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Friday, December 30, 2011

My Tao

(Another offering for Rambling Taoists, you can read it here first.)

I've been contemplating a New Year's resolution, to go eremetic, to stop ruminating, to stop reading,  to stop Facebooking, YouTube-ing, blogging, forum-ing, basically, turning inward to paint and make music, drink tea (and a little Nigori ) and contemplate clouds and rainbows from my lanai, with some qigong and meditation thrown in at appropriate times.  A basic quiet lay-Taoist lifestyle.  I was even ready to ask Trey to take me off the masthead here, saying "So long and thanks for all the fish."

Part of this is due to too much participation, too much red dust and noise, even though much of it has been Tao-talk-related.  Pose a simple question, raise a simple point, and you get arguments, sanctimony, tutelage and weird flavors of Tao (Advaita Tao, Zen Tao, socio-political Tao, quantum physics Tao, self-transformation Tao, self-negation Tao, TCM Tao, environmental, cultural , esoteric, orthodox, hippie, new-age goes on and on.)  In just the past week, not just on The Rambling Taoists, but in other forums, there have been deep and sometimes disturbing discussions and postings --some of which leave me feeling like I'm the receptionist in the waiting room of a mental health clinic-- about guilt, free will, karma, text translation and exegesis, authenticity of practice, Chinese vs. western, ancient vs. modern, Lao Tzu vs. Jesus.)  All of which suggests to me that the real truth in Taoism is the contradiction and paradoxes it allows.  So many Taoisms, so many Taoists.  (But just one Tao.)

Particularly perturbing to me is a notion expressed by Ta-Wan,  that  "We are little else than a sensitive spot in the universe."  Even if this is the case -- which I'm not sure it is -- why would you want to believe it? Why would you want to act as if that is true?   That we are no more than trigger hairs on a Venus fly trap, the responsive leaves of a mimosa tree?  This is a genuine question, not rhetorical astonishment. Even with quoting the masters (who are in fact, just some guys, like us, with something probably lost in translation), or with reference to direct experience (to which another cannot be a party), I cannot sign on that dotted line; it leaves too much out. 

We are more than amoeba…we are self-aware energy beings.
We are particle and wave.
We are matter and energy.
We are here, in space.
We are now, in eternity.
We are body, mind, and spirit.
We are human beings, feet on earth, head in heaven.
We are sentient and knowing.
We are cause and effect.
We think and feel.
We are the freedom in a deterministic universe.
We are poems that “be”  and stories that “mean.”
We are science and religion.
We are technology and art.
We are certain in our uncertainty; uncertain in our certainty.
We are born and die against our will, but while living, we exercise and express will.
This I believe, and this I act.


Cym said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cym said...

Great post, couldn't agree with you more.

As far as Ta-Wan's statement, "We are little else than a sensitive spot in the universe." That should really be translated to mean, "Ta-wan believes he is little more than a sensitive spot in the universe." I personally don't agree with it, or see myself in that way, nor does it really say anything that adds any value to my life or helps me in any way.

The idea that there is no free will, that we are all one, and all there is is infinity, is just as much an act of faith, as is the belief or disabelief in God.

It is what it is, right, but if there is no way for us to know for certain either way, what is the value of choosing one point of view over another? What is the value of downplaying the importance of humanity? What is the value of not believing in freewill?

I think there is a value in making either choice, but it is personal. It's not enough to simply profess one belief or another, but how do you apply it to your life, how does believing this or that ultimately effect your life, and does it actually help you in any way?

This is just my opinion, but I think that we should gravitate towards those ideas and lifestyle habits and philosophies that actually add value to our lives, that actually contribute to our quality of life, peace of mind, happiness, and clarity of understanding. Living as if there is no freewill does not add value to my life. It dimishishes it. Living as if we are little else than a sensitive spot in the universe, trivializes my life, and does not help me in anyway.

I see aboslutely no point in entertaining speculative notions, unprovable personal opinions, that don't add to the quality of my life. It's counterproducive. A waste of energy. Maybe it adds value to Ta-Wan's life, but it doesn't to mine.

Each person needs to find their own way, but if you are going suggest a way to others, it is helpful if you can demostrate by way of practical example, how your way of seeing things actually adds value to your life...rather than simply singing this hippie dippy "All is One" chant, stuck in an endless loop in la la land.

P.S. Was my choice to alter my post, freewill or divine providence? Maybe a bit of both. :)

baroness radon said...

I think the key point you make is about adding value to one's life. I value mine, as I am sure you value yours. And know that I cherish your deleted post!

YTSL said...

Hi baroness radon --

I'm glad you decided against stopping blogging. I understand that feeling of "too much" though -- and for this reason, I've yet to decide to enter the world of Facebook. (Yes, I'm a Facebook hold out. Still!)

sybil law said...

I understand your feelings about this entirely. I've recently made my own blog private (I need your email!) and I've contemplated just getting the hell off everything myself. I'm a person internally affected by everything around me - as I guess we all are... I have one friend who's just always this constant mess of nervous energy - and going out to have drinks with her only makes her louder and worse. I can't be around her, much, or I start feeling that nervous energy and it irritates the SHIT out of me. I distance myself.
I'm just babbling.
Anyway, I hope you don't leave. You're calming to me - which I sorely need.
Happy New Year!!

Cym said...

Yep, you got it. That's one of your greatest strengths as a writer, being succinct. What takes me several sentences, you say in one.

I've thought about quitting blogging many times, and just pulling the plug on all my internet activities, but it has become such an ingrained part of my life, it would feel more of a loss, than a liberation. Although taking the periodic internet fast, can be a very cleansing and restorative experience. Maybe that's all you need, a vacation from this.

baroness radon said...

@ All-- Although the possibility of ceasing blogging was not the actual theme of this particular post, I am grateful for your words encouragement. This is as good a moment as any to thank my loyal readers and commenters! Happy New Year to you all

@Cym--When I worked for newspapers, I learned to write to fit, to cram all the essentials into a few sentences.

baroness radon said...

@Sybil -- please contact me at

Happy New Year to you and Gilda, Mr. Law and Dave!