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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