Do you know what has turned me off and away from Taoism, Zen, and Eastern Philosophy in general?
It is primarily due to its devaluation of morality, individuality, and worldliness.
As I understand it, both Taoism and Zen are essentially hermit's philosophies, religions of retirement and inner retreat, more suited to people having very little interest in participating in the outer affairs of the world, in changing society or making the world a better place. While they may advocate kindness and compassion and humility, both are essentially about non-attachment, disengagement, non-participation, and retreat from the outer world of the senses. Each recognizes and advocates the belief that one cannot really change the world or anyone else in it, one can only change oneself, by changing one's own perception of oneself in relation to the world you live in.
But it is possible to influence others, to have an impact on the lives of others, to band together and collaboratively alter the outcome of events; feeding the hungry, sheltering the weak, sharing knowledge and teaching skills, all help improve the quality of life. So, by directly influencing the lives of others, how then could the world NOT be changed by these individual influences?
What is change? A specific action causing a specific effect, that alters the landscape, making it different than what it was before. Cause and effect. If you keep doing the same things in the same ways, you will continue getting the same results. But if you alter your course, you will alter your destination, and if you change your methods you will change your results.
If you keep to yourself, do not talk to others, neither teach or preach, but just live your life quietly and unobtrusively in your own way, perhaps someone somewhere will take notice, and imitate what they see, learning from your example, and changing themselves in the process.
But whether you keep to yourself, or actively collaborate with others, one must never underestimate the importance of communication, that life is essentially all about communication. It is a fact of life, and avoiding the significance of this truth, is only done at your own peril. Communication is not just about the spoken or written word. Communication is not limited to words, to verbalized language or the rules of linguistics. Communication is a dance, an exchange of energies; when you breath you are having a conversation with the air; when you walk you are having a conversation with the earth; when you eat and drink, this too is a conversation between your body and the fuel that sustains you; everything is a conversation between life and death, transformation and sustenance.
I have no desire to lose my Ego, to merge with the infinity of Tao, of all that is, becoming completely selfless, at one with the entire undifferentiated ocean of being. What is wrong with individuality? What is wrong with wanting to remain in one form for as long as you wish, to retain your personality, your individual identity, your unique energetic signature of consciousness?
I often speak of wanting to live 1000 years or more, to become an immortal who retains this form, this identity named Cym, not forever, but for an extended period of time, for much longer than the normal human lifespan. And yet there are those who look upon this wish as being undesirable, as a symptom of the Ego clinging to itself, afraid to let go; a less evolved state of mind, an egocentric consciousness based on fear and insecurity, possessiveness and selfishness, and attachment to duality; dismissing the virtues of individuality and worldliness, as if it were something lesser than, inferior to. But why?
There are those who say that this attachment to the Ego, this clinging to forms, is not real, is an illusion, that what we believe to be our own unique identity is an illusion, that there really is no Self, that there really is no individual person, it is just a temporary role we each play, a mask we each wear over the course of our lifetime, but it is not really who you are, because we are all one and all there is is infinity. Non-Duality. Or so they say.
But what is wrong with Duality? Without duality, without two, how could you ever experience the love and beauty and truth of another being; without ugliness how could you ever appreciate beauty, without death how could you ever appreciate life? But, why must you die before you are ready to die? Why is it wrong to want to live 1000 years, to live in this world longer than is typical of our species? Why would anyone WANT to die? To die not only a physical death, but to annihilate all traces of self, all traces of identity, individuality, to lose all traces of their humanity? It's one thing if this is an inevitable reality that we each must face in our own time, but why would anyone actually seek it? What is so great about it, to favor the collective over the individual, if becoming everything means to become nothing? To lose yourself, in order to gain the entire world and all that ever was and ever will be into infinity, only to lose that too, and be left with absolutely nothing at all, an infinity of nothing.
Maybe that is okay for some, but as I said before, I find it to be completely unconstructive. Why would anyone want to become God, to become omniscient and omnipotent, to "return to the source", to have knowledge of all things, to be all things, and yet simultaneously nothing? Perhaps it is my ignorance speaking, it very well could be, but why would anyone want that? What is wrong with being an individual concerned with the matters of this world? Why is it considered a less evolved or smaller minded pursuit? Or am I just missing the point completely?
Even so, it is not my desire, at least not at this time. I want to live, fully, here in this world, for as long as possible, while attempting to change it for the better to the very best of my ability. Anyone who says it is a waste of time, that I am walking on a treadmill, fighting an uphill battle, going around in circles, getting nowhere, that I am seeking a mirage, clinging to a life which is ultimately an illusion: I say, FUCK YOU! You think you are already immortal eh, all there is is infinity eh, well why don't you just jump off a fucking bridge then, and see how immortal and infinite you find yourself to be then. No not really, please don't do that. I'm just being the difficult unevolved egotistical and selfish fallen angel that I am. But at least I'm honest about it.