I’ll spare you the history lesson. Taoism is over 2,000 years old, yet still coined New Age hippy shit, but I’ll spare you the history lesson. The philosophical discourse, I’m going to spare you that too. I’ll spare you translations, interpretations, and non-dogmatic religious exposition. Tao is the Way. It is a Zen-lifestyle focused on living in awareness, rather than striving for a single moment of it – a satori. It is the alchemy of personal transformation; it is an acceleration of human consciousness; it is the remaining tenants of Shamanism within the confines of civilization. I’m sparing you all of that, but I am going to tell you a story.

There was a farmer, who had a horse – its name was Bingo. Bingo was a big, strong stud – best in the village. One day that horse jumped the fence and made a break for it. The Villagers gather around the farmer: “We’re so sorry to hear about Bingo, such a fine horse, it was a pity he got away.”

Farmer takes all this in and shrugs: “Whose to say if it is bad or good?”

Bingo comes back with a number of gorgeous, equally strong, horses in tow. Everyone in the Village rallies around Farmer: “Such fortune, such luck, such blessings!”

“Whose to say if it is good or bad?” Farmer replies.

Farmer’s son, trying to break one of the horses in and has a nasty accident. He is tossed from the horse fracturing his hip. Again, Villagers stop by to pay their respects and issue condolences: “So sorry about your son. What a horrible accident.”

Seeming nasty, cruel, clueless, or all of the above, Farmer responds: “Whose to say if this is bad or good?”

The next week all the young men are rounded up and sent off to war. The son, with his broken hip, is spared.

A storyteller by trade, I am a work-a-day writer for a University program in what has been referred to as a land of “5,000 stories” (my boss termed the phrase). I have been scribbling stories since I first learned language, though I opt for computer over crayon these days. My medium varies: press release, stage production, website, comic book, blog & I am as likely these days to express a tale visually in video, photo, or layout design as I am with the written word. Hence, the “digital” reference in the title.

Daily society is getting more complicated. Information that once took hours to gather can now be Googled in under a second. Data & dates, figures & factoids are so ubiquitous there is even a term for related overwhelm – infoglut. And even this is changing. As we have reached the end of the Internet, Web 2.0 heralds the end is nigh on the Information Age.

On top of this, we are marketed too endlessly— over 3,000 messages daily by last count (1997)– infringing on our cognition. We are no longer awash in advertising, but have drowned. Meanwhile, the world is changing as fast as its online counterpart. The global chaos of recession, ecological disaster, increased poverty, and war is affecting all of us in one way or another— or soon will!

Yet, times are always changing. The purpose of this experiment isn’t about raising alarm, but to ask if this ancient body of wisdom— Taoism (& to a lesser extent Zen), which celebrates knowledge bestowed by the natural—has relevance in a digital world. I am looking for examples of how these philosophies can help us navigate contemporary society in all of its tumultuous ups & downs.

I am also looking for science behind the Tao, relevant journal articles and observations that jive with Taoist thinking & understanding.

Please, post freely & frequently on entries and to debate.


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