culture

girl seeker: “go with the flow”, says the tao

25 Feb 2015

i know. i know. if you have been following my blog, then you may (or may not) have noticed that i skipped over last week’s “girl seeker” post. it’s a series of posts that i am doing on wednesdays for 9 weeks based on the book man seeks god” by eric weiner. it’s a book about, well, a man’s quest to journey to different places, encountering people, all in the hopes of finding out who “god” really is to him. so far, it’s been good. interesting. though, always missing something a bit deeper (which is the same thing that i thought when i read “the geography of bliss”, weiner’s other book). i can’t put my finger on it. i love both books, but there is a depth, like i said before, that just doesn’t come through. or something…

anyway, last week’s topic was raëlism. ever heard of it? me neither. it’s a real religion with real people who are followers. but, it’s based on some space, alien thing. interesting, intriguing, and even with a few good ideas/beliefs (centered around how we should live life + treat each other, not the ideas about aliens and the idea that the leader has direct contact with them – not that there could not be other beings out there.). anyway, it was not worth my time to write about. plus i had a visitor in town. so, on to this week’s religion:

taoism. a religious tradition from china that focuses on living in harmony with the tao, or the way. (you had me at the word “harmony”).

simply put, the tao is known as the way… the flow of the universe. it is living with the belief in yin and yang. and, the heart of taoism is simply aligning our lives with the tao, or following the path, hitching a ride and participating in the energies that are flowing and coursing through all of life, including ourselves. basically, it’s going with the flow. and the benefit of doing this is the sense of peace and calm and balance that we have when we are immersed in the wave of the way. sounds perfect, huh?

now, this whole going with the flow thing. sounds like we just sit back and do nothing, right? just let life flow on and hitch a ride. like a surfer riding a continuous wave. or like an acid trip or something (not that i would know). all colorful and swirly and good feeling. however, it’s not that simple in taoism. just like it’s not that simple to be a surfer (north that i would know first-hand about that either).

following the tao is not about laziness and just waiting for life to happen. in taoism there is the concept of “non-action”. it means understanding the difference between making things happen and letting them happen. it’s a sense of understanding the way things are. it’s acceptance and gratitude and living in the moment, and yet co-creating with the energies of the universe to find our own voice. so, while we actively meditate and practice tai chi and do yoga and pray, if we do it honestly, we are aligning ourselves with the tao.

it’s like the power of attraction. or karma. what we put out there, we receive in return.

candle

taoism is a very vague religion, with no specific rules or rights or doctrines of faith, except belief in the tao. therefore, it’s individualistic and free-flowing, always changing. impermeable. which can be frustrating, i suppose, for people who want to have a set of beliefs put in front of them, with rules and ways of behaving and thinking and doing. luckily, i am not even close to being a person like that. i want no one telling me what i should believe. i want to learn and grow and experience for myself. i want to draw from religious traditions and mystics and great theologians/yogis/hermits/writers/thinkers of the past and today. and i want to live it out for myself, finding my own way to god.

i’m some sort of paradox when it comes to religion. i am somewhere in-between the religiously orthodox and the completely scientific. ultimately, i am not looking for hard facts evidence, I’m looking for experience. taoism is also a great big paradox. you see, the tao, is also not about knowing in the sense of facts and figures and logic. it’s a different sense of knowing, knowing with your heart. it’s about wisdom – living from our heart + soul, instead of from our shoulds, woulds, coulds, and need tos. it’s not about proofs and straight answers, but about mystery + soul. too much information stunts our spirituality, the taoists say.

so, in order to catch a ride with the tao, we must go within. empty ourselves. spend some time in solitude so we can hear that faint little voice and see that flicker of passion burning deep within. that’s the tao, in my humble non-taoist opinion. that’s our soul. spirit. but, connecting with our inner tao is not the end of the journey. it’s just the beginning. living life by following the tao means that we take the inspiration from our solitude and live it out in life. but, we do it from the perspective of being true to ourselves. in other words, going with the flow means living our life with meaning, with a deeper purpose, that is authentically us – instead of just going through the motions and living life on the surface.

moon

in that sense, the tao, the way, is like the wind breezing past us. and we are a bird, ready to take flight and use the wind to help push us along. we still have to flap our wings and determine our direction (free will), but we are connected to who we truly are, and so we take flight, soaring higher than we imagined as the wind, spirit, the tao, guides and energizes us, making our journey that much easier and more meaningful.

the energy of the tao is all around us, and living in the tao means that we are not lost, but that we are immersed in a way of living in the middle of mystery and energy. it is a way that helps us to lose ourselves in the flowing, whirling, emptiness of mystery that surrounds us. and, if i might add, as the author does too, no one ever finds themselves without losing themselves first.

but, by losing i do not mean that we empty ourselves of who we are. i mean quite the opposite actually. i mean lost in the sense of wrapped up in the crazy, beautiful, mystical spirit that tells us who we are. and, in order to do that, we simply must forget what we think we know. we must let go of expectations. we must set aside the beliefs that we think that we have to know the fact or have all of the power. we must put down the ideas that money, security, success, and the “normal” way is the way to growth and transformation. no, friends, the way is the way of freedom and lightheartedness and calm in the midst of everything that happens. it the way that focuses only on what is really real: l o v e.

then, we are riding the wave of the tao. the wave of love and peace and harmony – with ourselves and with each other.

onwards + upwards + riding with the flow! xoxo

 

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2 Comments

  • Reply Meghan 26 Feb 2015 at 16:43

    To your point Liz about the book lacking depth, I agree. When I was reading both books I felt like it was a matter of the author saying “oh, I am doing this thing or I am meeting this person because I’m writing a book.” And because the books are a collection of essays rather than being a deeper study of one topic or place, it felt even more shallow. I felt constantly reminded when I was reading that Weiner wasn’t actually doing these things as a quest or a search for meaning or to even really learn /experience at times; it was like he was doing things just to say he’s done them, as if he’s collecting these experiences as *things,* even when I didn’t feel it was being done solely for book-writing purposes. That being said, I did enjoy both books but I felt like they were very surface-level in some aspects. Weiner successfully picked up on the ubiquitous feelings of loss of connection, meaning, and purpose in modern industrialized society — things that everyone can relate to in some aspects — and he presented an interesting and entertaining survey of “solutions” in a way, but it’s limited. In my recollection of both books though I think its possible to see which religions, or elements of religions, he related to (and similarly, which places had elements that he thought were conducive to achieving satisfaction in life in Geography of Bliss), and those chapters of sections seemed to both shine and be more relatable. In Man Seeks God, I recall those chapters being the ones on Sufism and Taoism (possibly also Buddhism – memory is a bit fuzzy) and that it contributed to those being my favorite chapters/sections. With Taoism it seems we both connected with the idea of acceptance and active participation/taking responsibility in life. I love your summary and interpretation of Taoism, the acknowledgment that Knowing cannot be substituted by “knowing *about things*” and that connecting with your true, inner self is the way (no pun intended) to live authentically, with meaning, and to thus express your intent and being through action. I have no idea how close my interpretation of what you wrote about is to actual Taoism but it seems to me — and I’m guessing you — like a recipe for living a real life. Thanks as always for such an interesting post. xoxo

  • Reply mantras that blow my mind | be.love.live. 22 Sep 2015 at 14:02

    […] like it at that specific moment, then i am much more able to go with the flow of the universe, as the tao says. and this, in turn, immerses us in a way of living in the middle of mystery and energy. we […]

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