I’m always reading something, and of course some of that is about magic, mysticism, and so on. Currently it’s a mixture of Taoism, history, creativity, and Depressing Real World Stuff. As of late, I’ve added something else to my cycle – “philosophy refreshers.”
I have a large collection of Tao Te Ching translations (well over 20 and recently expanded). Though some are better than others, I find a reading of the Tao Te Ching is a good refresher to getting me in a healthy “Tao-oriented” mentality. As long as the translation is half-decent it helps me think of my life, the big picture, and what’s good for me and everyone.
So what I’ve decided to do? Every book or two I read, I then read a copy of the Tao Te Ching before reading something else. As it’s not a long book – sort of the Compact Car of religion and philosophy – I can do it in as short as an evening.
I got this idea after reading about a Taoist hermit who was obsessed with the Tao Te Ching. He was said to reread it constantly, and was considered a kind of holy or wise man. I’m not prone to reread something that much, but it did make me think “maybe reviewing this book that means so much to me is a good idea.”
I’ve found this has a number of benefits I’d like to share.
First, it’s a pause in whatever thing I’m currently focused on. I tend to go down rabbit holes now and then so it provides a break. This break is often relaxing, thought-provoking and even funny is even better.
Secondly, the Tao Te Ching for all its Deep Subject Matter, has a beautifully light feel to it. That means it’s also a great moment of rest from whatever Heavy Stuff my mind is on. A lot of Taoist stuff is like that – light yet deep.
Third, rereading something that is foundational to my ways of thinking keeps me grounded and refreshes me. Every week or two I get re-centered on who I am, how I think, how I’ve grown. I also get a good dose of translator notes and thought-provoking moments.
Also it gives me an excuse to buy even more translations. Taoist retail therapy, as it were, but I won’t count that in the list.
I’ve found this to be a real positive to my studies and readings and ruminations. As you can guess, I feel better, feel more grounded, fee more thoughtful, have more insights. I’m glad I gave this a try – and will continue to do it.
I invite you to consider “refreshers” like this in your own studies and readings. Reread a particular book, or a few chapters of a longer one so you complete it over time. Do something that helps you soak in the lessons important to you and take a break.
Let me know how that goes!