tao te ching

I’m not a religious man. Christianity taught me early on that religion is just another bullshit way to control people, and while I still lean more agnostic than straight atheist (if only in acknowledgement of the finite nature of human understanding of existence and the cosmos), I would not join a formal religion for any reason.

That said, I’m drawn to certain aspects of religious theory. I like Jesus teaching people to be nice. I like the Buddha’s sense of presence. I admire the hopefulness of prayer and the stillness of meditation.

And I love the Tao. If anything, I would consider myself an informal Taoist. I’m certainly no scholar, but I do my best to understand.

I generally work off the Stephen Mitchell or Ursula K. Leguin translations. I try to read a passage each day, to remind me of the closeness the Tao tends to hew to my own beliefs about what life is and could be.

I am going to attempt to explain my attachment to each stanza going forward, not all at once, but in pieces. I will undoubtedly anger some Taoist scholars who will scoff at my understanding, but this is about a personal understanding and connection. If it helps someone else, who gives a shit if some academic somewhere disagrees with the interpretation?


Target: 1100 words
Written: 325 words, novella: The Mungk


Doing my best today, but my head is pounding. I see the United Church moved to an even more progressive and liberal stance regarding substance abuse, which justifies my use of them as a baseline for kind Christianity, as opposed to more toxic sects of Christianity like those that support Republicans (and likely the Inquisition, if it still existed).

Of course, I still don’t believe that kindness and religion are required bedfellows. To me, kindness chosen instead of suggested or enforced is more natural kindness. Internally generated kindness is better than kindness pushed from outside by an institution.

We shouldn’t have to be told to be kind; it shouldn’t be an externally touted mandate.

The kindness that comes from within, kindness we choose ourselves, is always of a greater quality than kindness dictated to us as actions by others. Not that there’s no value in “forced” kindness, only a less pure intent, which becomes easier to forget or twist.

Choose kindness for yourself. You don’t need a man in the sky to tell you that.

Target: 800 words
Written: 199 words, novella: The Mungk