Friday, December 19, 2008

Tao of Dreams

The weather outside is frightful, but the fire inside's delightful. Since we've got nowhere else to go, we watched one of our favorite videos, Field of Dreams. On the surface, the movie appears to be about baseball and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. In reality, however, there is a far deeper message and baseball is the vehicle used to get us there.

When people first learn of Taoism, I'm often asked what source materials a person should get a hold of. While reading the Tao Te Ching and the Book of Chuang Tzu provide great inspiration and The Tao According to Pooh and almost any book by Alan Watts provide great insights, a person could do just as well watching Field of Dreams.

I'm certainly not suggesting the movie (or the book the movie is based on) was derived from a Taoist perspective or that the author or producer ever had an explicit Taoist thought, but the essence of Taoism is played over and over again throughout the story.

The lead character Ray (played by Kevin Costner), keeps hearing a voice. Initially, it says "Build it and he will come." Later he hears "Ease his pain" and "Go the distance". Another character, Terrance Mann (played by James Earl Jones), hears the voice on one occasion too.

Each time the voice speaks, Ray and the other character drive themselves crazy trying to figure out what it all means. They think hard, but find no answers. After a while, they throw up their hands and they focus their attention on something different. It's at the moment when they quit trying to figure it out that the message becomes clear.

We've all experienced situations like this. There's a word on the tip of our tongue, but, no matter how hard we try, it evades us. We're telling someone a story about a friend or celebrity, but, for the life of us, we can't seem to remember the name! We concentrate. We furrow our brow. We think and think and think, but end up drawing a complete blank.

Several hours later, when we are now oblivious to the previous situation, the word or name pops out. Heck, we may be awakened from a sound sleep to exclaim petulance or Bob Sanders.

The lesson here is that our minds often impede our brains. The former is crammed full of baggage (thoughts, desires, emotions, needs, dreams, aspirations, etc.) and so the lines of communication between the brain and the mind get clogged. When we lay the mind aside and allow the brain to function freely, the clog is cleared and the message flows unimpeded.


  1. Ah yes, those moments when I awake from a sound sleep to exclain petulance or Bob Sanders! :)

    A very well written and humorous post RT. Yep, I think you;re right about this.

    Peace to you

  2. I've never looked at that movie from this perspective, but I'm always looking for an excuse to view it again.

    I know exactly what you mean about trying to remember a detail like a name. It happens sometimes with me when I want to recall the name of someone from my past. As long as I try to think directly what the name is, it eludes me. But when I "think around" the block by remembering events or other people associated with the person, the name slips right into place. I think this is what you mean by the mind impeding the brain.


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