Today’s Taoist Question with a Zen Twist

Is it ok to just go with the flow?

Am I giving myself more work or a hard time by picking a concrete direction in order to make life a little more digestible?

Tao - Yin Yang of Life

Go With the Flow

To go with the flow can make things easier, especially in the short term. However, for the long-term sometimes “go with the flow” choices may not get a person to higher points of their life, which require extra work/awareness to achieve. Yes, at times a person might want to climb a mountain or have to swim upstream against some flows. Of course, there are also times we have to move crosswise to rip tides to survive and thrive in your nature.

In other words: there isn’t a single flow around us, but many different currents and possibilities to follow.

Which one is best? No one is best, they are all different and offer various options in life. Understand certain paths are more “Graceful“.

At times we do make hard choices to go counter to the flow of life around us.

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In this, it’s important to trust your inner instincts to differentiate between following your flow compared to the flows around your life. In Taoism, we teach a person how to refine the ability called the “third eye”. The third eye represents the ability to sense and feel potential around you. Awareness of potentials allows a person to more clearly sort out which flows can assist your life to become more graceful and which currents sweep you away from your essence.

Choosing direction in life is more of an art than a science. When people make choosing life paths a science, they make life predictable and repeatable. Flow often means following examples of others as guides. Yet following others is disadvantageous as it promotes living the same old life, without freshness. However, society pushes people down predictable paths, as a predictable way reinforces the repeatable patterns that support society itself.

The real choice becomes: Are you making life… your own?

Many people just stay down a comfortable course to reduce conflict. If you go with the social flow, you also reduce the social conflict you will encounter. However, this often increases the inner conflict a person feels by going further away from their center. Likewise, to become your person entirely increases the chances of facing social conflict against others who want to shape your life to make their life more comfortable.

Going with the flow is a deep part of Taoism. A Taoist moves with the flow using a deep awareness of all the flows around us.

You have many choices on which flow to work with in life.

A Taoist won’t hesitate to follow a graceful path even if it’s harder or longer path. Our choices are those that fully expand a life, as our own story. Understand there isn’t a single path that defines us perfectly, more to say, we always go with the flow that allows us to live completely.

Now the Zen Twist

In Zen, the twist is this: you always flow to release.

In Zen practice this means, you work with the flows which are a step under the flows around you.

Ultimately, flowing in a manner that releases all flows.

How do I Find Direction for my Flow?

I was also asked for an answer regarding how to finding direction within one’s practices. I considered this very seriously and realized in the manner the question was presented to me, as a teacher I thought was too open ended for a response. So before answering this question, I rephrased it and asked back:

If you had to ask for an answer for anything in the world, Any one answer. I mean if you could only get a single answer back from me. What answer would you want to be given as a gift?

Here is a starter list, typical answers people spend a lifetime for. Very seriously ponder the list carefully

  • The easy answer
  • The hard answer
  • The answer most people expect
  • The answer most people desire
  • The answer that is the closest to a truth you can have
  • The answer that will hurt
  • The answer that will heal
  • Something to make you laugh
  • The answer that will have only made sense yesterday
  • The answer that will only make sense tomorrow
  • The answer that will not make sense until six months from now
  • The answer that will not make sense until one year from now
  • The answer that will not make sense until ten years from now
  • The answer that only makes sense after you fully live your life
  • The answer that will make you wise
  • Something to make you seem wise
  • The answer others will want to see in you
  • What you want others to see in you
  • Where to find Taoist sages or monks or a teacher
  • What cardinal direction of the compass to head
  • How to resolve a burning desire
  • How to solve all problems
  • The answer! Or any answer, I missed on this list. Please fill in the blank.

So many answers, 10,000 different answers all equally valid from different perspectives. Which one is it you truly seek?

The one pre-consideration given for this task is to ponder how the answer reflects the emptiness you feel inside right now. After all answers, by definition, fill in space. First, you take a second to understand why you are seeking the answer before asking for an answer.

The answer people seek is usually an answer to reflect a seemingly missing part of our inner nature.

Think about this for a moment, since this how every epic tales begin: seeking an answer for an issue to overcome. So pick the answer wisely to help frame the journey better to be more fulfilling to your inner nature.

What answer would you pick as a peach or have answered from the Muses, Norns or Soothsayer if you had a chance to journey into your heart’s desire and to resolve one answer?

The truth is no answer matters unless you leap into to it and meander to where it may…

This is flow.

Without flow, you will not find any answer to live against.

The Flow of Life

A rabbit’s final hop is imprinted into the snow as an owl swoops in for its next meal.

I love seeing the flow of life. Animals flow to their instincts, and humans follow their stories.

This is why most humans only see thru their stories, blinded by only major plot points rather than seeing the active flow of life always around us.

Just as you can see the flow of life left behind in the snow here, if you open your senses, pause in awareness, you can discover the full flow of life and all the curling wisps of actions and what might be and what was… at once.

I do teach this to those who want to learn about living in potential. Once you learn to see the flow of life, you realize most people only see in black & white versus the full color of living in the vibrant world around us.

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The wisdom of the woodcarver….from a mere piece of wood emerges a masterpiece…nothing added but many taken out. The essence of my own personal Tao is ” i am complete, i am my tao, i am my universe. i have noting to seek outside, but i have to cultivate to the deepest part of my heart to find my own true self…so deep bigger that the the physical world. i do not wish for a third eye to see and use for the outside world for i already have two of them. But i wish for a an inner eye… Read more »

Surrender is the easiest way to achieve Tao. When the ego drops another dimension rises that offers a deeper sense of peace and connection: to die and be reborn opens the self to an expansive sense of love and unity. Our bodies house a soul or life force that remains or returns to source when we die to generate life for someone or something else. An individual is a blink in eternity and yet part of the whole process of life.

There’s so much social engineering in the mass media that is fed to kids at such an early age, that a lot of time is spent trying to figure out the “I” underneath the social engineered “I”.

Fantastic blog, thank you.
Isnt the flow sometimes confused by comformity, egoism? Where is hidden behind the excuse for not “doing” things? If it doesnt “feel”, or it doesnt “flow” then i dont do it, i dont fight, i dont work at it? I think that following the flow can be misunderstood as avoiding conflict, and go where it flows without purpose or effort to achieve a higher purpose or doing any effort? Isnt it subject to be interpreted as a very selfish and lack of effort, lack of drive and purpose?

Great post it really connected with me. When wrapping up my 12 years of schooling, I’m beginning to realize that I never really knew my true essence, (nor do I now know it fully but it’s like it’s slowing coming out of the fog) but I’ve been so caught in getting good grades(top of class)and have been so focused on that and what society says is good hard work that I’ve never really connected to my own essence(except when on hikes and in nature). While I’ll still get good grades in college, I think I’ll spend more time enjoying the… Read more »

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