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Steps to the Tao?

Short commentary on mistaken Taoism for New Age's natural philosophy

Someone asked about the first step to take to the Taoism teachings. It happened on a site where people meet to talk about Taoism and Tao issues.

The answer was short and straight: First step [my emphasis] is to take some time and just wander a river or a walk in nature to just be aware of what is around you. Understand not by knowledge but rather through connection who you are and how you are connected to what is around you...

Let me conclude: one should just wander and try to understand through connection what is around and who is he, and how he connects to the surroundings. This would be the first step. Seemingly there are moreā€¦

I am not sure from where the adviser took this teaching. What is sure is there are no such teachings in Taoist tradition because nobody there is interested in the connection with the surroundings and the knowledge of himself. Taoism means finding the connection with Tao and mainly following the Tao. There are also some techniques to maintain the inner balance but nothing of the kind described above.

Wandering and seeing the connection with the surroundings is a relic of the Western romantic era mingled with the New Age natural philosophy. But this has nothing to do with Taoism, at least with Taoism preached by Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu.

Still which is the first step?

There are no steps leading to the Tao. Tao is self-evident. We read in Tao-te ching about this:

    The great Tao (or way) is very level and easy; but people love the
    by-ways.
    (James Legge, Chapter 53).

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Paper by Jhian
Quotation from personaltao.

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