Friday, February 25, 2005

The Taoist in Us All

A great deal of what each of us encounters in this life is frightening. I don’t mean that things are necessarily life-threatening or life changing, but so much of what we experience is of an unknown quantity and what we fear most is anything unknown.

Every corner we turn COULD present us with particulars we are not prepared to deal with. An off-handed remark COULD turn someone against us. An action we decide to take or not take COULD have deep consequences. It is all the coulds that make our lives an adventure.

To try to shield ourselves from the unknown, we try to clothe our psyches in some form of certainty. Most people find this solace in the form of religion.

Religion helps many not to feel like a tiny speck in an endless ocean. It provides a set of fairly rigid rules for believers to follow. It paints a world, full of a multiplicity of hues and shades, in a starkly black and white fashion. Most religions promise that a future paradise awaits those who muddle through their ephemeral lives here on dear old planet earth.

In the end, however, what each of us chooses to believe or not believe will have little lasting impact. We are all part of some ultimate force or reality and this force or reality defines our destiny. It will take its course regardless of whether or not we acknowledge or comprehend it.

This is the very essence of Taoism.

Don’t get caught up in the word tao. It’s just a word, no better or worse than any other. All it signifies is that we are each part of a universal something. It is this incomprehensible something that impacts our lives far more than we may care to admit or realize. And it is this great unknown that we will never understand as long as we live in our current form.

In the end, we are ALL Taoists.

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