Ron Gardner, compiler of an excellent spiritual reading list, just gave me some feedback about four Taoism books that I recommended to him.
I found his email so interesting, I wanted to share it. By "interesting," I don't mean that I understand it completely. But I get where he's coming from, to use a wonderfully imprecise '60s term.
It just isn't where I come from. Which is absolutely, completely, marvelously fine.
I can't tell you how many times I've said or written something that seemed to be so compelling, so inspiring, so truthful, so eloquent, that after my saying or writing had been communicated I sat back and waited for the applause to reverberate through my not-so-humble mind.
And I waited. And I waited some more.
Until I realized that my "Oh my god, this is so right!" was so wrong to my audience that they couldn't wait to get off this boring, confusing, inexplicable subject and start talking/reading about something a whole lot more interesting.
So I'm not surprised that the books I told Ron about elicited the reaction they did from him. I'm grateful, though, for his thoughtful response – which I've shared below.
I need to ponder my response to his response, which it's too late to do tonight. I will say, however, that I just opened up an issue of TIME magazine that came in the mail today.
A Toyota ad grabbed my attention. It shows a dirt road stretching into the distance between two fields. The headline says: "Can you have an impact by making none at all? Why not?"
They're talking about zero emissions from a car and zero waste from a manufacturing plant. But this also is a thoroughly Taoist spiritual sentiment.
Nothing, none, is one. Three…that's two more. Nothing wrong with a trinity, though. It' s just not one.
Here's Ron's message:
I checked out the four Taoism books you recommended, and none of them particularly impressed me. Just as I'm not a big fan of Zen, I'm also critical of Taoism. Why? Truth is a circuit--not unlike an electrical circuit.
An electrical circuit functions according to Ohm's law. That means it involves voltage (electro-magnetic force), amperage (current flow), and ohms (resistance), which, spiritually speaking, equates to conscious force, presence or pressure; reception or conductivity of the descending flow (Holy Spirit or shaktipat), and utter surrender or emptying, or non-resistance.
Taoism is all about non-resistance, or letting go--and if that is all you do spiritually, you'll lack the force, grounding and integration that holistic Enlightenment necessitates.
IMO, and based on my experience, real spiritual life is about the Trinity--Sat-Chit-Ananda (or Siva-Shakti-Narada) in Hinduism; the Trikaya (Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya) in Vajrayana Buddhism, and the Father-Son-Holy Ghost in Christianity.
Consequently, I really vibe with Kashmir Shaivism, Dzogchen, Mystical Christianity, and Daism. In Christian terms, real meditation is Holy Communion (or Awareness + Oneness, or Plugged-in Presence), reception of the Holy Spirtit (or Ghost) and poverty (or utter emptying, or unconditional surrender).
From a Hindu tantra perspective, the pressure of the presence (Siva) generates a downpouring spiritual power (or Shakti). When Siva (or Consciousness) and Shakti (or the Energy) unite into a permanent, single adamantine Intensity that always already outshines the meditator, that is spiritual Enlightenment.