Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ending Both Challenges

So I must apologize for not completing my 30 day Tao challenge, it's a bit sad that I was only 3 days away, so I will finish it all up now.

Day 28: Favorite Taoist quote from a non-Taoist
Though the Tao Te Ching wasn't translated until after his death, Ralph Waldo Emerson had a keen abiity to capture many of the concepts.  Here are just a few:
"A great man is always willing to be little."
"A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise shall give him no peace."
"A man is what he thinks about all day long."
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”

Day 29: Religion or Philosophy?
This is an age old question among Taoist/Daoist, and I would refer you to a previous post I made to explain my point of view on the matter.  Simply put, there is both, and many among them claim to be the only "real Daoists".  This type of labeling and exclusion is completely at odds with Lao Tzu's teaching, in my opinion.  Tolerance if not acceptance of others is certainly a Taoist idea.

Day 30: Reflection of this 30 day challenge
I really enjoyed exploring some of the different ideas.  If I were to make this challenge better, I would allow myself more than a single day to reflect on each of the ideas. Many times I felt rushed to get the post done in time, and other things demanding too much of my attention to allow me to explore something as deeply as I would have liked.  Perhaps a once a week challenge for a couple of months would be more appropriate for such a deep topic.

I have also opted to put the Complaint Free Challenge on hold.  I learned more about myself and those around me in one week than I ever expected.  I still plan on attempting the challenge, but I don't think that right now is the best time for me to have any chance at success.  I am still being mindful, though, of the complaining and gossiping that I had not idea I did so often.  I am also trying to just stay in an overall more positive mindset, although the universe has sent me MANY challenges to that attempt.  I will likely write a post in the future chronicling my one week of this journey.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Day 27: Leading Like a Taoist

One thing that I feel the Tao Te Ching is very clear about is how to be an effective leader.  I decided for this one I would share with you all a section of a psychology assignment I did for a Psychology of Leadership class.

Leadership in the Tao
            The first place that this Taoist learner began thinking about leadership was in her spiritual life when reading the Tao Te Ching.
            The 66th Verse of Lao Tzu’s work states, “The reason the river and the sea can be regarded as the rulers of all the valley streams is because of their being below them.  Therefore they can be their rulers.  So if you want to be over people you must speak humbly to them.  If you want to lead them, you must place yourself beneath them.
            Thus the sage is positioned above and the people do not feel oppressed.  He is in front and they feel nothing wrong.  Therefore they like to push him in front and never resent him.  Since he does not contend, no one can contend with him. (Lao Tsu, 2005)”
This passage speaks directly to the characteristics that make a good leader.  It speaks of the importance of remaining humble and compassionate when in a leadership role.  If a leader separates himself from his followers, he invites contention.
            There are many other references to leadership in this sacred text which encourages compassion, harmony and inclusion.  Lao Tsu (2005) denounces the claiming of ideas and says a true leader is acting as though the group interests were the same as his interests.  He goes on to claim that good leaders are the ones whom the followers scarcely know are there.  When the best kind of leader achieves success, the followers feel they can claim it as their own.

Lao Tsu. (2005).  Tao Te Ching (Translated by Charles Muller). New York, NY: Barnes & Noble Classics.

Day 26: A Taoist Themed YouTube Video

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 25: A Myth About Taoism

For me, the biggest myth I have encountered about the Tao is that the concepts are difficult to understand.  Many guru style leaders would have you believe the paradox of Taoism requires special education or training to understand (most then charge you for such classes or workshops).

I would point these people to the first line of verse 70 of the Tao Te Ching. 

"My words are easy to understand, easy to practice."

The verse explains that trying too hard to understand the Tao actually hinders the understanding of it.  The Tao is not flashy or attention getting, it is simple and straight forward.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day 24: Something that Challenged your Taoist Belief

Without a doubt, the thing in my life that has challenged every belief I have is the last 4 years battling with infertility.  Perhaps because I am still in the midst of the fight, I still have days where it overwhelms me and causes me to lose faith in everything.

About 1.5 years into my battle, I had all but forgotten faith of any kind.  I just couldn't be bothered with any sort of belief that supported my inability to have a family.  I told a friend as much, and she responded by pointing out that faith is easy when things are going well, but when things aren't going well is when faith is truly tested.  I took her words to heart and began reading the Tao Te Ching again.  Only 5 verses in, I read something that would completely change how I looked at my infertility.

Up until that point, I assumed that this infertility was a punishment of some kind.  I agonized over what act I had committed that was so horrible as to warrant denying me a family that I yearned for so deeply.  This was amplified by watching (what seemed like) everyone and their dog accidentally getting pregnant all around me.  I cried as the next person I deemed "unworthy" announced they were pregnant, and I remained barren as ever.

The 5th verse of the Tao Te Ching explains that nature (or the universe if you prefer) is neutral.  It is not a judge, rewarding and punishing the behavior of each of us based on our actions.  I found great comfort in realizing that these new mothers were not deemed more worthy than me, they simply randomly drew a different set of circumstances than I had.  Once I got past this, dealing with the infertility became much easier.  Honestly, I still have bad days, those times of self-pity, but I no longer play over my life wondering why I'm being punished, and I don't dwell on the "worthiness" of those who got their family easily. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Day 23: A Great Taoist Resource

I have to say that my favorite Taoist Resource has recently become a forum known as The Teahouse 2.0.

There are a lot of posts to filter through, and people of all levels of Tao cultivation.  The best part is, they tend to be supportive and understanding in nature, traits that go hand in hand with Taoism for me.  When I got tired of the talking circles and questioning your question interactions on other Taoist forums or groups, the Tea House was a breath of fresh air.  They talk about a myriad of topics, and are free with suggesting resources to help others gain knowledge as well.  A great community.