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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Monday, May 16, 2005

Taoism, Experiencing Life

I recently listened to an old audio file of Alan Watts speaking about Taoism. He suggested that in order to begin to get a feel of Taoism that we imagine ourselves as just born. All of our senses are working but we have no way of understanding what we experience, we have no words for the sensations and no way of relating them. Everything is just experience. We don't even know where the experience is located. This certainly eliminates the possibility of there being a "plot".

The analogy he gave provided me a powerful insight into how much time and energy I put into understanding, and talking about things rather than just experiencing them. Today I heard a bird singing. The experience was immediately interrupted with my mind saying "there is a bird singing, what kind of bird is it?", but then the experience of the bird singing was gone!

The plot is, if you will, "There is a bird in a tree above singing". In Taoism I simply have an experience. I hear it, as part of me, I am the sound, I am the bird, I am the tree.

When I first started thinking about what goes on with me regarding experience in contrast to talking and thinking about experience, I found my self feeling guilty. I felt I should be able to be with the experience instead allowing the experience to quickly be replaced with mind chatter. Then it came clear to me that this is a life long task and that to simply become aware that there is an experience separate from my thoughts is a significant step.

We all know what it is to be with an experience. There is a timeless effortlessness about it. Words are inadequate, even unnecessary to describe it. We are swept along by it, the way an ocean current moves us along the shore without us noticing.

Suddenly I hear my mother calling me in, there is a coolness in the air. It's getting hard to see the baseball now, I strain to read my watch, it's almost 9. My hands are dirty and I am blissfully tired. Where did the hours go, what took place? It doesn't matter. I am filled with a feeling of being whole and complete.


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