Friday, December 14, 2007

The Tao of the Cowboy

The stresses in my life have made me a little un-centered lately. Today I'm trying to refocus on spirituality. The "Tao" in front of "Cowboy" is for a reason.

A recap for those who don't want to go digging for this nugget of info in my past posts. Several years ago I joined what I though was a normal everyday church. Actually my wife joined, and talked me into going. Oddly enough I'd been approached by these people twice before, and this little alarm went off in my head. This time it didn't.

Being in a cult is a very strange experience. Nobody in a cult believes they're in a cult, even if everybody that knows them can see it. Nobody about to join a cult thinks they're stupid enough to join one. The flaw in their logic is that the likelihood of you joining a cult has absolutely nothing to do with your intellect. Nothing. Very smart people join cults all the time. The Hale-Bopp comet cult was full of very smart people. Don't ever think you're too smart to fall for it. That leads to the Dark Side, my friend. It's all about emotions.

The other danger of cults is that very few people actually know what a cult is. People who have never been in one tend to get their ideas of what a cult is from TV. I seriously doubt any dramatization of Jim Jones or David Koresh was even remotely accurate. Many people who have been in cults still don't know what one is. They may or may not be aware of why their head is so screwy, but they may not know what makes that group a cult.

I spent a year after I left my cult convinced I was going to hell. I still believed what they told me, but knew I couldn't return. I didn't know why. I guess that little alarm in my head finally went off. A very old and very dear friend of mine finally told me what had happened to me, and how the bastards fucked with my head. Recovery was a slow, painful process, but I managed to drag two more people out with me, one of them my wife. I have to give her credit, I didn't think she was strong enough to leave. That gives me a final score of -2, or 2 depending on how you look at it. I never dragged anybody in, but I managed to drag a few out. One of the few positive things I can say about the whole crappy mess. I was able to do all of that because I took the time to find out what defines a cult and how they work. I needed to know how that had happened to me. I normally consider myself a relatively intelligent person.

Something odd happened after that. I had lost all desire to go to any church. I went to a few on my wife's request, but every time it just creeped me out, sort of like somebody trying to get on an airplane after surviving a crash. Eventually I admitted to myself that Christianity held nothing for me anymore. So I started looking.

I found Taoism. In all this time I've only scratched the surface of what's there. In true eastern fashion, it doesn't fit the western definition of a religion or a philosophy. It's somewhere in between. A lot of westerners have trouble with that, but it's part of what attracted me to it. It was also the first "religion" that I found that didn't condemn all the non-followers as heathen bastards going to hell. It actually validated other beliefs, and talked about how many don't understand their own religions.

If anybody understood the Christian bible, would there be (if I remember correctly) over 300 denominations of Christianity?

I wouldn't call myself a true Taoist, but that's where I look when I need a little spiritual guidance. It fits with my theory of the universe the closest.

Tao information, translation, screensavers & more

One of the more central ideas in Taoism is Wu-Wei. It's not an easy concept to explain, but nothing in Taoism is. The closest parallel in western thought is "Go with the Flow". One of my favorite books, The Tao of Winnie-the-Pooh uses Pooh bear to brilliantly explain this concept. It's Pooh's uncanny knack for just letting things happen and always ending up on top that shows the idea the best.

In my life I have an example, and it's very recent. This is kind of surprising because I haven't been practicing these ideas lately, but I think that I should. It involves going to what I would consider one of my top 5 perfect jobs, and it just sort of happened. My entire life, whenever something bad seemed to be happening, I would let it work itself out, and I always ended up better off than I was before. That's Wu-Wei. I suppose I've always been a kind of Taoist, I just didn't know it.

I needed to remind myself of that today. I don't have enough time now to explain why, but it got the job done all the same. Who knows, maybe what I've written here will help somebody. Maybe not. It's all the same.

Anyway, another important part of Taoism is getting proper rest, so I'm going to bed.


Restored Comments

tao said:

All judgement is immoral and all effort to change somebody is destructive and violent. And that's what cults and churches have been doing up to now. That's why Lao Tzu is incomparable, unique, unsurpassed before and after. His vision is the ultimate vision of spontaneity, suchness, nature. If you understand him your life will start moving in a totally different rhythm. You will become a non-interference, WU-WEI. And only when you don't interfere in another's life do you respect life that's what reverence of life is all about.

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