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