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Taoist philosophy, yin and yang, the five elements; and their relationships to tai chi

Taoist Contemplations




The Earth is overrun by investigators and engineers and wilderness has been made vulgar with noise.
The country would survive without tractors and saws. It does not need bridges, and certainly does not need the pollution and poisons generally produced nowadays as byproduct of 'cultivation'. The country could do without monuments that mark such progress.
In the context of Tao, we violate the Earth with human ambition.
If left alone , the earth would provide us with everything we need.
It seeks no reward; only respect.

We should simply walk through this mysterious world without being a burden to it.




There were once four learned and accomplished men. One day they said to themselves, "Of what use is all our learning if we do not seek the employment of some great king?". Accordingly, they set out for the capital, Among these four, three were particularly brilliant. The fourth was inferior to the others in intellect, but was the one with the most common sense.
On the road they came upon a skeleton of a lion."Let us prove our power and bring this lion back to life" proposed the first." Yes, this will bring us great fame" said the second." And fortune" added the third. "Be careful" said the fourth."Don't interrupt!" cried the first, who had already used his superior knowledge to put flesh on the bones. The second quickly introduced blood, and the third was about to breathe life into the lion."Quiet!" said the third from the depths of his labour, to the fourth who repeated "be careful, be care." Finally the forth did say "If you are not interested in my advice, then I shall go sit in this tree." Soon, the lion did come back to life - and killed three learned and accomplished men.

The fourth was the only one to arrive at he throne and was generously rewarded by the king and his successors.



We have many words that we use to mock country people: Yokel, bumpkin, nick, peasant, hillbilly,village idiot. Compare these to those often used to describe city dwellers: Neurotic, stressed, compulsive, ambitious, devious, obsessive, hard-nut, money grabbers. While we cannot all return to country life, it is beneficial to consider the ideal. City living is a mental construct that we create for ourselves. As soon as our effort ceases, it collapses. Strive in the city if you must; but don't forget, there is little ultimate value in the city. Before city there was country. Before death - life.




Why were the people of old so integrated with their surroundings? Because all that they used, the food they ate and the activities that they engaged in, were straight from their surroundings. They made their own tools and eating implements, grew their own food, domesticated animals and caught fish and game. Today our food is imported from distant places and elaborately processed. We have no idea where the objects and items that we purchase come from. Their presence and convenience is all that is necessary. We abuse our wealth, and use it to insulate ourselves from our environment. The closer we can be to the Earth and to nature, the more integrated to life we will be. Followers of Tao never claim to feel alienated from life. They have no choice. Their every action keeps them synchronized with the movement of Tao.
Being poor is not necessarily bad. When one is of modest means, one is forced to use what is at hand. Tao brings us these things. Tao is always enough.



In olden times, the devout carried portable tabernacles and shrines so that they could give devotions even when far from homes. Their gods were inside these boxes, protected and treasured.
Followers of Tao believe that the gods are within themselves. Even while sojourning, they remain oriented to their inner sacredness. Perhaps they may even breakthrough more quickly, for the preoccupation's of the mind are no longer present to interfere with the flow of the divine.

Once people connect to their strengths, there is no end to the wonders of travel.



We are all familiar with prejudice. It comes in many forms : Nationalism, chauvinism, provincialism, racism. Many of us cry out against these injustices. As long as there is prejudice, we can never fairly know one another. And yet it is exactly a type of prejudice that keeps us from knowing ourselves. We cater for all our own needs, our indulgences, intellectual curiosities and ambitions.
No one feels our own pain more than ourselves and we feel no greater joy than our own satisfaction.
Only when on the verge of death ourselves do we value life fully. This could be the first time that we truly appreciate life.
For as long as we value comfort over effort we shall never have the fortitude for the spiritual quest. As long as we adhere to intellectual ideas over experience, then we shall never have a genuine perception of Tao. As long as we insist that we are separate, individual entities apart from the rest of the universe, we shall not realize Oneness.

We create ourselves. If we are to reach realization, we must confront and resolve this prejudice.


Gary in an email to Mark: You have urged me in the past to do something on Taoism. [this] contains my own calligraphy, however this was copied (by hand/and altered a little) from a book that was called ... I think "365 Tao". I do not have a copy nowadays. It contained that number of daily "meditations". The text is not verbatim, but its not far off. I copied this text also by hand - with a brush - in red ink. I shortened/condensed the text as I went along. In making this final draft I have done that again, so I expect that it is not much like the original anymore; and this is only 'my favorite 6 out of 365. So, its a bit like the ten bulls thing. Close but no cigar! Gary Robinson December 2001


No one feels our own pain more than ourselves and we feel no greater joy than our own satisfaction. Only when on the verge of death ourselves do we value life fully. This could be the first time that we truly appreciate life.

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