August 15, 2009

The water way

The theme at Goat Rope lately is books, specifically the 10 books that had the biggest impact on me at different points in my life (whether I liked them at the time or not), starting from the beginning.

Here's the rundown so far: 1. The Bible; 2. The Book of Common Prayer; 3. Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe; 4. The Lord of the Rings. Next up is...

5. The Tao Te Ching. I come by an interest in things Chinese honestly. My grandfather lived there for years and my father was born there. I grew up around artifacts of that visit, including a bronze Buddha still in my possession.

My fascination only increased when I became interested in martial arts as a kid but we were pretty poor. That mean we couldn't afford pricey tae kwon do schools that charged an arm and a leg and taught impractical techniques. I guess poverty has its good points.

It was a few years before we found a traditional Japanese style dojo, but in the meantime I read everything I could get my hands on about it, including the religions and philosophies that influenced the arts, which is where I first learned about Taoism.

I can't remember how old I was when I got my first copy of the Tao Te Ching, a classic attributed to Lao Tzu a few centuries before Christ but that one stuck. I've written about it often here (search box in upper left corner for more) and can't say enough. It is by far the wisest and most practical book I've ever read and one that I wish everyone interested in making the world a little less nasty would check out.

1 comment:

The Rambling Taoist said...

I obviously didn't read it for the first time as early as you! In fact, I don't know if I ever had heard the word Taoism before I turned 40. That said, I agree that it's one of the best books ever written. :)