I feel the hardest thing about the Taoist path is the balance of the overall long-term practice.
For many people, after a period a Taoist lifestyle can seem to be boring, monotonous or even at times pointless. (Anyone who feels this way, in reflection, feels that way about their own life. They’re looking for practices to spice their life up.) This isn’t a problem from Taoist practice but rather it’s an issue of deciding what practices you choose to fulfill your empty-space.
I can compare Taoism to jogging. On the surface I find the activity of jogging to be very boring. I don’t enjoy pounding the crap out of my knees, and I don’t enjoy running. I am rarely in a rush to get anywhere.
But jogging isn’t boring, and it’s not about a rush to get somewhere.
Boring is merely a matter of perspective.
It’s a matter of pacing yourself for the distance.
Taoism is a practice geared for your entire life. You don’t run full speed expecting to find all the mysteries of life in the first few days. Taoism teaches a person to pace their exploration, discovery and wandering to cover the path of an entire lifetime.
So many get excited when first learning Taoism, only to lose focus over time. They put all their energy into the focus of achieving the results they desire in the now: seemingly in the fewest possible actions.
I’m careful about which students I take when teaching Taoism. Not everyone is at a point in their life where their perspective is ready to pace out the practices. As a result as a Taoist teacher, I have learned to teach different aspects of the practice to fit the person relative to where they are in life.
My goal is always trying to help a person find a sustainable set of practices. So the key to a long-term Taoist practice is not about focus, it’s about living. Consider Taoist practice is like jogging when one lets go of actually running to instead give in to the movement, to run the distance. Then in time a person also discovers to relax and just take it all in, to watch life, to watch the run through the trail.
In Taoism, people place all that energy initially into exploring, and then lose their intensity after finding answers just don’t pop up as they would like. The answers are all there. You just have to run the distance.
People want shortcuts.
Taoism does teach many shortcuts, but the shortcuts aren’t one of time, they are of perception. Taoism provides the tools of acceptance, so it’s possible to settle down and enjoy the run.
Taoism shows a person to take care of mind, body, and spirit, so it’s possible to run the distance. Taoism teaches to drop expectations so a practitioner can have the patience to complete life: to discover it’s about yourself rather than answers. Taoism also teaches that you will embrace many practices over time, to match shifting needs.
Taoism is never boring; it’s your life.
It’s just a question of how we choose to jog through that life.