I have been thinking since I posted the brief piece last week about David Carradine how it was that I came to follow the Tao. The beginning was seeing Kung Fu as a kid. I did not care about the martial arts so much as the scenes in the monastery where "Grasshopper" would learn from Master Po and the other monks. That I found fascinating. Then came a book called "Dispatches" by Michael Herr which is probably the best book on the Vietnam War I have ever read. In it he wrote about a war correspondent named Tim Page who was in to Taoism.
The next link in the chain was in the Rangers. I was hanging out with a few other Rangers who were interested in the Martial Arts, especially the power of the mind. I was also reading a little bit of Carlos Castaneda at the time. The Rangers pushes people way beyond what most people would consider their own limits. I had many experiences that could not be explained in a logical, rational manner and followed them where they led. I learned some lessons that could not be learned any other way and trying to describe them I find nearly impossible. I also had a very small Bible that the Military gives out. I carried it in my Rucksack and would read it during the waiting portion of the "Hurry up and Wait" that the military is famous for. I read it cover to cover at least a dozen times over the four years I was in.
After leaving the Rangers came a few years of trying to find a balance between the life and experiences I had left and the new one as a civilian. It was very difficult and I was reading and studying very hard trying to find balance.
A major influence and the writer I give the most credit to as far as discovering the Tao goes, is Alan Watts. I have around thirty of his books and one I read over and over is "Cloud-Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown, A mountain Journal. Alan is the one who really helped me, post military.
Other books with a major influence were:
TAO, The Watercourse Way by Alan Watts
Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu
NAM by Tim Page
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
The Nature of personal reality by Jane Roberts
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
Zen in the Martial Arts by Joe Hyams
Illusions by Richard Bach
This is but the very tip of a very long reading list. There are hundreds more upstairs right now that had some influence on me to some extent. I do love my books!
Anyway, there is an old saying that the Tao can not be described but only experienced and as I go along though life I believe that is very true. The books above pointed in the general direction that I should go but the Tao teaches in its own way and in its own time.