Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Of This World

When people learn I'm a Taoist, a common remark goes something like, "Oh Taoism, yeah that's a religion from China." While there IS a religious form of Taoism -- it came along thousands of years later -- basic Taoist belief is philosophical. Hence, many people today refer to it as classical Taoism.

It's not a religion. In fact, many Taoists (like me) don't believe in religion at all. All religions share one thing in common -- The belief in something supernatural. Some are monotheistic, while others are polytheistic. Some have elaborate creeds, doctrines and rituals, while others are much less formal in their structure. Still, the tie that binds all religions together is this belief in a supernatural being that effects the world in some manner.

Taoist don't view anything as SUPERnatural. We view each entity that makes up the cosmos as part of the nature of the universe. If everything is part of one principle or force, then nothing can be above it. That's precisely what supernatural means -- above nature.

The Taoist view wasn't derived from ancient books handed down by the "Gods" nor from the words of a sage or two. We ground our view of the world in the world itself. As I've written before, everything is interconnected and an action in one realm causes a ripple effect throughout the whole cosmos.

When events occur that we don't easily understand, we don't presume that some benevolent or malevolent force is at work. We acknowledge that, as human beings, we are unable to grasp the breadth of the universe and so things that seem random to us are anything but random for the workings of nature. Somewhere there was a causative agent that set in motion the result that we experience.

It has been mentioned to me before that Taoism seems like a belief system bereft of joy. I think that couldn't be furthest from the truth. Watching a magnificent sunset, a caterpillar became a butterfly or the ebb and flow of waves on an ocean beach is like heaven to those of us who see ourselves as part of Tao, the one.

My major gripe with religion is that people spend all their time concentrating on what they can't see and experience directly, while basically ignoring the splendor that envelopes them. If more people would stop to smell the flowers and listen to the breeze rustling the leaves on a tree, they would fast discover that we each have far more in common with the world around us.

We are the world and the world is us.

The interconnected cosmos.

The one.



  1. I have just been reading about Maria Montessori's theories of early childhood. She maintained that, given the proper tools and just a very little guidance, children from birth to age six learn and understand the workings of the universe and their place in it. At age six, a window closes and they no longer have access to that cosmic energy. At that point, they are turned over to schools and churches to be shaped into "civilized people".
    Perhaps we are all Taoist at birth and that is really the natural order of the universe.

  2. Both Jesus & Lao Tzu said that children are the most able to see creation. Lao Tzu described this state as the "uncarved block". Children experience the world without expectations, motives and all the crap we adults learn from civilized society. Both of these great figures urged others to return to the state of the child so they could see Tao/Heaven.

  3. I am a member of a "church" called Agape International Spiritual Center. It is founded on the principles of religious science, that study of religion that seeks to find the common ground of all religions. I don't attend to much any more, i feel i have basically grown out of it. However, the reverend, Michael Beckwith, frequently speaks out against established religion. Agape is one of LA's largest spiritual centers, with some 8000 members. They, too, do not really conceive of supernatural beings, as the services are deeply rooted in eastern philosophies, the teachings of King and Gandhi, and the practice of non-violence.

    Anyway, just wanted to share that with you!

  4. It's painful to me sometimes (I'm in my mid-20s) to react to the world some way and realize that I'm being 100% judgemental without listening/looking/accepting.

    It's sneaked up on me and is disheartening...makes me more conscious of being patient and allowing with people, so I don't squash the natural flow of things with my own arrogance and conceits.

  5. Apuuli.
    I don't believe the Spiritual Center you've been affiliated with is anymore than a church in name. Like Taoism, I would more say this group is philosophical, in nature.


    You are not alone, my friend. All of us walk against the flow from time to time. The key, as you've obviously discovered, is to recognize these times and to reorient ourselves back to the path of Tao.

  6. I realized some 30 years ago when I was my early twenties that Tao came closest to my own philosophical apprehensions...still does.

    Basically I see everything as a component of the ongoing creation and that is plenty deep and awe inspiring on a daily basis for me.

    Your post was an excellent description of the rationales involved. Kudos.


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