Christian Taoism

Once upon a time in a world that seems far far away I lived in Tennessee. During my time there I took up Aikido and Tajiquan (also known as Tai Chi) from someone I’d met along the way. Like a true master, we learned at his house, where he had equipment and an area for training.

The first thing he did when we started working together was have me get an old copy of the Tao Te Ching, I think I found it at a thrift store or maybe he gave it to me… I was to read it.

And read it. And read it.

The Tao is something that is very difficult to talk about or describe. It is also only one of many principles core to the belief system of Taoism.

In its simplicity, the Tao is the force behind all of the intricacies of nature, large and small… it is also the natural way, or the natural order, that occurs in nature, and around us, and to us.

Before I got too deep into the philosophy as I now know it, I made sure he understood that I was born a Christian and although not a Fundamentalist, that I am by nature and genetics a Christian.

He explained simply that Taoism is a very simple philosophy that can be superimposed (my word) over the Christian religion. Although it is counter in many ways to the “Western way” it is by no means counter to the Christian dogma.

As I got closer to the ideas, learning the ways of Aikido and Tai Chi, I began to understand more about his thoughts. Learning to move with the forces of nature, and the forces occuring around me, instead of counter to them, I began to see the strenght that lie in wu wei.

Once again this is difficult to talk about. It is a way of living, not a topic of discussion. It helps to learn something like aikido or tai chi to understand fully these concepts.

But the basic translation of wu wei is non action… or rather knowing when to act and when not to act. This concept is core to a new though process I learned over the last two years that goes something like this – there are some things I can control and some I cannot. Knowing the difference gives me a peace of mind that can’t really be earned any other way.

Knowing when to act and when not to gives me serenity.

But anyway, back to wu wei… this concept goes a little further than just doing or not doing. It teaches a way of doing without struggle, by becoming aware of the Tao, or the natural way, and then doing within the energy offered there.

From the Tao Te Ching,

The Sage is occupied with the unspoken
and acts without effort.
Teaching without verbosity,
producing without possessing,
creating without regard to result,
claiming nothing,
the Sage has nothing to lose.

So the way to practice this concept is to reduce activity in general, or simplify one’s life, while cultivating The Way (The Tao) in the mind. As I use certain methods to clear my mind of the garbage, and start to see the natural way of things, I begin to move again, doing in accordance with what I see as The Way.

Have you ever had a problem doing something, like writing, or singing, or working, that you know you were good at, simply because you started thinking about it too much? I experience this from time to time, where I’ll become introspective or self-conscious while I’m doing something… the result is usually that I start getting worse at what I’m doing and get slower and just start screwing things up in general.

Well, wu wei is the act of getting out of your way, out of your mind, and acting in accordance with what is going on around you without thinking so much. I think a lot when I write and talk, but I’ve learned that at work I have developed a good sense of just doing and letting my mind go.

I can thank my old teacher and his training for this.

Now to bring it full circle, I just look at The Way – that force behind everything – as God. As I mentioned, and as this blog post shows, I am not a fundamentalist. But I have spent a little time with numbers, and music, and people, and life, and I know without a doubt there is a force working behind the intricacies.

So to me, cultivating the Tao is simply looking into my life, and around me, for God’s will. This isn’t the typical hellfire and brimstone God. Not for me. And maybe if every Christian group could agree on one set of ideas, then I’d join in.

But since it is obviously a flexible religion and I consider myself spiritual but not religious, then I am fine with bringing a 2000 year old philosophy into my life that I have tried and has proven true and helpful over the year.

I am not defending my spirituality I just thought it would be an interesting discussion to bring up these ideas.

I’m not going to dig into Christianity any more because if you speak English you probably know plenty already. And I am not going to push the ideas of Taoism anymore because the more you talk about it the further you get from it.

So I leave it there… anyone interested obviously has an internet connection…. go ahead and dig in. Its all there. I highly recommend it. But I will just say one more time that if you really want to learn something about the philosophy the best way to do so is through that – doing so. Pick up some tai chi or maybe aikido or perhaps some kung fu if you are lucky enough to have that offered in your city.

You may not be instructed to read this and other books relating the Tao but you will pick up the concepts as you move through the art. It is a highly rewarding experience.

7 Comments

  1. I just found your post in a google search of “Christian Taoism” and decided to leave a note. I like what you have to say about Taoism, and I see the reference to the serenity prayer you embedded above, too. Nicely done. When did you write this?

  2. Thanks for reading! I think your blog idea is a good one, and I’ll be reading along when I can… I wrote this post in October 2008, completed on the 27th. Glad you liked it!

  3. Congratulations on your new daughter, too.

    You’re in for an adventure.

  4. What a subtle irony. I was raised in christian churches and have attended them all of my life (fundamental, evangelical…woo hoo…) Recently, I read The Tao of Poo. Don’t necessarily agree with everything in it, but it made me curious. I started looking up some of the other ‘beliefs’ regarding the Tao and realized it sounded vaguely familiar. I’m about to reread the ‘red letter’ portions of the new testament and listen to those words through a different filter than before. Interestingly, I’m finding many of the same similarities that you’ve indicated on your pages between Tao and Christianity.

  5. Taoism And Christianity had many meeting points.. as a traditional Taoist believe, there is only one true Supreme Being of non-being the TAO, like the Christian belief in ONE GOD. may you live in TAO the True ONE GOD. Remember this “Impartial do the TAO of GOD may be it always favor good men.”

  6. I (too) just found your blog by Googling Christian Taoism.

    This post is a couple of years old, but I still wanted to say “hi” and thank you for writing it.

    I hadn’t thought of the Serenity Prayer in light of Taoism, but it meshes quite nicely with Wu Wei.

    Your post has given me food for thought.

  7. Once again The Universe in its inherent choreographed intelligence directs my inquisitiveness towards the necessary off ramp. I have been searching diligently for a way to synthesize my Christian core framework with my newfound appreciation and excavation of The Tao. Lease send me as much literature as you can. I truly believe nothing is a coincidence and we all must peel away these suffocating layers of EGO ( edging God out) before we can readily embrace this simple and most profound truth. Thank you for bridging this gap for me.
    Peace.
    – Wayne


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