The Tao of Relationships

Our lives are filled with relationships. It's not just the one we love and sleep with. It may be our boss and coworkers. It may be our neighbors and friends. We have relationships with the people we pay for goods and services, and even with strangers on the street. Many have come up with schemes for having felicitous relationships, but one system has withstood the test of time.

Taoists have been thinking and writing about relationships for more than two millennia, and the lonely and confused still seek enlightenment from them. The principles are relatively simple, but for many of us, hard to put into practice. The Taoist master, Chuang Tzu, wrote that he was found on the floor of his kitchen banging on a pot with a wooden spoon by one of his students less than a day after his wife of forty years died. He explained that he felt sad at the loss for an hour and then realized that his wife would want him to be happy, so he found a pot to bang on.

The effects of that level of detachment are profound, but even lesser levels can help with the major pitfall of relationships, namely projection -- assuming we know what someone else means by his or her words and/or actions. As Taoists have also been ardent advocates of balance, they also find it useful to adjust their emotions and expectations so they do not exceed the levels of the person to whom we are relating. In withdrawing from judgment, we can see every revelation as an interesting surprise, no longer "your annoying habits." And we find it harder to exclude anyone around us, which can be a challenge in a crowded city like New York.

This is somewhat a repetition of a talk from last summer, but it will go into a bit more detail, in case you want to attend both. We will meet at the statue and then go somewhere in Riverside Park to talk. It will be a lot of me talking, but I try to let you all talk too. If you arrive more than 5 minutes late, you can call or text me at[masked] to find out where we have settled.

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  • Bob

    fyi....
    I showed up a little late, couldn't find the group and left. Next time, then.

    August 4, 2013

    • Mark S.

      Must have been more than 15 minutes late. Everybody til then made it.

      August 5, 2013

  • Mark S.

    Sorry I couldn't keep answering the phone. It was interrupting the talk too much eventually, because too many calls came in. We had a good talk, and I met a lot of interesting people.

    August 4, 2013

    • Mark S.

      It's one of the tradeoffs in meeting at a free outdoor location. You can't be sure where you'll end up, because someone else may be using it already by the time you get there. I'd suggest coming to the next talk. It's indoors, and there will be opportunities to seat folks even after the talk begins probably: http://www.meetup.com...­

      August 4, 2013

    • Mark S.

      The tradeoff there is that you have to pay a bit for the convenience.

      August 4, 2013

  • Sam

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mark. It made me think.

    August 4, 2013

  • Howard G

    excellent

    August 4, 2013

  • stacy

    Really enjoyed it!

    August 4, 2013

  • Richard B.

    Nice going Mark. Keep up the good work.

    August 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Interesting topic that should interest us all.

    August 4, 2013

  • Natalie

    Yes, I agree with prior comment. Recd the email 45 mns before event and could not respond as I was busy. Glad I made it off waiting list but need to know with more notice. Had made other plans.

    August 4, 2013

  • anna p.

    Just find out that i have to go and not in the waiting list any more. It is too late for me to get to the event.

    August 4, 2013

  • Barbara

    So sorry to cancel at the last minute but I woke up in the middle of the night with a medical problem, went back to sleep and just woke up!

    August 4, 2013

    • Barbara

      Sorry to have missed this discussion. Was looking forward to it.

      August 4, 2013

  • Kristina

    I would love to learn more about Tao philosophy, however can you schedule these on weekday evenings since weekends are so often filled with extended outdoor activities?

    August 3, 2013

    • Mark S.

      I'm starting to move toward indoor events, so I'll have to check on availability. Hoping that Monday evenings work for those of you wanting weeknights, and there have been a few.

      August 4, 2013

  • Carrie

    Sorry to cancel last minute. Hopefully someone on the waiting list will get notified in time.

    August 4, 2013

  • Ellen

    It is too late for me to plan on this now. See you next time.

    August 4, 2013

  • Paulette

    We've been delayed out of town and won't make it back in time, So sorry to miss this.

    August 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Have to bow out... under the weather.

    August 3, 2013

  • Hannah

    Might not be able to come wanted to open up a spot

    August 3, 2013

  • Mark S.

    I'm looking into space rentals for future events like this, so the seating would be more comfortable and we wouldn't have to worry about the weather. Would you be interested in paying $5 to cover costs for an event like this?

    1 · July 29, 2013

    • Monique

      Yes. Absolutely.

      July 30, 2013

    • Agnes

      Yes, count me in! $5 or some kind of contribution is befitting to receive teachings.

      August 3, 2013

  • Pam

    YES. Giving is usually an accepted practice for the opportunity to receive the wisdom of "teachers/masters". I'm happy to give $5, $7, $10, whatever, to ensure the continuity of events like this "rain or shine".

    July 30, 2013

    • Mark S.

      Thanks, Pam. I will try to keep coming up with interesting talks on Taoism once a month, and I will be sure to promote them here at the Brainiac meetup, since so many members have been interested in the past two years. I do this as service, not to make money, so it will all go toward event-related expenses, and perhaps a bit for the website (taomanor.org).

      July 30, 2013

    • Pam

      Of course...that was my understanding.

      July 30, 2013

  • Zoe

    Dang it lol , I want to go but there are no more spots, how can I get involved with this and find this information, thanks I'll look up your links you posted:)

    July 30, 2013

  • Gregg

    unfortunately will be out of town

    July 30, 2013

  • neverboring

    The money is full
    when it rains
    empty when it shines
    Protect me, tao guru!

    YES, $5.00.

    July 29, 2013

    • Mark S.

      I think we'll be okay this weekend, but I'll test an event at a theatre on west 14th Street on a Sunday afternoon next month. We'd need to get at least 40 paying $5 to pay for the space.

      July 29, 2013

  • Gail T.

    I recently heard about Taoist breath work, do you know where this instruction might be available ? thanks!

    1 · July 29, 2013

    • Mark S.

      Breath in Chinese is qi or chi, so you want to search for qigong or chi kung teachers. I only know ones in California and England right now. I'm still getting to know resources here in New York.

      July 29, 2013

  • ellen r.

    I enjoyed your talk on Daoism so I am coming back for more!

    1 · July 24, 2013

  • Mark S.

    If you would like to read a bit more about philosophical Taoism in the meantime, I have a variety of articles on the basic principles on my website: http://taomanor.org/articles.html

    1 · July 24, 2013

  • neverboring

    What about the tao of uncertainty. Can we all handle "maybe" I'll be there--if possible?

    1 · July 23, 2013

    • Mark S.

      I'll ask folks on the list to confirm a day in advance, so some of the waiting list folks have a chance, if their schedules are still open.

      July 24, 2013

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