I have been enamored with the Tao, without knowing it as such, since early childhood. Often, as a young boy, I would sit in the bushes in my yard, stare at the moon and clouds and sing songs to the flowers for hours on end. My young mind would fill and then empty with all kinds of thoughts and thinking. I got into the habit of watching my thoughts come and go, like the clouds. Each month, I would watch the moon grow and die, and felt there was magic in her path and knew that just “being” with her was healing. No one taught me this, it just happened naturally, as I hung out spending way too much time (according to the ethic of the day) doing absolutely nothing.
As a young adult I began to read and study everything I could on Taoism, wisdom traditions, metaphysics, natural healing, sacred spirituality and of course acupuncture, Chinese medicine and the extraordinary vessels. Thirty six years ago I became an acupuncturist. As a young acupuncturist, I relied on what I had read and been taught by my teachers. After several years I began introducing some of the wisdom I gathered from my study of the extraordinary vessels into my professional practice. I also began an earnest personal exploration and cultivation of the Tao and the extraordinary vessels.
After what seemed then like a very long time the “written-centric” way no longer worked for me. I still found tremendous beauty, power, and wisdom in the written word, the great wisdom of those who had travelled these roads before me. But, my explorations of the extraordinary vessels and my direct immersion into the limitless depths of the Tao began demanding something very different from me. Increasingly, I found myself absorbed and returning to my childhood path of just hanging out. A path looking inward and outward with an empty mind and loving heart. A path abundant with internal processing and external discernment. A path that led to the dissolving of dogma and the embracing of the essential mystery of the Way.
I now spend many hours daily (the early morning hours before sunrise) in personal cultivation and many more hours weekly cultivating my relationship to the world; as a family member, friend, member of society and as part of my professional acupuncture practice and teaching. In the early years I was hesitant to “go out on a limb” clinging to the traditional texts and rudimentary teachings that I had been blessed with from masters of the Way. In more recent years, as I grew older and much deeper in my process, I started taking more teaching risks, allowing my inner insights, realizations, and inspiration to lead the way.
I believe, after all these years, my relationship to this path has evolved and developed and deepened. I have been blessed with directly witnessing other individuals and groups of individuals directly experiencing the Tao. Directly experiencing the essential mystery which is the heart and womb of existence. Directly experiencing the ten thousands things and the no thing which are the Way.
Experiencing any “thing” or “no thing” directly is profound and humbling beyond words. Navigating the Tao, it turns out is simple. The Way is simple. Dissolving our old, complicated and habituated patterns of the mind and body; moving through and beyond the ever increasing distractions of the unnatural, modern world; accepting and letting go of all that we do not need; these things are not necessarily easy. Just simple.
Simple as in, simply thinking, simply imagining, simply sensing, simply processing emotions, simply moving the body and simply connecting to the breath with simple awareness and simple gratitude and simple grace.
Simple as simply emptying oneself of one’s self and simply immersing directly into the simple pulse of the simple cosmos as it manifests simply within us and around us.