The Middle Way of the Tao

The Chinese book of spiritual wisdom, the Tao Te Ching, talks a lot about the importance of living from our own wisdom and not being dragged around by our emotions.

Someone gives us a compliment, we fall in love, we get something we’ve wanted for ages and we soar upwards. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things in themselves but the trouble with attaching the way we feel to those kind of highs is that they leave us open to being plunged back down. The love affair doesn’t pan out, someone else says something we find hurtful, we lose something we’re very attached to and the next thing we know, we’re in a pit of despair. We can even end up chasing the highs and, in doing so, giving our power away to others or what happens to us.
You’ll find this piece of spiritual wisdom echoed in many places. Zen Buddhists talk about detachment. The Wheel of Fortune card in the tarot deck depicts a great wheel, usually showing people riding high at the crest of its turn but then falling as it revolves and shakes them off. The Law of Attraction says that the key to drawing in what you want is to vibrate at an ‘attractive’ frequency. Getting off the wheel that can take us high but then inevitably plunges us down is a great way to manage our vibration.
Taoism recognises that we’re all very much in the world and we can choose exactly where in the world we want to be. But it encourages us to see the goings on in the world around us as something that we can let flow through us without totally taking them to our heart and to avoid letting the different experiences that come our way shake us from our own power. Specifically, it encourages us to appreciate everything without succumbing to desire.
Why not desire? To desire something, you have to focus on the not-having of it and you have to let that not-having of it throw you out of feeling good into a desire state. We’re not talking about the dangers of fancying an ice cream. We’re talking about the state we can get into when we convince ourselves that without any one particular thing in our lives, it’s impossible for us to be happy.
Sometimes the Tao Text is quite difficult to understand. At others, it’s straight to the point! As it says, quite bluntly,

“Whipping your horse around hunting in the fields will make you as crazy as a mad dog”
Tao Te Ching translated by William Scott Wilson

Chasing after anything can leave us exhausted.  Far better to sit still and draw what we want towards us.

Taoism is full of paradoxes. It encourages us to walk the middle way, but when we stop looking for things on the outside to change the way we feel and become complete in ourselves, that’s exactly when the Tao suggests that we step into the great flow of all things. Life just seems to work much better, even though it might feel as though we’re not trying to work it at all.

The Tao of T

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