Spiritual Connection

XINING, CHINA – OCTOBER 14: (CHINA OUT) A Taoist nun walks at the Beichan Temple on October 14, 2005 in Xining of Qinghai Province, China. Beichan Temple, also known as North Hill Temple, is one of the most famous Taoist sacred centers in Qinghai Province. Beichan Temple was first built during the Northern Wei period (386-534), topping dangerous rocks and bottoming a deep valley on the North Hill. The temple is renowned for its grottoes, caves and unique architecture of the ancient buildings. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

Spiritual Connection

If we think of a way of living that is spiritually connected with nature, what would that look like? Some things that come to mind are a schedule of getting up when the sun rises, going to bed (or at least putting our work aside) when the sun goes down. We might plant in our gardens in the spring, tend to the garden and collect food in the summertime, further harvest in the fall, and store food for periods of inactivity in the wintertime. Perhaps we would save rainwater, minimize energy use, and find renewable sources.  

Next, if we think of a hustling and bustling city life, what comes to mind? I think of long urban hikes from 125th street to the Lower East Side in Manhattan; drinking coffee and staying up late into the night, stimulating music, movies, and many kinds of food in one day. Airports, train stations, around the clock electricity, and clean water piped in from miles away. I also think of learning, unlimited interaction, new perspectives, and nearly any activity for which I’m curious.

Now I’ll ask: Does spiritual connection happen more easily in the city or in the rural environment? Is there such a thing as an urban Taoist? Or a worldly country Taoist? My answer to these questions is: “sure.” Connecting with the Earth, nature, the Tao, the nameless essence that animates everything is possible anywhere. When I first got into tai chi, reiki, chi kung, and yoga, it seemed like I might need to turn my back on my studies, my family and move far away to follow wherever ‘people’ were on a spiritual path. Twenty years later, it seems that if I can’t connect to the present moment during work, on the road, on vacation, at breakfast, then I’m not going to find it far away.

The Taoist practices and philosophies on this blog seem to resonate with people in London, Iran, Austin, Texas, Pakistan, Kentucky, Romania, Roma, etc. We can turn inside anywhere. We can help our neighbor in a city or if birds and beasts are our only neighbor. We can move, stretch, breathe, sit, and practice longevity; anywhere from Yale to jail or Rikers Island to the Cayman Islands. Even a white guy from rural Indiana can use ancient knowledge from China to become himself. And that is why I love Taoism: it is accessible to everyone, everywhere.

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