Thursday, March 29, 2012

Something Like That

Trey Smith

When asked to provide my personal definition for the undefinable Tao, I have my good days and bad days. There are times when I can rip off two or three somewhat cogent paragraphs. At other times, when I'm feeling less articulate, I struggle to put together even a few cogent words, let alone a whole sentence! When that happens, people ask me how I can a subscribe to a philosophy if I can't muster a definition of the main concept.

In the future, if I ever find myself tongue-tied, I think I could easily fall back on the following description from Eva Wong's The Shambhala Guide to Taoism:
Although the Tao is the source of all life, it is not a deity or spirit...In the Tao-te ching, the sky, the earth, rivers, and mountains are part of a larger and unified power, known as Tao, which is an impersonal and unnamed force behind the workings of the universe.
About the only word in the foregoing description that I might change is force. In some ways, a force is still a specific something, a distinct entity of unknown size and parameters. The word I personally would replace it with is process. In my mind's eye, Tao is the name we give for the process of the workings of the universe.


  1. Some people, myself included, would call this force "qi" which is manifestation of Tao. It is the actual vital energy which moves the world.

    1. baroness,

      I recently finished a reading that referred to ideal person/sage (shang ren) & real/realized/true person (zhan ren) - is this what you meant by "realized teacher"?

      The reading went on to explain a reference by Zhuang zi to 'zheng' being 1) the corrections a 'sage' must make in body 2) pacification of heart/mind & 3) concentration & control of 'qi' [the force you mention above] so as to "hold onto/keep/obtain the One". Am I correct to understand this to mean the process that the 'sage' must follow? J


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