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information vs. instruction

My spiritual text is the Tao Te Ching.

I am not a Taoist.

The Tao is the purest truth, meaning you can find falsehood or truth in it.

Taoism is a religion, meaning you will find more falsehood there than truth.

What makes the difference?


The Tao is information, not instruction. Taoism, like all religions, is instructive. It tells you how to be, and it is therefore a corruption of the pure truth of what IS. Taoism is, IMO, the most ironic iteration of this common theme.

This is a human challenge--when we are presented with information, we immediately translate it into instruction. It happens all the time in my work.

I say the way something IS, and people respond like I'm telling them what to do, endorsing something, advocating for something.

Or sometimes, the only way I can figure out how to say what IS is through the language of instruction. "If you want this, you must do that." But this is STILL not an instruction for the wisest ones.

And sometimes, my shadow of the rescuer is present in my writing. I want you to do what I'm saying to do, because I want to rescue you from what I judge to be needless suffering.

"Take my solution. Let me rescue you from ever knowing how to do it yourself. Let me rescue you from developing skills and tools and knowledge for yourself, because then you will need me around."

Byron Katie is the one who allowed me the freedom to absorb information instead of hearing an instruction, even when someone IS telling me what to do. Her book "Loving What Is" is a path to utter freedom in communication with others. In it she teaches us to truly listen to all that the other person is saying. She teaches us to sort out what they are saying, what their judgments and values are, what my judgments and values are, to empathize and understand it without taking it personally or making it personal.

Information becomes instruction to the extent that we have judgments, that we value one outcome over the other. As such, it may be incredibly valuable, helping us to pursue what we value, showing us our judgments...

AND if those judgments and values are in our shadow, it produces reactivity. I say "people who meditate are peaceful," and they say "I can be peaceful without meditating!"

Fundamentally, instruction is resistance, the force that drives the cycle and holds it together.

I am free because I have a choice about what I hear in what others say. I have the power to receive information and be free from my reactivity to instruction. I have the sight to see my judgments and values as they are highlighted by receiving instruction, and I have the self-love and self-approval to gain value from seeing my judgments and values.

I have this power, but it doesn't mean I always use it.

I am human, after all.

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