What is the Tao te Ching? Five hundred years before the birth of Jesus, a God-realized being named Lao-tzu in ancient China dictated 81 verses which are regarded by many as the ultimate commentary on the nature of existence. The classic text of these verses offers advice and guidance that is balanced, moral, spiritual, and always concerned with working for the good.
I was inspired to spend an entire year—my 65th year—reading, researching, and meditating on Lao-tzu’s messages, practicing them and ultimately writing down these insights as I felt Lao-tzu wanted us to know them.
My First Year Living the Tao
May 11, 2005
“I am in Florida, sitting in my blue chair meditating. I think about just having reread the Tao Te Ching, 81 short verses offering spiritual awakening to those who study and live by its teachings. The 2,500-year-old spiritual text was given to me by my friend Stuart Wilde more than a decade ago. I remember Stuart telling me how much wisdom is in that little book, and how he encouraged me to study it in depth, frequently telling me that this was the wisest book ever written. I come out of my deep meditation, and I know what I must do.
I recall how my wild and crazy mentor and friend Stuart once told me how he had left everything he owned behind just by closing the door and walking away from it. For years I thought of the paradox inherent in such a scene. Leaving everything seems so final, and besides there is such an attachment to a lifetime of accumulated stuff. On the other hand, there is such freedom in having nothing to hold one back—to move ahead unencumbered, to be as free as those birds I’m supposed to listen to now that I am of retirement age. I feel as if I am being directed to make this move to shed everything.
I pick up the phone and call my personal assistant, Maya, who has worked for and with me for over a quarter of a century. I tell her to drive over to my garden apartment, which has served as my office and writing space for almost three decades. As she walks up the sidewalk, I hand her the key and say, “I want you to get rid of everything I own, and then I want you to put this place up for sale.” Maya is in shock. She tries to talk sense into me, but I am adamant. I am letting go of all my attachments and heading to my writing space on Maui. I am being called to do something on the Tao te Ching. I’m not sure what, but I know I am being told to let go, and let God.
I walk away from everything. Maya is in charge of all of my stuff, and I am feeling an unbelievably strong sense of relief and just plain awe. I remember how I felt when Stuart told me how he had left everything behind—there was an excitement in the pit of my stomach, and here I am doing precisely the same thing.”
The result of that life-changing year was my best-selling book Change Your Thoughts—Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao.
In reflection and honor of the upcoming 10-year anniversary of my experience reflecting and walking the path of the Tao, I’ll be spending the coming year—my 75th—reflecting on all that I have learned from Lao-tzu and how his wisdom book has affected my life in the past decade. His lessons have helped me behave in less ego-directed ways, practice more selfless humility, live softer and with a kind of detached contentment. I learned the value of listening more and speaking less, and I notice nature’s inherent wisdom so much more.
I’m so excited that we’ll be meeting on Maui next January to talk about the message of the Tao for our contemporary world and the spiritual and emotional freedom a Tao-centered way of life offers. I hope that you, too, will feel joyously in love with Lao-tzu and his wondrous Tao, and that you’ll add your light and color to the Great Way. I offer you my love, along with my commitment to a Tao-centered world. I can think of no greater vision for you, for our planet, or for our universe.
I AM LIGHT,
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