Tao: The Ancient Way In Modern Life

Tao: The Ancient Way In Modern Life

By Gaylon Kent, author of Tao Power: The Ancient Way in Modern Life

Any spiritual discipline can seem daunting at first, and one that began in China centuries ago can seem downright mystifying.

Nothing is further from the truth, and I will show you that the spiritual and philosophical Tao is very simple: Tao’s purpose is to help you maximize your talents and live the life you are meant to live. You should expect nothing more and settle for nothing less.

Tao, at its core, is nature. It is the garden in your yard and the passing of the seasons. It is also what is deep inside you. All of us were issued assorted and varied talents at birth, and all of us are commanded by our inner selves to do something with our lives.

Taoists do those things. They are on their Path, living in concert with their inner self. They trust their hearts and follow their instincts because their hearts are telling them where to go and their instincts are telling them how to get there.

The only real choice we have to make in this life is whether or not we are going to maximize our time and our talents or if we are going to squander them. When we choose to maximize our time and talents, all things come to us, including the life we are meant to lead.

Being on your Path is both easy and hard. It’s easy because you are doing things you have a knack for and enjoy. And it doesn’t matter what these things are, either. All that matters is they come from the heart. It’s hard, though, because it requires breaking away from the herd and following a road less traveled because you are the only one who can follow your Path.

The purpose of any religion or spiritual discipline is to give adherents freedom from the fear of death. The difference is how they go about it: Some do it with the prospect of eternal life or reincarnation. Tao does it by demanding we make our time serve us so that when our final day comes, we are looking back on time well spent.

Doing this requires wisdom, courage, and patience. You do not have to chant, wear robes, or burn incense, though you can if you want to. All you have to do is be you and live from the heart.

So come join me. In the following posts, we’ll learn about the wisdom, courage, and patience we all have and that the biggest obstacle between us and what we want out of this life generally looks us in the mirror every morning.


Wisdom is an interesting animal: people want it and admire it, but few go and get it. This is too bad because wisdom is, literally, there for the taking, waiting for anyone willing to seize it.

Some chase wisdom through formal education, which is admirable because, of course, we must know things and little of substance is accomplished without significant knowledge. We must know what we need to know and what we want to know and then go and find these things out, but even those in the finest universities will squander their time if all they do is take notes and pass tests.

Wisdom is earned, not dispensed. It comes not from mastering a course of study but from mastering ourselves. When we’ve done that and know what we are about, we are on our way to maximizing our time on this planet.

Wisdom in this context does not specifically mean uttering wise phrases or reading books with big words in them, although it can. For a Taoist, wisdom consists of knowing yourself; nothing more and nothing less. Those who get on in this life, those who look back at years and decades well spent, are those who have identified the life they are meant to live.

For a Taoist, wisdom means listening to your heart because this is where the life you are meant to live begins. Wisdom is the foundation of life on our Path because if we do not know what we are about or haven’t put thought into the life we are meant to live, we will lead scattered, wayward, unsatisfying lives. We only have to look around us: how many people do we know that are putting little thought into their lives? How many people do we know for whom this year is going to look a lot like last year? People who do this year after year find that before they know it the decades are starting to look a lot alike and soon enough they are looking back at what might have been, one of life’s great tragedies.

Everyone on this planet was issued assorted talents at birth and everyone can do something well. Those committed to life on their Path have identified and spend their time maximizing those talents. We do this by listening to our inner selves because it will tell us what our talents are and how we should be maximizing them.

If you are unsure what your instincts tell you, ask yourself what did you dream about as a kid? Did you pursue it? Now, the time for the dreams of youth may have passed because we are simply incapable of doing those things anymore, but there are still things we dream of doing. And it doesn’t matter what it is, either. We all have different talents, we all have different interests and what interests me might well bore you. It could be anything, too, from building a chair to doing the painting you’ve long wanted to try, to volunteering to be of service to others to whatever hearts urge humans to do. It doesn’t have to bring you fame and fortune or cause you to live down the ages – though it might. It only has to come from deep inside you.

However, this can be easier than it sounds because every day there are seventy times seven distractions: the kids need to be taken here and there; the car needs repairing; friends and family make demands on our time that are difficult to say no to. This is where the other two elements – courage and patience – come in. But it all starts with the wisdom to know what we are about.

And it doesn’t take as much work as you might think; some time listening to your heart generally provides the required insights into yourself. Wisdom comes before Courage and Patience because without Wisdom, Courage, and Patience will do you little good.


Wisdom is the necessary building block for courage because if we are courageously chasing the superfluous we are wasting our time. Courage is the logical successor to wisdom because if we do not go out and actually live the life we were put here to live, wisdom is wasted.

Courage can be great of course, but to a large extent courage starts small because finding and staying on your Path is not all grandeur, it is mainly getting up every morning and putting some work in. Work at spiritual self-cultivation and transcending the pettiness and bickering that occupy others. Mainly, though, it takes work at being you. This takes courage because so few people do it.

There is no time like right now to start being you. Tomorrow won’t do you any good because tomorrow never gets here. Those who wait for the perfect time to start something never get started because we’re human and everything we do is imperfect and we’ll end up waiting for a moment that will never come.

Courage is like the sand in an hourglass because sand does not wait for the right time, it’s go time as soon as the hourglass is turned over. So it is with us: when the time comes, when we’ve made the commitment to cultivating ourselves and our talents, when we know the life we are meant to lead, we must go and do it right now, just like the sand goes from the top bulb, through the neck to the bottom bulb. Those following The Way know there is no better time than right now to show the courage to do what needs to be done.

Courage is not always easy to muster because all of us know some, perhaps many, people who have not mustered the courage to find their Paths. They are squandering their time in mindless pursuits that yield no other dividend than having been entertained. Tao insists that we put our time to work for us. Even one second ago is a memory and tomorrow only awaits us, offering time that cannot be utilized now. And we humans are experts at procrastinating. The diet will start tomorrow. That chair will be built tomorrow. The stone steps will be climbed tomorrow.

Everything moves, including, especially, us and Taoists have the wisdom and the patience to understand their movements. Just like the sand, they squander neither time nor effort. The sand’s only goal is to go where it is directed. A Taoist’s only goal is to go where their Path directs it.

Wisdom and courage will give you the confidence to buck the norm and to take the road less traveled when others follow the herd. Soon enough your Path will become habit and you will look at your life like an artist looks at a project: you will view both what the finished project will look like and the work that must be expended to make it happen.


Patience is the classic last-but-not-least example: you can have all the wisdom and courage in the world, but if you lack patience, they will not do you much good. Patience is the anchor that allows wisdom and courage to their work.

People lacking patience are everywhere. How many people quit their dreams after the first reverses? Lots of them. The challenges were too daunting, the work was too hard, or immediate success eluded them. The examples are endless.

Like Wisdom and Courage, Patience can be either the easiest or the toughest aspect of the three. Those who find it easy accept the fact that it’s a long life and that pyramids don’t start at the top. Their favorite cliche is “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Those who find it difficult tend to want results and satisfactions immediately and, as a general rule, life is not built for that. Patience means sticking to your path from the day you find it until your final day. It does not mean being on your Path some days not others, some months and not others, some years and not others. Every day means every day, from the day we start until our day is done. Only then will we lead the life we are meant to live.

Patience is not deterred by accomplishment, either, because one summit merely provides the impetus toward the next one. There are always dreams to chase. Some will be caught – life’s great prize. Some elude us – life’s great lesson – and those with patience will be chasing dreams on their final day – life’s great challenge.

All of us are compelled to do something from deep inside. Now, these things could change over the course of a life. This can be confusing for some, but all it means is we have come to the end of our interest in something and are free to move to the next cycle of our life. Those with the patience to follow their heart until their final day find the life they were meant to live was there for the taking.

Patience will teach you to ignore success and failure. These two imposters exist only in relation to one another: you take one away, and the other disappears, too, and all we are left with is the effort we chose to put into something. Tao will show you the effort put into Wisdom, Courage, and Patience will take you exactly where you are meant to go.