to look for the answer when I stop long enough to listen. Anger teaches us that there is a tremendous amount of pain present. Pain of that level produces acute and chronic suffering. Acute suffering increases exponentially. It produces an angry world. That World is now our world.

Let’s look at it. Now…….Let’s listen to the fear and pain pouring out of a sea of international atrocities. Let’s look at the people behind the anger, ours and theirs, and see if we can find a way, a means to touch that pain and restrict the venom flowing from it. It would be wise to find a way of easing it and redirecting the energy it produces. Let’s find the authorities behind the “causes,” and search out our common ground and our antagonisms. They too are frightened.

All suffering is caused by fear. Pain is inevitable in life. Suffering comes from a choice of behavior before the suffering of anyone begins.

Often the enemy we see standing in front of our fear has suffered decades of personal abuse and violation. Destroying them only increases anxiety and suffering somewhere, either here or there. What results?  An increase in the numbers of those who follow even more aggressively. Escalation of atrocities.

Some of us have had similar experiences of individual suffering, but do we understand even a fraction of their pain?  Our lives and families have been disrupted often in horrendous ways. Frequently it has been the loss or the disfigurement of a loved one. “They,” live with a daily expectation of their entire family being devastated. We do not greatly fear all out war on US soil. The “other’s,” know nothing but all out war on theirs.

The tragic and devastating events on our soil have only given us a small taste of what others are experiencing on a daily basis. No wonder they fight. War doesn’t work. It never has and it never will under any circumstances. There are alternatives and we can find them if we look in another direction. The US prides itself on the ability to lead. Leaders are intended to dedicate themselves to the well being of all under their care. It seldom happens but that doesn’t mean that it can’t. We have the individual ability to begin the change. While we are mastering our change we can practice it in the world beyond our home.

Change, all change makes a difference. Remember the adage of the Butterfly flapping it’s wings across the world. It can produce an effect that results in a hurricane elsewhere.

Perhaps it would be wise to give this a try in our daily as well as international lives. We might discover the way to  a peaceful existence for us all. Won’t it be wonderful when war is obsolete!

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