Alan Watts — noted author and respected authority on Far Eastern thought — studied Taoism extensively, and in his final years moved to a quiet cabin in the mountains and dedicated himself almost exclusively to meditating and writing on the Tao. This new book gives us an opportunity to not only understand the concept of the Tao but to experience the Tao as a personal practice of liberation from the limitations imposed by the common beliefs within our culture. The philosophy of the Tao offers a way to understand the value of ourselves as free-willed individuals enfolded within the ever-changing patterns of nature.
The path of the Tao is perhaps the most puzzling way of liberation to come to us from the Far East in the last century. It is both practical and esoteric, and it has a surprisingly comfortable quality of thought that is often overlooked by Western readers who never venture beyond the unfamiliar quality of the word Tao (pronounced “dow”). But those who do soon discover a way of understanding and living with the world that has profound implications for us today in so-called modern societies.
The word Tao means the Way — in the sense of a path, a way to go — but it also means nature, in the sense of one’s true nature, and the nature of the universe. Often described as the philosophy of nature, we find the origins of Taoism in the shamanic world of pre-Dynastic China. Living close to the earth, one sees the wisdom of not interfering, and letting things go their way. It is the wisdom of swimming with the current, splitting wood along the grain, and seeking to understand human nature instead of changing it. Every creature finds it’s way according to the laws of nature, and each of us has our own inner path — or Tao.