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The Taoist Perspective

Puffin bird sitting on rock

In my online coaching, I use dreams and ideas from the I Ching and Tao te Ching as tools to help others cultivate a Taoist perspective. Dreams present a Taoist perspective most clearly because while dreaming, we are in a state of wonder and witness events without the limitations applied by judgment. Dreaming allows us to express the full range of who we really are.

Anything is possible when we dream - Taoists are after this same freedom.

We dream of what we are not facing during the day. Even while dreams stir an emotional reaction, the critical side of the mind is suspended. Nothing interferes with the psyche's ability to bring self defeating ideas out in the open for inspection and release. Taoists observe experience in the same way. No matter the challenge, Taoists are seeking to transcend any limitations in awareness that keep them from observing how life ignites wonder.

Hover at the doorway of perception to see the mystery of life as it unfolds.

When we are dreaming, we believe our dreams are real. Our mind observes daily experiences in a similar mirroring of inner ideas. We awaken from the dream perspective, and are able to understand how the dream was created by our thought processes. If we flip this perspective 180 degrees, we come to observe how we awaken from our daily perspective each time we dream. One perspective shouldn't take precedence over the other. Both are at work to help us grow.

Taoism is the practice of trading judgment for wonder.

The easiest way to cultivate a Taoist perspective is by eliminating the sense of separation in the dream/wake/dream cycle. People who are working with their dreams often experience synchronicity more regularly. Dreams show us how we have organized our idea of reality. Experience is also a way of organizing reality. Synchronicity shows us how the inner and outer world are connected. The same wonder that is cultivated during dreaming is embraced by Taoists.

Those who do not know what cannot be done, accomplish great things.

My books interpret the I Ching and Tao te Ching and I observe many of the same ideas in both texts. Suspending judgment is an idea in both Buddhism and Taoism. The main difference between these ideologies is that Taoism uses nature and natural processes as a role model. For example, since nature shows no favoritism or the human idea of justice, Taoists observe how the mind runs from good to bad, right to wrong like cresting and falling waves. Beyond these distinctions, they observe the 'just so' aspect of what unfolds and are more concerned with recognizing the beauty of 'what is.'

Taoism explores how experience courts the abundance of the chaste mind.

Buddhism negates experience, while Taoism sees it as something malleable and playful. The chaste mind enables us to be free from the embellishment that leads to any type of judgment. We become like 'the child who has not learned to smile' because we are observing and not reacting. We simply court an awareness of 'what is.'

When a student is studying the Taoist idea of Wu Wei, they often confuse it with the Buddhist idea of 'not doing,' which is an effort to stop the flow of cause and effect. Wu Wei from a Taoist perspective means 'not striving.' Rather than try, or attempt to do something, we move forward with the effortless sense of simply 'being.'

In your 'coming to be real,' life always celebrates your arrival.

Unlike other spiritual practices, Taoists are not after perfection or virtue. In fact, to discover our authenticity, we must first be authentic. Taoists do not stifle behavior. A story in Taoism describes a man who fell out of a cart while he was drunk. He did not know he was riding and therefore, had no clue that he had fallen out of the cart, and so, he was not injured. There are also stories about disciples attending a funeral and laughing. A Taoist doesn't limit oneself by the structure and rituals of other's. This wonderous place is our home and nature is committed to unmasking us from anything that hides our authenticity. It is often those things we hide from others that will reveal our inner beauty.

Nourish what is for the belly and not the eye.

I use dreams as a way of helping others understand this beautiful and hidden part of their nature. Dreams also reveal how we have constructed reality. Both Buddhism and Taoism place the center of the universe within the individual. While you can do little to change the outer world, when you change your inner world, the outer world also changes.

Fulfillment is found in the full expression of our being, and not in seeking acceptance. Nourishing the belly and not the eye is how we can become more deeply nourished by life, rather than seeking instant gratification.

Taoism is a way to remove any separation from all that we see around us.

We do not to follow in the footsteps of the wise; we seek what they sought. If we attempt to center ourselves in another's truth, we leave the center of our universe. The master uses his dog to demonstrate the difference between truth and discovering one's inner truth. He tells the dog to go and fetch the moon by pointing at the moon. The dog stares at his finger, but doesn't look beyond it to see the moon. This is an example of how we can confuse the goal with the instructions used to point us in the right direction. Dogma is just the footprints of where the masters have traveled. We need to walk our own path and listen to how life speaks to us through experience.

Your path is revealed once you observe how life mirrors your inner world.

Unlike other philosophies for living, Taoism doesn't have a creation story. Nature demonstrates how it is unfolding over time in an endless state of becoming. Just as it is never complete - it cannot be said to have begun. This transient and ever changing aspect of life is at the core of Taoism.

Cultivating a Taoist perspective is achieved by a) seeing yourself as nature sees you b) observing how challenges unmask your authentic nature c) trading praise for the simplicity of being and d) using compassion as the 'off switch' whenever life feels overwhelming. This means to have compassion for yourself too. Because we have never been here before, each day is a new adventure.

Go on to the end of emptiness and hold fast to nothingness. The myriad of things all rise together and return to their separate roots. Whatever it is - it cannot be contained, so give up truth seeking and just enjoy the ride. Live joyously the way nature intended.