A Personal Tao is a Taoist book about living in the modern world. It’s about how to apply Taoist ideals simply and modestly one day at a time. It’s also my personal biography about finding my place within a society that rejects the practices of living to kindness.
Living as a Taoist in western society isn’t easy. Modern society is almost the opposite of Taoism. The American dream is about consumerism. The modern consumer culture is unkind, judgmental and all about living in excess. This book of Taoism is also my story on finding a balance between Taoism and Western Society. You will discover my initial proactive steps to crystalized an approach of living where kindness could weather the challenges of capitalism.
As a Taoist, I always stood out quietly, with kindness, living uniquely in my own story, refusing to be defined by cultural norms. Not every Taoist will agree with my path or my interpretation which is great. The Tao is undefined and unique for each person. In part, I wrote this book to put into words my active practice. In part, I wrote the book to help show others angles in how to change their path in life.
For the reader it isn’t about what my path was about, the book is written to help give you clues on how to make your path, yours.
Becuase the site is A Personal Tao, you will find the chapters embedded across various site pages. You may find a book page in the poetry section and another as a blog page. At times a page will be hidden as a small subsection of a larger page. Just because I finished the book in 2005 didn’t mean I stopped writing a Personal Tao. The book was the seed that the site grew out of in reality. The site begins where the book left off and I have merged the two into one to represent that truth.
This means each book page will lead to additional topics and ideas, beyond what I imagined in 2005.
Within Tao there are no distinctions everything is of Tao.
Reading A Personal Tao
The Personal Tao book isn’t a mass-market self-help book, rather it’s art, to enjoy in the same manner you would sit next to a river to just watch the water passing by. This book was my processing my midlife crisis into transformation experience.
Imagine sitting down, beside an old maple tree. Close the eyes. Feel dappled sunlight dancing on skin, Leaves eclipse stray beams as shadows tango to the light across the body. Listen to leaves whisper joy as the wind tussles them into the air. Smile as branches complain in creaking strains as younger leaves bounce in play.
As a Biography
I share my life in this book. Moments spent under a maple tree, at the beach with my son, snapshots from my life and much more. This isn’t a western or normal Biography. I share more of my life than you will realize, yet I do so to help teach about life. My goal is to help you discover Tao directly within how you experience your stories in living. Tao is never defined by words; it’s embraced by how you live. The goal isn’t to reflect on the past nor accomplishments; instead, I’m sharing my experiences to help teach about spirit.
In the larger sense, these teachings are to free a person. Freedom could be discovered sitting under a tree or even flying under the moon.
A truth about the nature of freedom: once you experience freedom, part of the very experience is to share and pass it along to others in your life.
Freedom is to be shared if it’s to be had at all.
The Personal Tao books are written with this in mind, to share and to help each person describe their freedom with their actions.
Please add your questions or comments regarding the Personal Tao Book below.
Lessons Learned As an Author
Here are a few quick lessons I learned from being an author.
Writing for Your Audience
Authors often get caught up in their writing. It’s an easy trap to get caught in the details of the writing and forget the purpose.
When writing it must be considered how does the writing connect to the audience. This leads to a more critical question of (1): Who is the audience?
This is important, so it can be written in a way to be understood by the target audience.
What is equally of importance is (2) How the tale, story, subject connects to your path: how well does it help you to move forward with your own life?
Where most authors fail is they unconsciously merge (1) and (2). Most authors write for an audience of 1: themselves
This is where larger problems creep in since often the author adds in the hope of making money or changing another person’s life or a dozen other things, which end up getting ignored when the author forgets the audience viewpoint, needs or expectations.
This often sets writers up for a negative feedback loop of self-worth: when other’s don’t value the effort as much as they do.
Of course this can be applied to many things not just writing.
Remember all actions and writings must balance out personal needs to the needs of others. This is a fine balancing act. But if you remember both sides, often it makes the final result much better.
I see some authors and bloggers fall into this trap, reaching out to be helpful but due to poor response, internalizing it as a negative statement on their worth.
- To balance out the needs of your audience so you can take care of your own needs in the effort.
- Not to place extra expectations for your effort. If you act from your heart, then keep the expectations to be based on your heart and not tied to the whims of another heart. If you create for another person’s heart, then do so for that person’s heart and expectations! This last statement is deeper than might be guessed, as soon as we mention heart, it becomes personal and hard to untangle from the need to connect out more largely. This is because the heart is about connection.
For this reason, I never review other people’s poetry or work. It isn’t for me to be critical of their heart but rather to just accept their heart as they present it.
Publishing a Book
A Personal Tao is different enough that it will be hard to find a publisher. Publishers want a product which will sell. The mass market never wants to risk something new; it desires to follow safe and pre-defined trends. I have only submitted the book to two publishers. One publisher has sent me this feedback after I asked their opinion:
I recall the book being very unique and rather nonlinear in its narrative construction. From an aesthetic perspective, it was beautiful. Filled with solid wisdom. From a for-profit publisher’s perspective, it would not fit into either the square nor the round hole of trade publishing, so you may have a hard time finding a traditional publisher to publish it in its current incarnation.
Heh! A Personal Tao is most assuredly not about trends or following the leader; it’s about following yourself. I gifted the book and worked away for free from day one on purpose. Also: I know in the end we don’t save the world. So I am not writing for some larger noble purpose. It might have started that way, years ago, with a desire to help make the world a better place. I wouldn’t mind helping to make the world nicer, but I already do that just by being kind and living as myself…
The world is the world and will turn and tumble about thru space without my assistance.
It’s so much easier just not to write and craft and interact. Also, as my meditation practice is going ever deeper, I have less and less desire to interact really, and I already was a hermit.
So in all seriousness, this is a mirror. I have always used this site and the book as a deep reflecting pool. Publishing a book like A Personal Tao is more of an exercise to understand how I fit into the mainstream culture.
We as humans so love to lie to ourselves: in thoughts, in whimsy, in daydreams. So instead, I just have learned to write aloud my actions and reflections as a way to not lie to myself.
Ever do yoga? When you do a pose, you feel like you are a certain way, but in reality you are doing something different. It’s the same for our spiritual practice. We might think we are doing well, but in our actions we are not what we think we are.
I write and will continue in talking to others, and until I die, I will polish and add and tweak A Personal Tao… Simply because: It helps me connect and see the world as I live it.
And someday who knows which of my paths I will embrace in this expression of life, so many options are available! Until then and even after then, I will follow the heart and refine, define and keep getting better at the practice and the crafting of words. Very much a tidal process back and forth.
In time publishing a book like A Personal Tao will happen, or it will grow into something new (in the form of this site), what’s a few years or decades here or there on a journey?
Pushing Your Writing
I have been quiet of late. Not for lack of materials. I have accumulated enough materials to write several books over. Now my pen sits silently on the desk. The desire to scribble down notes, not to the foremost of my life.
Nope, it is important to just be present in my life. The quill is not dipped to ink; rather, blood is with what I write. My feet scribe out notes in steps of living.
People seek answers outside of life, read books from people who seem to have answers, to retread soles and souls both. To lead a life ahead with wisdom that seemingly lights the way ahead more safely.
Let your answers be of life. Be prepared not to move ahead by wisdom or advice on how others found a path instead: Dare to be true to life, to take the time to be alive by being alive.
The time to ink manuscript or blog entries is when pausing life. Right now I am running in life, flying kites, chasing the wind, and leaping ahead to living.
In a rush to facebook, blog, video, snapshot, twitter life, a person ironically actually can miss a significant portion of that very life which we have to be active in to live. Let the calluses on my feet be my tweets, as the electronic age becomes less than dust. Life is already eternal in the living.
Personal Tao Book – Audio Version
Each month I am recording 2 to 3 chapters of the Personal Tao Book. The audiobook will be available to our 5.00 Patrons.
Chapters Currently Recorded: