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Faith In Action: Simply Do It (20 minutes), Workshop 8: Taoism

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • Optional: Clean-up materials, including rubber or work gloves, trash bags, spray bottles, and/or rags (depending on the activity chosen)

Preparation for Activity

  • Decide where you will go and what you will do for the clean-up activity.

Description of Activity

Participants practice simplicity while doing a clean-up activity.

Say, in these words or your own:

We are now going to put our faith into action, a part of our faith that resonates with Taoism. This is an exercise in awareness, presence, spontaneity, and nonattachment. We have mentioned how Taoism and Unitarian Universalism are alike in requiring a great deal of their practitioners. One thing required by both that sounds so simple is presence—simply being aware of what is going on around you. Taoists need to be present and aware at all times to stay balanced and in harmony with the Tao. Awareness is a simple idea, but it requires constant effort to put into daily practice. We are going to make that effort today.

Ask participants to get into a comfortable position and close their eyes. Read the following to the group:

Start with the breath. Your breathing keeps your body alive and connects you with the air, the wind, the sky. Feel that easy, natural connection.

Give participants a moment to focus on their breathing. Continue:

Widen your awareness now; rise up through the air that you connect with in every breath—rise up, widen, and find that you are one with the sky. You are the wind, flowing through the treetops, swimming in the grass, blowing children's hair, stirring the flowers. Rush and ebb and flow. You are one with the wind.

Give participants a moment to focus on this imagery. Continue:

Whoosh! Whoosh down now, flow easily through the sky and across the earth and over the sea. Blow over the sea foam, brush ridges across the surface, feel at every moment your connection to the water.

Give participants a moment to focus on this imagery. Continue:

Move onto the very skin of the water now; move with it as you blow, become one with the water—wind and water, one. Now move into the water, the motion the same, only the cool medium is different, whooshing, swimming, stirring, flowing. Feel the flow around plant and sand bar, tiny pebble and glacier alike. There is no difference here. You are your body, you are the wind, you are the water—not separate, the same, flowing with the same motions, rising to the same urges, and sharing the dance of life.

Give participants a moment to focus on this imagery. Continue:

Return—gently—now, to awareness of your body, to this room. Here, there is peace. Outside our door, there is much to be done. There is always much to be done. But we know we can carry peace into the world by remembering—remembering that our breath, the wind, the water, the earth, all flow together.

Sometimes we choose the work that is to be done, and sometimes the work lets itself be known. We soon will venture out for the work, which will tell us what needs to be done. At the end of this meditation, we will rise and go together into our church grounds [or building]. We will move slowly, feeling our connection to the earth under our feet, the breath in our lungs, and the light to our eyes. We will see work—and we will simply do it. A picture will need straightening, a piece of trash will need throwing away, a person will need help. Simply do it. Nothing is too small. No discussion is necessary. Ask for help if you need it. No calling attention to yourself. No expecting praise or recognition—we will simply see something that needs doing, and do it.

Do not look for the next thing while you are doing this one—do only one thing at a time. Know that with your calm, and your presence, and your hands, doing one tiny thing at a time, you are bringing peace to your heart—and this is what will bring peace to the world.

Open your eyes now. We seek utter simplicity. Purity. As you do each thing, however small, keep your mind on it only. The acts themselves are meditation.

Stand and lead the group out of the room to the area or areas chosen for the activity. Keep the group's energy as calm and focused as possible.

Once the activity is completed, collect the participants and return to your room. Allow participants to sit in silence for a few minutes if they seem inclined to do so. Invite participants to share their reflections on the experience.

Including All Participants

Make sure the area you have chosen is accessible to all participants and that each participant will be able to perform a meaningful task.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

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