“To see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower, to hold infinity in the palm of the hand, and eternity in an hour.” ~William Blake

My first introduction to Taoism occurred when I happened to find a book on the subject while in college…It has had a deep influence on my thinking and decisions through out my life.The description below is one of best I found summarizing Taoism…it was copied from a page in eastern-philosophy-and-meditation.com

“Taoism has as its goal, helping people realize their FLOW of oneness with the Universe. Nature functions in a state of harmony, the various plants and animals that form a part of the natural world live in a FLOW of interdependence with each other. An acorn tree for example, derives its nourishment from the FLOW of Sun, the  arainfall and the soil. The wild pig depends upon the acorn for its food. The droppings of the pig nourish the soil and provide for the acorn tree and the other plants rooted in the soil. Taking another example, the leaf of the acorn tree derives its nourishment from the parent tree. When its life ends, in autumn, the leaf falls, decomposes and fertilizes the soil for the parent tree to draw its nourishment. Thus all being in the Universe FLOW in a state of interdependence, none can survive on its own.

Man is not separate from the Universe or from Nature but is a part of it. Hence, according to the religion of Taoism, we must respect nature. The ruthless exploitation of natural resources by modern man to support his lifestyle and his economy cannot but be condemned by Taoism.

But what is it that prevents us from realizing, from experiencing our FLOWING oneness with nature. It is our identification with the mind – the rational mind. The rational mind thrives on solving problems. That is its purpose. It should be used when there is a problem to be solved and not as a guide to life. There is an old Chinese saying that goes, “The Human mind is as much an organ for finding food as a pig’s snout.” And what does the pig do with its snout when it is not hungry. It does not use it. The habit of compulsive thinking, which we are all subject to in the modern age, is a grave problem and must be addressed to solve the ills of our civilization.

The rational mind classifies and bifurcates, it sees one object as separate from another. It is indispensable to problem solving, to finding food. But we overuse and misuse the rational mind. Because the rational mind perceives that we are separate from nature we exploit nature. It sees us as separate from other human beings and we exploit, take advantage of and compete with our fellow human beings. We live in isolation and loneliness. We have lost our feeling of oneness FLOW with nature and with each other. Our mind sees us as separate from the world around us. This false separation is called the ego.

The religion of Taoism also has the concept of Yin and Yang Chi, or vital energy. Due to our rational mind and compulsive thinking we feel separate from the world around us. But even more tragic – as the religion of Taoism teaches us – is our sense of separation within ourselves – the separation of our mind and body.

“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.”~ Rilke


6 Responses

  1. I like that concept of the school as related by Jen. I can see how it would encourage in children a sense of community and a sense of the interrelatedness of all of us. Cooperation versus competition….so much of benefit could come out of schools organized in such a manner. I wonder if it could ever happen in this present culture?
    thanks, Jen.

  2. Jen,

    All competitive societies are left brained and egocentric…left brain values are deeply embedded in all their institutions…to introduce the values of the right brain requires a radical change often needed by a revolution.

    The Sixties seem to have some of these characteristics but fizzled out perhaps because of the age of their followers and lack of support from the political establishment.

    I enjoyed reading about your early childhood schooling and it could serve as a good example for our current educational system.


  3. I always believed the educational system should be run with this philosophy instead of the angle of competitiveness. When I was growing up I went to a small elementary school. There was no smart class, no dumb class. We were given our permanent seats after the teacher had a chance to evaluate each child’s strengths and weaknesses. The final seating was organized to where everyone sat next to someone that they could help and be helped by. we also changed seating for certain subjects.

    Everyone had both strengths and weakness, nobody was made to feel smarted than the other. I was brilliant in math but sucked in reading comprehension. I sat next to a kid who sucked in math but aced reading. They helped me and I helped them.

    The whole school was run this way. There seemed to be no real cliques. There was no bullying and everyone seemed to be friends. It went past academics. The nerdy kid was seated next to the cool kid, The shy next to the outgoing. Every grade this was how it went.

    I guess the principal was a right brain thinker and advanced in how to best achieve academic success as a whole. One thing I know for sure; No child in that school felt less than another. we were all a team when it came to learning, socializing and experiencing school life. Today schools are all about competitiveness…and of course left brain thinking. It’s a shame.

  4. Wild geese fly in V formation for a very pragmatic reason: a flock of geese flying in formation can move faster and maintain flight longer than any one goose flying alone. Synergy is a law of nature. By flying in “V ” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.

    Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

    Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

    Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those who are heading in the same direction as we are.

    When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.

    Lesson: It pays to take turns doing hard jobs, with people or with flying geese.

    These geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

  5. yes Ross, I understand you 100%. In order for others to understand,they must have already arrived at the conclusion, words just piece together the puzzle…but the puzzle is already predetermined. words are the comforting factor in connecting with another for intellectual understanding. I love your geese analogy.

  6. Often times when I travel through my mind, I’ll stop to wonder if I should remember how I got there so I can tell others. But then it occurs to me that you can’t show others your ideas. Words are nothing more than symbols of different concepts and ideas, so therefore somebody has to already know what you’re trying to say in order to understand it. That’s why words work well enough in normal day-to-day activity but completely fail when trying to describe something novel. So ultimately, for somebody to understand anything they have to arrive to that conclusion in their own mind.
    So along those lines I’ve always assumed it futile, but now that I see that I’m not the only that is/isn’t crazy it’s reassuring, in a way. Maybe because it’s nice to know if I don’t make it out someone else might. Makes me think about geese. Each goose has to fly for themselves but just the act of flying together allows each of them to fly farther.
    I don’t know at which point that turned into a ramble so I’ll just leave it with this, thanks for sharing sid!

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