Taoism in the Age of Disbelief

By Sydne Kilberg on October 19, 2015

“We found that religious involvement was low when individualism was high… Individualism is a cultural system that places more emphasis on the self and less on social rules. Individualism can conflict with religion, especially as religion usually involves following certain rules and being part of a group.” Dr. Jean Twenge, psychologist at San Diego State University said in a written statement on organized religion and its decline with millennials.

Going through stages of my life remaining unbaptized left me to find a way of faith on my own, and I quite literally found “The Way”- Taoism. This mixture of philosophy and religion puts an emphasis on harmony by means of “ The Way or The Path”, as being the source and driving force behind all that exists, in a way in which everyone may understand. From atheism to agnosticism to a general respect for practiced religions, I learned of this Taoism, which I’ve found to be, the most accepting of all. With now six years under my belt of practice, reading daily excerpts from Taoist texts, I share with you the path and its origin, how everything in life is connected, and how the way of Tao is inside each and every one of you, not worshipped, but lived. Everyone needs some sort of path to follow, as it stands as a way to understand that we are not alone.

Taoism has no founder and no founding date, this practice grew out of various religions and philosophical traditions in ancient China. The most widely recognized piece of literature exemplifying the Taoist way, Tao Te Ching, was written around the 6th century BC by sage Lao Tzu. He begins with, “The way that can be spoken of is not the constant way.” Therefore this “path” cannot be described in words; human language can only give hints that may help the mind form an idea. Understanding is intrinsic. Every person in this room is allotted a certain life-force at birth, and while many may get lost in the act itself of dissipating it through senses, the real way or path I’ve found to fully live is through strengthening, controlling, and increasing these senses. This outlook and practice creates a certain harmony helping one feel more connected with the universe and oneself.

Again I stress; everything in life is connected. You’d be lying if you said not once you’ve been stopped in your tracks with that “aha” moment, realizing how wild the universe is and its odd connections created. I know it’s happened to me many times and it’s amazing because when I try to delve deeper and figure out how and why things turn out as they do, I’m dumbfounded. Because there is no answer. Through Taoism, records kept of others feeling similarly, aids me in forgetting the unnerving feeling caused by the unknown; and to take appreciation to the fact that there is a bigger body than just ourselves. But we are a part of that bigger body, all working together.

The “way” of Tao is inside of you, not worshipped but rather lived. A master wrote, “We are colorful beings and that means we live to the heart, which leads this journey towards completeness, as each person uniquely finds meaning for their life.” A sense of the inner being within us is being deemed of higher importance lately resulting in a rise in attraction to more individualistic views. I am fond of it because in Taoism, there are no requirements, or restrictions to take part in it. No limitations on who may practice “the way”, because it is inside of us all. In it there is not considered to be one, but numerous deities, left open to preference. The principle that life is good is upheld with a focus on compassion, moderation, and humility, things each and every one of us can always work on. As mentioned by August Christopher, 30 years in practice, “Human being is unity-in-trinity; of body, mind, and spirit.” Strengthening these units one is capable of healing sicknesses in the body with a powerful mind. Energy may be raised by simply engulfing yourself top to bottom with positivity. Live these virtues, feel them, and you will undoubtedly find a certain peace; because Tao is in us all, all you need to do is to find the time to recognize it.

When searching for some higher faith, who is the ultimate opponent? Ourselves. Taoism helps us find ways to internally strengthen us through discipline, courage, and perseverance. We want to work on these things in order to conquer some of the inner demons inside of us all; fear, laziness, and ignorance. I read lessons such as this in Tao Te Ching 365. These texts were written roughly 2500 years ago in China. We are all just trying to gain a balance in life; this can be as simple as embracing a smile, and as difficult as mastering years of intensive study. Either way the object is to create a good heart, a good mind, and a good body.

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