29 7/12: The Taoist

I got these tat­toos to remind myself to stay on the path. A reminder like this is some­thing of a para­dox; to be on the path is to be unaware of the path.

Even though I strong­ly believed in the tenets of Taoism, I still found myself off the path more often than on it. There was a point where I began to ques­tion whether I was tru­ly a Taoist or just a Tao-enthu­si­ast, because my under­stand­ing of the ideas did­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean an abil­i­ty to apply them to my life.

Self portrait at 29 7/12


But over time, I for­got about my tat­toos. Or, should I say, I stopped think­ing about them, the way one may be so accus­tomed to the nose on one’s face as to nev­er dwell on the idea of it’s exis­tence.

In the same way, I’ve for­got­ten about the path too, even though I know I’m on it. I don’t seek coun­cil from the Tao Te Ching nowa­days, because there’s noth­ing left that I don’t under­stand. I found the feel­ing of seren­i­ty I’d been seek­ing for so long.

I turn 30 in five months, and I final­ly believe I’m a Taoist.

The Turning 30 Series


  1. (…) because there’s noth­ing left that I don’t under­stand.” Wow, real­ly? I sure hope I don’t under­stand every­thing when I’ll be close to my thir­ties…

    And I don’t know much or enough about Taoism. I think I’ll have to read a bit more about it

    • I should explain that “under­stand­ing every­thing” also implies the belief that there are things I’ll nev­er under­stand. In oth­er words, I know there are many things in the uni­verse beyond com­pre­hen­sion, even­tu­al or oth­er­wise. Taoism is full of para­dox­es like that.

      I can under­stand that it sounds scary to have no more mys­ter­ies in life left, but I believe in the con­trary; that life will always be full of mys­ter­ies. It’s in this way that I under­stand them, and tru­ly believ­ing this has freed me.

      • It not only sounds scary it sounds bor­ing too. I belief that life will be filled with mys­ter­ies too and I think I know what you are say­ing there. Understanding you can’t under­stand it all frees you, right? If so, I might real­ly have to read more about Tao, because it might real­ly suit me.


  2. Wow! I don’t real­ly know how i came to this blog, but yes­ter­day
    I was exact­ly think­ing about if doing or not a Tao tatoo.

  3. Sorry I’m a bit late on com­ment­ing.

    That’s the beau­ti­ful of the philo­soph­i­cal Tao isn’t it? I think it’s one of those things once you real­ize the essence of it, you don’t need to over think it, oth­er­wise it’d be rather para­dox­i­cal to its teach­ing. That’s the same rea­son why I stopped writ­ing about Tao on my blog.

    I find Tao phi­los­o­phy com­fort­ing, because it has made me to see things clear­ly for what they are. It’s not some­thing I con­scious­ly think about, there­fore I’m hes­i­tant to call myself a Taoist.

    • Actually, I think the fact that you don’t con­scious­ly think about it makes you more of a Taoist. I find true Taoists (who are very rare indeed) don’t even know about the phi­los­o­phy. Look at Winnie the Pooh, and Zorba the Greek.

    • Ah, have you ever read The Tao of Pooh? It real­ly helped refine my ideas and under­stand­ing of Taoism. It’s sup­posed to be the best expla­na­tion of Eastern ideas in Western terms (some­thing which I don’t believe is pos­si­ble with­out an under­stand­ing of the cul­ture and lan­guage too).

      • Yes I have read it. I think it’s bet­ter than any of the English trans­la­tions of TTC out there. It’s explained as Taoism should have.

  4. Agree @ above, part of dao is avoid­ing uni­ver­sal­ism, it’s often poi­sion for the mind and body. while many of the words sound uni­ver­sal they are the strongest warn­ings; when any­thing less will not express the grav­i­ty need­ed for the mes­sage. we use it this way too, too give somthing more weight, but then we seize upon the words lit­er­al­ly and use them as a rule, the words become more impor­tant than the orig­i­nal mes­sage behind them, and we lose the real mean­ing and are left with an over­bear­ing husk. (apolo­gies I’m in a bit of a mess right now over this, men­tal restruc­tur­ing!)

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