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Posted October 15, 2003
Incomplete but still quite complete!
Although we can tell that this is a book Watts started on and was not able to finish himself, there are many important insights in this book. This book presents an in depth exploration of the teachings of Taoism. It goes over many of the teachings of Taoism and Watts applies these ideas to many ordinary things that many of us would experience in life. If you like other works of Watts, you will definitely enjoy this! If you are interested in Taoism and other eastern ideas, you will also like 'The Ever-Transcending Spirit' by Toru Sato. It is a wonderful book that explains the nature of consciousness and how it relates to many of our experiences concerning interpersonal relationships, group relationships, and our own development and evolution. Happy Reading!
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Posted August 7, 2006
Going with the Flow
The watercourse in the subtitle is nature as the course of events, the way things are, the way the snow falls and the water flows. Tao is not precisely nature, but to follow the Tao is inevitably to follow the process of nature, going with the flow. In a sense, there is no other choice. All are immersed in nature, floating down the watercourse. Indeed, Tao is really just a name for whatever is, whatever happens of itself. Watts studies the ancient sources and translates them from the Chinese. Chapter 1, in fact, is on ¿The Chinese Written Language.¿ An ideographic and non-alphabetic language, Chinese corresponds well with Tao taken as the immediacy of nature in her living, changing patterns. Chapter 2 explores ¿The Yin-Yang Polarity¿ believed by Taoists to characterize every system or process, living or non-living. The art of living according to Tao is to keep the two poles in balance, not to eliminate one of them. The balance of yin-yang, positive-negative, is called ¿mutual arising.¿ No yang without yin one follows the other in cycle as does night the day, almost playfully. It is not until Chapter 3, ¿Tao,¿ that Watts comes to the heart of his discussion, but do not expect neat definitions even here. Tao and the universe are not separate entities, but neither are they identical. Tao is the harmony of all that happens in the universe. If everything is allowed to go its own way, there will be good order, because all beings are interdependent and mutually arising. This order or harmony consisting of all things being themselves is organic order, rather than legal, linear, logical, or mechanical order. Chapter 4 discusses the fascinating quality called ¿Wu-wei.¿ This term, literally `non action¿, refers to a kind of action that does not force its way or go against the grain of Li (`order¿). Wu-wei describes the lifestyle of one who intuitively knows what to do in every circumstance and does it all-but-effortlessly, like a master of akido or judo. Chapter 5 discusses another fundamental Taoist principle, ¿Te¿Virtuality.¿ It is as if the universe tilts in the direction of goodness, obeying a power, Te, that produces felicitous events spontaneously and without human effort. One who follows Tao can trust this power that directs the course of events. Taoists perceive nature as a well-ordered, interconnected, sustainable system¿an approach to nature that resonates with contemporary ecology. It was the hope of Watts that Taoism might help transform Western technological society, as he felt it had transformed and liberated himself. ¿It is a matter of realizing,¿ says Watts, ¿that oneself and nature are one and the same process, which is the Tao¿ (32). Read this book as the last will and testament of a serious but playful seeker.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2012
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