Monday, May 4, 2009

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life

Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao
© 2007 Wayne Dyer
416 pages

In continuing my philosophical and comparative religion studies, I'm reading another book on the Tao Te Ching. While The Guiding Light of Lao Tzu was more or less a commentary on the Tao Te Ching, Dyer's book is a "devotional". The book consists of eighty-one short essays, one for each 'verse' or 'chapter' in Tzu's work. Each essay is introduced with the 'verse' in full, and Dyer then draws on a variety of translations and commentaries to explore the meaning of it. In writing on the greater meaning of the Tao Te Ching, Dyer will often look for connections to other religious or philosophical workers, including poetry. After explaining what he thinks is the meaning, Dyer tries to distill that meaning into a couple of short statements, which he then commets on. Each essay ends with a section titled "Do the Tao Now", in which Dyer urges the reader to put Taoism into practice and makes suggestions. Some of his suggestions are a bit...severe. For instance, he asks the reader not to fight colds, but to live in harmony with them, and to abstain from watching news footage that mentions violence.

The book is a curious blend of philosophical advice and "New Agey" thinking, making every reading session pretty varied. Dyer's explanations make more sense than the ones in The Guiding Light, although past a certain point there's no point in explaining some of the Tao's statements. Albert Schweitzer commented in his Out of my Life and Thought that Taoism is much more intuitive than western philosophies. Taoism makes more sense to me now, and however uncomfortable some portions of it made me, I generally enjoyed the book and would like to revisit it in the future.

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