Monday, April 25, 2005

The Taoist Way or the Highway?

I received this in an email this morning in response to my post yesterday about people in unhappy marriages.

Out of a sense of ego, we force things.

The society in which we live promotes the idea, ‘If you don’t like something then DO something about it.’ But, in the Taoist mind, it may seem that all the ‘doing’ is unnatural and contrived ~ that it only serves to promote the dilemma. A sage may tell you, do nothing about it, and it will change on its own. This may be good advice, and if nothing else sounds pleasant and wise. But how many actually understand at some intuitive level what this means?

It doesn’t mean that we become a turnip staring at the walls. It means we stop forcing things. If we can’t sleep, then we can’t sleep; we don’t attempt to force sleep, and we don’t fight against the temporal manifestation of our moment. If we have too much energy, when we live naturally this energy will expend itself. If we are lacking in energy, this imbalance will also be redressed in natural living.

We simply stop forcing things, and stop assigning value which only serves to perpetuate our suffering.

While there is some merit in learning to deal with our personal lives in such a manner, when we interact with others it fails. To deal with insomnia or an excess/lack of energy by balancing our lives/diets, is one thing, but to deal with people in the same way doesn't work.

If I thought this way and was out walking with a friend who was raped at gun point, then I would just keep walking because the situation would work itself out. I wouldn't call the police or for help and I certainly wouldn't involve myself in saving my friend because that would be forcing the issue out of ego.

That way of thinking also means that if someone is in an abusive or unfulfilled or unhappy relationship, they should just go with the flow and not force things because that's their ego talking. If a spouse beats another spouse to death, not fighting back, not running away, not looking for help and simply taking the beating is the Taoist way; they would be forcing things because of ego. The same is true of people in unhappy/unfulfilling/otherwise bad marriages. Live in balance, preserve the appearance of things going well and die a little more each day because to do anything about the situation (and that includes therapy, drugs, divorce, etc.) would be egotistical.

Meeting a bear in the woods intent on having you for lunch means letting the bear have you because that is the Taoist way. To run, play dead, fight for your life is forcing things and that is the way of the ego. Forget about self preservation or happiness. Grin and bear it and things will end up as they should.

Then again, the same could be said of someone who is married and involved with someone else. The spouse, if they find out, should just let it happen and wait for things to work out and no one should feel guilty. Now that I can agree with.

There is a book called A Passage to India where in an Englishwoman visiting India becomes acquainted with an Indian man. He plays tour guide for her and her friend and plans a lavish picnic to some echoing caves. A Hindu holy man refuses to go and even deliberately misses the train just as it is leaving the station for the outing. He knows something awful is about to happen and because of his beliefs refuses to become involved. Something does happen. The woman becomes overwhelmed by the echoes in the cave and accuses her Indian acquaintance of attempting to rape her when he tries to get her out of the caves to safety. The Indian man's life is ruined and he must settle somewhere else despite having a promising career as a doctor before the Englishwoman came into his life.

Had the holy man told them what would happen or been on the scene to prevent the situation, the Indian man's life would not have been ruined. But that is the Taoist way, which is very similar to the Hindu way. It would be egotistical to intervene in any situation even when you can help.

In so many ways that philosophy, good as it may be in some areas, negates free will and the power of the individual to change his destiny and the outcome of any situation. Walk across a road just as a car runs a red light and you must stand there because you are destined to be run over by the car. Everyone watching should stand by and watch because to change destiny is to give in to ego. Running away, diving out of the way or do anything to save yourself is ego.

While I believe that if you are having a bout of insomnia and simply can't sleep it's probably best not to resort to drugs, that is my choice and my way of dealing with things. Eventually, my sleep patterns will revert to normal. Using excess energy or resting when my energy is low is something else I can deal with. But those are personal issues and mine to deal with as I choose. Forcing myself to sleep, taking some to drain the excess energy or boost a flagging energy level is one thing, but to keep from helping someone or failing to say what's on my mind or refusing to get out of a bad situation is something else again. Maybe it is ego. I prefer to think of it as steering my own destiny much the same way a ship navigates wind and wave and current to get where it is going.

I'll shut up now.

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