June 13, 2009

Saturday Review: Simple Taoism: A Guide to Living in Balance

BOOK #: 46
CHALLENGES: Spiritually Speaking Challenge, New Authors, Triple 999 Challenge
RATING: 4 Stars

"At its greatest, Tao is infinite; at its smallest, there is nothing so small but Tao is in it. That is how the myriad things come. It is so big that it encompasses everything. Deep like the sea, it cannot be fathomed." -Yutang 1948, 187

Taoism (pronounced Dow-ism) is an ancient philosophy whose basis is mystical, but whose application to life is practical. Taoists believe success and peace lie on a matter's natural path, its natural course. By encouraging events to unfold naturally and without a lot of resistance, wisdom can be manifested.

This is quite the opposite belief system of the Western world which believes that more of anything makes for a better, easier, happier existence. However, many Westerners continue to find that they are not fulfilled and do not feel at peace. Taoists believe too much of any one thing throws life out of balance and that to feel this harmony we seek, we must restore the natural balance of things. You may have heard of this philosophy as "yin" and "yang".

The authors take their vast cerebral knowledge of Taoist practices and philosophies and combine it with their understanding of Taoism as practitioners themselves to create a book that is both easy to understand and entertaining to learn. Not only do they explain how the concept of "yin and yang" works (there's more to it than merely opposites), but they teach how to meditate, how to practice chi kung and other eastern medicine to enhance well-being, explain the different schools of thought on Taoism, and even how to express Taoism through the arts.

I do have to say my favorite concept to learn about was that of yin and yang and the eight trigrams. I did not realize the extent of what this simple symbol meant. I also enjoyed reading this to further my understanding of Taoism after reading The Tao Te Ching. I love how Taoism fits in so perfectly with the belief system I have been forming for years. I am continually amazed at how interchangable the concept of Tao (or 'the way') is with the concept of God in the Judeo-Christian belief system in many instances.

The more I read about Taoism the more I want to learn. I have a couple more books to try out too: Tales from the Tao and The I-Ching, or Book of Changes. I imagine they will be as fascinating to me as Simple Taoism and The Tao Te Ching have been.

3 comments:

  1. This sounds like a really interesting read. I'm going to see if my library has it. Great review.

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  2. I'm going to check on this one, too. If you haven't read the Tao of Pooh yet, I'd highly recommend it.

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  3. Great review - you really give a good idea of what is in the book!

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