Tuesday, March 27, 2012

30 Days of Tao

So, earlier this year I completed a 30 day challenge.  At the end of it, I hinted that I may be doing my own version later on that directly relates to Taoism.  Well, April will bring that very task.  I have come up with my own list, and will attempt to write on this blog every day with the topics listed below.  I enjoyed the challenge of the last one, but I also noticed that I did more writing over all during that 30 days, so I am hoping I will see a similar upsurge during the next month.  I plan on beginning it on April 1st.

Day 01: Taoist book you are reading right now.
Day 02: Favorite Lao-Tzu quotes
Day 03: Favorite Taoist movie moment
Day 04: Taoist Bible quote
Day 05: Taoist trait that come easily to you
Day 06: Taoist trait that doesn't come easily to you
Day 07: How you discovered the Tao
Day 08: An inspiring Yin Yang picture
Day 09: Favorite meditation spot
Day 10: A Taoist tale
Day 11: An I-Ching reading
Day 12: Favorite Chuang-Tsu quotes
Day 13: Favorite Taoist song
Day 14: Your Chinese astrological sign
Day 15: Taoist artwork
Day 16: A way you try to exemplify compassion
Day 17: A way you try to exemplify simplicity
Day 18: A way you try to exemplify humility
Day 19: A lesson learned from animals
Day 20: Favorite Tai Chi movement
Day 21: A Tao Te Ching verse that is relevant to you right now
Day 22: Favorite Lieh-Tzu quotes
Day 23: A great Taoist resource
Day 24: Something that challenged your Taoist belief
Day 25: A myth about Taoism
Day 26: A Taoist themed you-tube video
Day 27: Leading like a Taoist
Day 28: Favorite Taoist quote from a non-Taoist
Day 29: Religion or Philosophy?
Day 30: Reflection of this 30 day challenge

Wish my luck, I hope you all stay tuned :D

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Compassion for me

Today, I will talk about compassion, because that was the topic of the latest meeting at TrueTao.org.  I am not talking about the emotional state that many refer to as compassion, but to the deep concern that one may feel for others.  I feel like I'm a natural at feeling compassion for others, even for animals, but this does not hold true to compassion for myself.

Compassion insists that you leave ego and competitiveness behind.  This has always been a big struggle for me.  When I compete, I want to win, and tend to take it badly when I don't.  I've seen this about myself, and have tried to adjust my behavior, so people will still want to "play" with me.  I have a better reason for that adjustment now, though.  I see that by labeling myself as a winner, labels another as a loser, and that's not what I really want.  I never see those I beat as losers, so why, am I so insistent when I lose to call myself a loser?

Another problem I have is admitting when I'm wrong.  I know that I am a smart individual, and tend to base my conclusions on solid evidence.  But when faced with an argument I am not prepared for, I tend to panic and retreat from the conversation rather than consider this new perspective.  In recent years, I have gotten good at considering it after the fact, but still have trouble controlling my immediate defensiveness at discovering I'm wrong.

Accepting others, including their flaws is a part of compassion.  But there is also a need to show that compassion to yourself.  I know I'm not perfect, so why should I react so defensively when I discover I'm wrong?  I feel it is out of a desire to appear perfect.  But then one must define what it means to appear perfect, and realize that not everyone will share the same interpretation.  An answer that one person finds arrogant and snarky, another may find sassy and endearing.

So for me it all boils down to seeking external validation.  If I accept myself and my lack of knowledge, the defensiveness can disappear.  If I am kind and compassionate in all of my dealings with both others and with myself, I can rest peacefully knowing that I am cultivating the Tao. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Attending a Church

Any who are familiar with my journey know that I spent many a youthful Sunday morning at Church.  I attending more than 7 different denominations, never really finding one that suited my needs.  I quit going once I entered college, and spiritually I did not miss it.  There was something that I did miss though, the comradery that churches have.

There is more benefit gained by modern churches than just paying dues to God.  They develop small communities that are very caring and giving to one another.  They also develop a trust among themselves, and of their pastor.  When I would have a question about a sermon, the pastor almost always took the time to speak with me about, not dismissing me as too young to understand.  Every Sunday I enjoyed sitting among the congregation, attempting to discover that truth that would finally bring me inner peace I strove for.

Since college, most of the spiritual paths I have been on have been mostly solitary pursuits.  There are advantages to this as well, but I found a sincere lack of direction.  It's hard to know how to proceed when you are your own teacher of material you haven't mastered.  My pagan days were numbered and, continuing my search for the right answer I came upon Taoism.  The more I read about it, the more I knew I had finally found something special.

I made the transition and finally began calling myself a Taoist, though I was still new to the concept.  I read several books, some I continue to read now.  But I felt the need to talk to someone, anyone who actually knows more about it and can answer some questions for me.  Unfortunately, in a tiny town in Iowa, there is not a lot of cultural options open to me, and I've never met another Taoist.  I turned online to a group on Facebook.  At first, it seemed like a treasure trove of new information.  They references so many things I'd never heard of before.

Then, I started to notice that some people were told they weren't real "Daoists" and called "new age" and dismissed as phonies.  It bothered me a lot, because the compassionate Tao I had come to love had no room for this kind of treatment, yet here were many calling themselves Daoist and treating others with disrespect.  Worse yet, they seem unable to answer questions without correcting the questioner any flaws they found in their question and then getting so lost in rhetoric to lose all connection with the knowledge the questioner sought.  I was getting frustrated, wondering if the fringe was where I belonged, not wanting to be a part of this community, and not caring about old Chinese rituals as much as interpreting the Tao Te Ching and applying it to my life.

Yesterday, I read a blog from a Taoist I follow on here, talking about giving away his Taoist books to inmates, as they could use the guidance more than anyone.  It was written a month ago, but somehow glitched and appeared on my feed as yesterday.  Reading it, I felt renewed, just seeing an author care so much about the message, not the reward.  I had always enjoyed this blog and often thought of buying some of his books.  Reading more about the author, I found that he is a speaker at a temple in California.  Instantly I longed to be able to attend one of his lectures, or at least visit this temple.  I was intensely thrilled to see a link allowing me to watch these lectures streaming online.  Finally, the ability to be a part of a community again!  I've been going through the archives and have loved the amazing insights I'm gaining from them.

Thank you TrueTao.org for allowing me to stay on my path!