Intellectually I knew that there were other religions and spiritual beliefs out there. Hey, the Bible told me there always had been! When I was 21 a girlfriend recommended I read the Tao of Pooh and it was a life changing experience.
Yes, Taoism is a religion and I can't say I've known anyone intimately that has practiced it I couldn't tell you one thunder god from another and don't ask me if there are any holidays to observe. What I do know is that reading the Tao Te Ching was a punch in the teeth to a white boy from Mormontown. If you've never read it before get yourself clicking here. It's free to download so no excuses. Ron Hogan's version isn't a literal translation, he's read several translations and produced the awesome modern Fight Club version of the text and that's why I recommend you start with that link. Tao is about rebellion and Tao is about making the old new so there is not a more Taoistic way to create a modern version than that.
Let me quote some of my favorite passages:
Do not glorify the achieversWhat does that mean? If you mess up your priorities you're going to mess up the whole system.
So the people will not squabble
Do not treasure goods that are hard to obtain
So the people will not become thieves
Do not show the desired things
So their hearts will not be confused
Heaven and Earth are impartialHow about that little verse. From what I've read straw dogs are little idols that were used during religious ceremonies. After the festival or ceremony was over you just have a big pile of straw. It means quit treating life so reverently, after we're done here we're just a pile of meat so treat every day as a sacred event while it lasts.
They regard myriad things as straw dogs
The sages are impartial
They regard people as straw dogs
True WordsWham bam internalize that my man. Just get out there and do stuff. Don't sit around thinking about it. You're going to make mistakes. Stop doing just what you know and realize that you're going to need to know a lot more to get anything worth doing done. Don't worry about helping other people, the more you help the more you're going to be rewarded.
True words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not truthful.
The good do not argue.
Those who argue are not good.
Those who know are not scholarly.
The scholarly do not know.
Whenever I feel less than centered or a little bit lost or lonely I reach for the nearest copy of the Tao Te Ching and it puts me right pretty quickly. It is the most life changing book I have read.