Recently a colleague referred me to a blog post, turned book, called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Written in 2015 by Mark Manson, this thought experiment has garnered quite a bit of attention. I had previously heard of the book, and had actually put it on my Amazon.com wish-list. But I hadn’t really taken the time to do much research about it until now. I imagine you and I both immediately came to the wrong conclusion… Not giving a fuck isn’t about giving up on the world and drowning in a sea of apathetic pacifism. It’s about rising above the noise, and letting those who are in your way know that you will do whatever it takes, and that you simply don’t give a fuck what they have to say about that. Once I started reading the post, I started making some correlations to things I read many years ago. An ideology that many of you know I take to heart. Taoism – the ancient art of not giving a fuck.
So, Taoism – where do I begin? The Chinese practitioners of Taoism is the practice of “The Way”, it denotes the principles of the “Three Treasures”, Compassion, Frugality, and Humility. The Tao also teach of the Dynamic Balance of nature. The Yin and the Yang, the Sun and The Moon, Light and Dark, Chaos and Order. Everything finds balance. Another important principle of Taoism is Wu Wei, or effortless action. Wu Wei is a powerful concept that cultivates a state of being in which our actions are effortlessly put in alignment with the ebb and flow of the world around us. To simplify, think of it as “going with the flow”, but in practice it is much deeper than that. In short Taoism is all about finding our place with the cosmos, that our actions do no harm, and that we are spontaneously virtuous… Over simplified, I know.. But It’s the best I can do while keeping your attention. If you’re curious, go read this. It’s an excellent translation of the Tao Te Ching.
I can’t talk about Taoism without bringing up Dudeism. I am after-all an ordained Dudeist Priest. So, what is Dudeism? This should be a bit easier to describe… Dudeism is a modern philosophy and lifestyle heavily influenced by Taoism which removes the metaphysical and medical doctrines. Dudeism advocates going with the flow, and a perpetual mindset of taking it easy, to use the parlance of our times. Dudeists believe that is where true harmony lies. Fulfillment of your life comes from the enjoyment of drinking with your friends, bowling, and taking a long bath. These things a Dudeist prefers as opposed to the accumulation of wealth and things.
Fans of the Big Lebowski are not the only ones to not giving a fuck. As a matter of fact, 23 years prior to the founding of Dudeism, Benjamin Hoff wrote his first book on Taoism as it relates to the world of Winnie the Pooh. The Tao of Pooh is a primer for those seeking information on the Eastern religion of Taoism. In 1992 Hoff follow-up his book with a second, The Te of Piglet. Te or De is a key concept in Chinese philosophy, usually translated as “inner power” or “integrity”. In Confucianism this concept is more commonly translated as “virtue”. The Taoist concept of Virtue of the small is certainly portrayed well by someone as innocuous as Piglet.
The contented man can be happy with what appears to be useless. He can find worthwhile occupation in forests and mountains. He stays in a small cottage and associates with the simple. He would not exchange his worn clothes for the imperial robes, nor the load on his back for a four-horse carriage. He leaves the jade in the mountain and the pearls in the sea. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, he can be happy–he knows when to stop. He does not pick the brief-blossoming flower; he does not travel the dangerous road. To him, the ten thousand possessions are dust in the wind. He sings as he travels among the green mountains. He finds sheltering branches more comforting than red-gated mansions, the plow in his hands more rewarding than the prestige of titles and banners, fresh mountain water more satisfying than the feasts of the wealthy. He acts in true freedom. What can competition for honors mean to him? What attraction can anxiety and greed possibly hold? Through simplicity he has Tao, and from Tao, everything. He sees the light in the “darkness,” the clear in the “cloudy,” the speed in the “slowness, the full in the “empty.” The cook creating a meal with his own hands has as much honor in his eyes as a famous singer or high official. He has no profits to gain, no salary to lose; no applause, no criticism. When he looks up, it is not in envy. When he looks down, it is not with arrogance. Many look at him, but nobody sees him. Calm and detached, he is free from all danger, a dragon hidden among men… -Benjamin Hoff
The quote above is directly from the book The Te of Piglet and, to me, perfectly represents how I choose to not give a fuck.
If you want to know more about anything I’ve talked about here drop me a line. Or, if you’re into that whole self-education thing, you could simply pop over to Amazon.com and grab a couple of books.