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Taking It Home, Workshop 8: Taoism

In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program

Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel,

but it is the center hole

that allows the wheel to function.

We mold clay into a pot,

but it is the emptiness inside

that makes the vessel useful.

We fashion wood for a house,

but it is the emptiness inside

that makes it livable.

We work with the substantial,

but the emptiness is what we use. — Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

IN TODAY'S WORKSHOP... we discussed Taoism and the concepts of simplicity, spontaneity, a realistic understanding of your world, being present, "going with the flow," being peaceful within ourselves, and having a peaceful influence on our world.

REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  • Is your family's cup full to overflowing?
  • Is there a tendency to be so busy, so involved and preoccupied and full of thoughts, day in and day out, that there is little room for new thoughts, or even for appreciating what you have right now?
  • In our relentless busy-ness, what are the implications for individual growth, understanding, and peacefulness? What about the implications for families? For our faith community?

EXPLORE THE TOPICS WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Lao Tzu (570-490 BCE), author of the Tao Te Ching, wrote:

If there would be peace in the world,

There must be peace among nations.

If there would be peace among nations,

There must be peace in the cities.

If there would be peace in the cities,

There must be peace among neighbors.

If there would be peace among neighbors,

There must be peace in the home.

If there would be peace in the home,

There must be peace in the heart.

Read this quote to some of your family members and friends. Do they agree with it? Do you? If this quote is true, and there must be peace in individuals' hearts before there can be lasting peace among people, how is the individual's peace to be nourished? What small changes can we make to feel more peaceful in our lives?

Here are some activities you might try:

  • Do One Thing at a Time. This activity nurtures peace in the heart. We multitask habitually, doing and thinking about many things at once. This might be efficient, but it is definitely scattering and can feed our anxiety. Instead, make the effort, at least once a day, to do only one thing at a time: Do the dishes without thinking about the day's To Do list. Brush your teeth without thinking about where your shoes are. You may find this new approach to be significantly more peaceful.
  • Make Space for Peace. To help create peace at home, together with your family or friends, plan a moment of peace in your week, where you deepen your connection to each other, appreciate things as they are, and just slow everything down for a bit. Whether you do it with many people or just two, structure into your week a peaceful time together—of silence, a quiet walk, sitting and reading a bit of the Tao Te Ching or some other meditative work and talking or just thinking about it together, a shared meal when you can set everything else aside—a time when you can just be together.
  • Practice Feng Shui. This Taoist practice (pronounced fung SHWAY) is translated as "the way of the wind and the water." It means to bring harmony to your surroundings through a balanced, intentional use of space and materials, which will contribute to peace in the home. Visit LifeScript to read "Seven Tips from a Feng Shui Expert" and learn some Feng Shui basics for Western living. To maximize positive energy flow and create a peaceful environment, rearrange your bedroom, or enlist family members and collaboratively make some changes in your home.
  • Stop Wanting, Just for a Minute. Plan with a friend or family member to make a regular practice of intentionally setting aside desires, ambitions, and aversions for a brief time, at the same time every day, even if it's literally just for a minute. (It may sound strange, but try setting a timer!) Then schedule a time to compare notes: How did it feel to release those feelings? Was it hard—or even possible? Was it weird? Did you feel more peaceful and more relaxed afterward? If so, did that feeling last?
  • Say "You May Be Right." This activity nurtures peace. When you find yourself in a disagreement with someone, make the effort to really listen to their point of view. Then, before voicing your own, tell them, "You may be right"—and believe it. Authentically recognize that there are always aspects to someone else's point of view or experience that we cannot understand.
  • Strive for Peace. Research organizations on the Internet which build peace in cities, our nation, and the world. (A good list can be found at Love Earth Network.) Identify one that supports an aspect of peace-building that is especially meaningful to you, for example, animal rights, poverty programs, or peace in the Middle East. Participate in the work of that organization, whether by writing letters, sending money, joining a march, organizing a demonstration or email campaign, or doing something else entirely. Involve friends and family if you can, to maximize your impact.

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 29, 2014.

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