The Frey and The Tao

January’s been an interesting month for me. With all the bad weather and dark evenings, reading and thinking have been my main activities and led me to some really interesting books exploring things I’d never thought about before. These books and thoughts are the topic of this post and the next one. I hope they don’t come across too pretentiously – it’s all written with genuine curiosity, rather than any desire to be seen as a philosopher/hippy/counsellor/academic.

It all started with James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. I read it over Christmas and was bowled over by the story of a guy with a serious addiction problem who manages to set himself free by disassociating his real self from his problems. Simple as this sounds, it isn’t and the book explores how he battles with himself to overcome his constant desire to excessively consume alcohol and drugs, which means he has to obliterate the ‘self’ he’s created, lived with and fueled for the past twenty years.

One of his best tools in doing this is The Tao, an eastern philosophical text which helps him realise that there is something, a nameless, formless thing, beyond his problems and his apparent identity that he is a part of. This is not religious – he doesn’t believe in God.

I know that is a poorly summed up insight into what is a mind-blowing book but it got me thinking and I bought a copy of The Tao, which, although somewhat mental, is very powerful. When I can actually understand what it is going on about (sometimes the analogies escape me), I find it really soothing and perceptive, with advice such as:

“Live in a good place
Keep your mind deep.
Treat others well.
Stand by your word.
Make fair rules.
Do the right thing.
Work when it’s time.
Only do not contend,
And you will not go wrong.”

Its timelessness and simple way of phrasing universal truths intrigued me.
Thinking about how things are connected, old and new, inside and outside, present and past and intrigued by applying the idea of connection to my life, I decided I wanted to learn a bit more about spirituality, something I’d rarely bothered considering before. My friend Anna recommended “The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle” and that’s the subject of the next post.

February 7, 2010. Tags: , . books.

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