Drs. Annellen and C. Alexander Simpkins live in San Diego and are both psychologists who have specialized in studies of the mind. They have a keen interest in Asian religions, which was revealed in their "Simple" series of books from Tuttle Publishing. With this paperback, they are starting a new series. Here are the essential teachings of Taoism in ten accessible lessons, along with exercises to use. The opening chapter is a terse historical overview of Taoism.
Attuning to your true nature is one of the basic features of this way of life modeled in the writings of Lao Tsu and others who came after him. What does this mean? The Simpkins write: "Taoists believe that each person has certain talents even though some people may not recognize what these talents are. Some people are very aware of what they excel in and express their talents from an early age, developing them to the fullest. They feel a deep inner satisfaction from following their inner nature." The authors offer exercises for developing your intuition and for discovering your natural talents.
Perhaps the most interesting chapter is on wu-wei, accomplishing more by doing less. Here the Taoists challenge us to give up all attempts to control the future or make things happen. As is written in the Tao Te Ching: "Tao invariably takes no action and / yet there is nothing left undone." This applies to intellectual endeavors as well. Relax, goes the message. The world will not be tamed by our ideas or notions. In a poem, C. Alexander Simpkins writes:
"If only human beings
did not need to always be right
Think of how seldom
people would fight.
We'd get along better
With a lot less defenses
And feel quite secure
without high walls and fences.
We'd accept each other more
and respect each other's needs
We'd feel our inner oneness
Beyond gender, race, age, or creed."
Some other essential elements of Taoism discussed here are activating your energy (chi), healthy living through Eastern medicine, enhancing your creativity, and following your dreams.