Becoming One With The Tao

After 26 years, I’ve real­ized that I’m a Taoist.

I dab­bled in Existentialism (after read­ing Huis Clos, revis­it­ing it when read­ing Thus Spoke Zarathustra), athe­ism (when I was dat­ing an Anglican), agnos­ti­cism (after we broke up), Nihilism (while read­ing sev­er­al books of Russian Romantic lit­er­a­ture), Buddhism (in ear­ly uni­ver­si­ty), and Christianity (through­out my life). None of it ever felt com­plete.

In 2003, I hap­pened to come across a few vers­es of the Tao Te Ching. The con­cepts were dif­fi­cult to grasp at first1. Eventually, with the guid­ance of some Chinese elders, I came to a sol­id foun­da­tion of under­stand­ing, then approached it slow­ly and care­ful­ly. I had put so much hope in find­ing a sys­tem of beliefs in the past, that I was scared of hur­ried­ly align­ing myself with the first one that bared a pass­ing resem­blance to my own.

More specif­i­cal­ly, I’m a philo­soph­i­cal Taoist. I don’t believe in any poly­the­is­tic aspects of the reli­gious side, the div­ina­tion of the I Ching, or any of the archa­ic sex­u­al prac­tices of ret­ro­grade ejac­u­la­tion and the like.

This does­n’t mean that I’m a per­fect Taoist, inso­far as there are no per­fect Christians, or per­fect peo­ple. The Tao Te Ching is my bible. It guides me on how to live and behave as much as it is a label of my exist­ing beliefs. There are things I have yet to learn, apply, or both.

I think I’ve always been a Taoist. I just nev­er knew it. For as long as I can remem­ber, I’ve lived by the prin­ci­ples of bal­ance, empti­ness (or recep­tive­ness), and strength of flex­i­bil­i­ty. I’m glad that it’s a part of the cul­ture of my blood. It makes me proud. Understanding Cantonese has cer­tain­ly helped me appre­ci­ate the beau­ty of it all.

One does­n’t decide to become a Taoist. The Way is described as hav­ing no begin­ning or end. You must become one with it.

As such, a trav­el­er is at his des­ti­na­tion at every part of the jour­ney.

  1. I’ve come to see that the ideas are eas­i­ly lost in trans­la­tion []

7 comments

  1. I always believed that Taoism is the orig­i­nal inten­tion of Buddha.

  2. > athe­ism (when I was dat­ing an Anglican), agnos­ti­cism (after we broke up)
    lol, that speaks loads in brief of the rela­tion­ship

    I dab­bled with read­ing I Ching and Tae Te Ching as a teen. I did­n’t get it then. Might be worth a cir­cuit back.

  3. @Causalien — That’s an inter­est­ing idea. I don’t know enough about Buddhism or the his­to­ry to make a com­par­i­son. I’m sure there are many sim­i­lar­i­ties, but I think Buddhism is more of a reli­gion. The paint­ing of the Three Vinegar Tasters is sup­posed to demon­strate the fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ences.

    @Pearl — I know, I can be some­what flip­pant in my rela­tion­ships. Perhaps I push a girl into push­ing me back. Sometimes that what it takes to grow. Of course, it takes the right type of girl.

    I def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend anoth­er read­ing of the Tao Te Ching. It took me quite a while to under­stand it, but it comes with more expe­ri­ence and wis­dom.

  4. I was busy just doing ran­dom search­es on Taoism on Google and came across this post.

    What you said about feel­ing like you’ve always felt like you’re a Taoist real­ly caught my atten­tion. Since last year I’ve been feel­ing an urge to become one with Tao. There was no major inci­dent that real­ly caused this urge, but I also believe I’m “called” to be a Taoist, if I can put it that way.

    One prob­lem I’m encoun­ter­ing is that I don’t real­ly know where to start. I recent­ly man­aged to get a copy of the Tao Te Ching,though I haven’t read through it yet. Also, I don’t know any­one who can give me advice on Taoism, as my fam­i­ly would prob­a­bly freak out (i’m only 19). If you know any oth­er good texts on Toaism please let me know.

    • Hey Alex, just keep in mind that actu­al­ly try­ing to be one with the Tao is usu­al­ly fruit­less. To be one with the Tao you just have to be one with the Tao. By try­ing, you’re already fail­ing, because try­ing implies that you’re aware of the effort, where­as being one with the Tao is effort­less. That’s why most peo­ple who are Taoists don’t even know they are, or even what Taoism is. Paradoxical, I know, and it’s some­thing I’m still strug­gling with.

      I’d rec­om­mend a copy of The Tao of Pooh, because that real­ly helped clar­i­fy the con­cepts for me, and explained them from a west­ern view (through Winnie the Pooh). Also, watch Zorba the Greek…I’d con­sid­er him a Taoist cause he’s spon­ta­neous, free, and full of hap­pi­ness what­ev­er comes his way.

      • Thank you very much for your reply.

        As said in the Tao Te Ching:
        “The essence of Tao is deep and unfath­omable,
        yet it may be known by not try­ing to know.”

        It is a real­ly dif­fi­cult con­cept to grasp, but I will try under­stand­ing it with­out mak­ing an effort to.

        I’ll check out the ref­er­ences you gave in your pre­vi­ous com­ment. Thanks again for your time.

  5. Alexander,
    You can down­load the audio book of Stephen Mithchell, as well as his oth­er book: the sec­ond book of the Tao. Takes a lit­tle search­ing but you’ll find it, it;s so worth it! Whenever I find the pos­si­bil­i­ty, I lis­ten to the Tao Te Ching. Been lis­ten­ing to it every day late­ly.
    As for oth­er sto­ries, I feel that Dragon Ball (and DBZ) have great wis­dom because also Goku is open, spon­tan­u­ous, receiv­ing, good, inno­cent…

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