Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Did it Lao Tzu's Way

Many things have been happening in my life. Not the little minute toe-stubbing stuff... more the big bolder falling on the head type stuff. It's not my purpose to write about it here -- just to note that it's been happening.

Yesterday, I was thinking about a long held belief I've had -- probably since being cursorily exposed to the philosophy of Lao Tzu, the originator of Taoism. Though I'm too resistant to dogma to become a Taoist in any strict sense, I do feel that many of the ideas of Lao Tzu hit a big ol' twangin' G chord in my heart. In particular, the central concept from which the name is taken -- The Way, or the Tao; and, additionally, the concept of wu wei, which, oddly enough, is well expressed in the AA Serenity Prayer.

"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Note that I left God out of it... you don't need God to use this "prayer"... it's more a contemplation than a supplication. In my own life, when things just get crazy hard, it often means that I'm straying off the path... I need to back off a little. Look for serendipity, coincidence, good fitting shoes.

So... here's the thing... after thinking about this yesterday, Dana and I decided to find a movie to watch. Without having any idea of the content of this movie, we decided on "Men Who Stare at Goats." Now... you can take from that movie whatever you want. But it's about The Tao... the current that we swim in, being open to outcome, and accepting destiny. You can fight the current, but sometimes, you need to just float a bit... see where the flow is taking you.

I laughed out loud dozens of times in the movie... but here's what Lao Tzu had to say in passage 41 of the Tao Te Ching:

"Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao, earnestly carry it into practice.
Scholars of the middle class, when they have heard about it, seem now to keep it and now to lose it.
Scholars of the lowest class, when they have heard about it, laugh greatly at it.
If it were not (thus) laughed at, it would not be fit to be the Tao."

I'm no scholar of the highest class... and popular Taoism is just as far from the ideals set forth by Lao Tzu as is Christianity from the teaching of Jesus, or Islam from Mohammad. But for myself and in my life, a little Tao goes a long Way.

1 comment:

  1. Jim, you and Lao Tzu - what a great way to start my day! I think of the pursuit of music ultimately as one of the purest expressions of the tao: dedication required, but push too hard, hold too tightly, and it all dissipates. No dogma required ... just pay attention, stay humble, respect the flow - and leave the preaching to the lower classes.