Buddhism & Converting To Taoism
Because the philosophical and spiritual principles involved in Taoism emphasize harmony and “creative quietude,” I would not forsee any kind of radical or major conflict which might occur in my life if I became a Taoist tomorrow morning. Becoming a Taoist is not like becoming a member of an organized church where it is necessary to attend specific services adn functions and the impact of Taoism on one’s life is, to my understanding, rooted first in the personal and only secondarily in the public sphere. In fact, one might be a Taoist without nay one else even knowing the fact.
The lack of dogma in Taoism means that it would never really be necessary to preach or proselytize to anyone about your beliefs. In the Toa’ Te Ching, the verse which reads: “The tao that can be described / is not the eternal Tao. ” (Tao) should be enough of a warning to any student of Taoism to remember that there is no one “truth;” no one “way” and so, unlike some religions which stress preaching to others, Taoism, as a philosophical belief would require nothing like this kind of dogma or “witnessing.
” The changes which I would expect and hope would happen in my life are based around the idea of giving up false ambitions and false self-images and allowing the natural ambitions and expressions of myself to emerge from where they have been “sleeping. ” In America we are taught “no pain, no gain! ” and this is a kind of philosophical burden that we all carry which is in conflict with another idea most of us simultaneously carry with us: that we want to be happy.
The idea that we cannot gain unless we are in pain and that all gain is ultimately to create happiness is self-contradicting and it bears very little resemblance to the Taoist idea that “Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery. /By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real. ” (Tao) but it is precisely this kind of resolution to the contradictory impulses in Western society that I would hope Taoism would lead me through. The Taoist principles I would invoke, as mentioned, would be invoked primarily through action and not words.
So, if someone found out that I often sought to be alone to meditate, or that I often followed intuition rather than “logic” in making decisions and that I sought to be emotionally and psychologically in touch with “Darkness born from darkness. / The beginning of all understanding. ” (Tao), I expect I would be able to explain to them that my beliefs and practices were part of a larger, very ancient, philosophy with roots in the East and that through its tenants and practices I hoped to find harmony within myself and harmony with my surroundings: no more, no less.
I think that practicing Taoist meditation and creative quietude would certainly result in a lessening of tension in my life. It would probably result in my having a more active imaginary and dream-life, maybe a better sex life, and possibly even a better regiment of diet and exercise. The danger with any religion of philosophy is to look at it as a “cure all” to expect a miracle to come out of it immediately and change everything you don’t like about yourself or your life.
Another danger is obsession or the inability to see anything else but the dogma of one’s religion or philosophy. I believe that Taoism is so genuinely free of dogma that it’s basic ideas and practice would result in widening, rather than diminishing, my personality and personal disposition. I think I would find myself relaxed while others were getting tense. I think I would start slow with the more esoteric practices of sutra and yoga but lean very heavily at forst on the ideas and spiritual wisdom available in Taoist thought.