Benefits of the Tao
The Benefits of Understanding the Tao
It can be said that the Tao is the operating principle of everything in nature, including and especially, you. Understanding the nature of the Tao is understanding yourself. The better you understand yourself, the easier and more peaceful life becomes.
The essential principles of the Tao are really quite simple. What is complicated is unlearning all the preconceived notions we have about the virtues of life and nature.
The Tao is elusive to understand at first because there are no words to describe it. Like the wind, you can not see it, but you can see its effect on everything around it. From swirling dust storms to gently swaying trees, the wind follows the invisible laws of nature that can be understood.
Understanding of the principles of the wind has enriched the world; from children flying kites to Magellan circumnavigating the world; from dandelion seeds populating the fields to the Hubble telescope exploring the celestial winds of the universe.
Likewise, understanding the principles of the Tao provide the same enrichments in life. On a personal level it is the basis of all self-awareness. If you understand the Tao, you understand the nature of who you are – you understand the very foundation of your existence in the world.
Conversely, to understand the Tao, you have to question all the illusions we hold so dear in life. Just as we once thought the world was flat and the sun traveled around it, we now have abandoned those concepts as a new understanding has emerged.
The Fluidity of the Tao
Another popular symbolism of the Tao is water. Think of a drop of rain falling high in the mountains. It lands in a tiny alpine spring. It, along with all the other drops of rain, becomes one with the water. And together, with the help of gravity, they make their way down the mountain following the path of least resistence.
Here’s where it gets confusing for most people trying to understand the nature of Tao: The Tao is undefinable but the only way we have of explaining it is to create metaphoric words that vaguely imply the nature of the Tao. So in this case, Tao is simultaneously the individual drops of water, the collective stream of water, the gravity pulling it forward and the path of least resistance that it finds.
At the same time, the Tao is none of the above. That may seem like a paradox but not really. They are simply words used to convey a seemingly elusive concept, but they are not the concept itself. If we use the words ‘car,’ ‘automobile,’ and ‘motorized vehicle,’ they are not the car, they are representations. If we say ‘a car moves forward, moves backwards, turns left, turns right,’ we are using words to convey the nature of what a car is and can do, just as our words here convey the nature of the Tao.
But understanding the nature of the Tao is like understanding the nature of a car. Until you have actually ridden in a car and felt the wind blow through your hair, until you have felt the power of rapid acceleration, until you have felt the joy of riding down a scenic highway, you have not really experienced a car. The Tao is the same way. Words will teach you ‘about’ the Tao. It is up to you to utilize the principles so you can experience the Tao for yourself.
You can use whatever representation you want to learn the nature of the Tao – wind, water, cars – it doesn’t matter what works for you, as long as you gain the benefit of its teachings. Once you understand the principles of the Tao, the symbolic representations drift away.
The first thing you should know about this blog is that it does not teach the religion of Taoism. Just as the religion of Buddhism was created centuries after Buddha died, so was the Taoist religion was created long after Lao Tzu’s passing.
Secondly, this blog does not offer a lot of scholarly and esoteric commentary. One of the principles of the Tao is that it is simple. Long, complicated discourses on the subject are antithetical to understanding the Tao.
The third principle of this blog, and of the Tao, is that it can only be understood experientially. The postings are provided in no particular order. They are all equal in value and you do not need to learn one to appreciate the next.
Take whatever posting comes to your attention and think on it. You do not need to grasp it in its entirety to receive benefit from the message it has to offer. Just think of what it is saying and see if you can find correlation to the circumstances in your own life. In time, the Tao will become its own teacher. As you learn to follow the Tao, the Tao will lead you where you need to go.