Taoism reflects nature; that is, Nature is viewed as one’s teacher and if you follow Her lead, things work out extremely well. Case in point – goal setting.
Historically, I have methodically written out goals in great deal, complete with specific numbers, percentages and precise plans from getting to Point B from Point A. It works many times, albeit with a tremendous amount of stress and angst attached to it, often making the results themselves seem quite anti-climactic. It was not so much a joy to achieve the goal as a deep-seated relief at not having to deal with them anymore. Not quite the jocular moment now is it.
Just as I was about to re-re-re do my goals (and thus test Einstein’s definition of insanity being doing the same thing and expecting different results), I notice a stream of recently fallen rain weaving itself into a mini river in the parking lot outside my gym. Regardless of what was in its way, the rain water continued to move in a natural direction, taking with it leaves or rocks that were in the way. Effortless effort or Wu Wei as it is known in Taoism.
So it dawned on me that goal setting was akin to attempting to redirect a majestic, flowing river instead of jumping in and going with the current. Goal setting acts like a dam, stopping the flow. We want XYZ and will force it, jam it, muscle, maneuver, manipulate or do whatever it takes to go in the direction we want. Mind you, not the direction that is best for us, nor in the direction that we are being led. No, that would be in our best interests.
Our Tao, our best direction in life is easy to feel but not always easy to follow. It comes to us in a subtle whisper or gentle nudge. Sometimes, we come across it in a book or an off the cuff remark from a friend. When we hear, see or feel the message, we know. The sensation lights up our bodies and Spirit like a Christmas tree. Our vision becomes extremely clear (even if only for the moment) and hearing as acute as an owl. For that moment, we have synced with our Best Self, our Higher Self.
We no longer need to ask for direction or guidance. Only the courage to do.
The courage to follow our Tao.
Dr. David Orman