From Tao of Thoreau

This is the first entry in my book. You will see that the left side has a quote from Thoreau, and the right hand side explains the connection of his ideas to Taoism. It also talks of a Seeker, a person looking to live a meaningful, balanced and creative life.


I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. 

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow out of life, to live so sturdily as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it. Or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it. 


Thoreau begins his quest by radically simplifying his world. Moving to a cabin in the woods enables him to identify distractions and illusions. Being alone helps him strip his life down to find out what is important and true in the hopes of discovering a path that has meaning and value. 

Realistically, most of us cannot separate from society. Still, Thoreau teaches the Seeker to identify parts of life that drain our energy, hold us back, and trip us up. 

This is what he means by fronting “the essential facts of life.” What is truly important? What desires are part of my path, and which pull me away from it?  Thoreau and Taoism propose a radical freedom from distracting and destructive thinking, mindsets and actions.   

I would love to hear what you think about these ideas! Leave a comment.

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