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What Is It?

What is gooder than God?
More evil than the devil?
The rich need it
The poor have it
And if you eat it you will die?

—a riddle

Before I give you the answer to that "gooder than God" riddle, we need to consider one important question: What the *#*@! is a Tao?

I thought you'd never ask.

The Tao -- pronounced "tao" or "dao" depending on how hip you want to sound -- is a philosophy of life based on a Chinese text called the Tao Te Ching, or "The Way and Its Power."

The Tao Te Ching is the work of several writers who were inspired by the teachings of a guy named Lao Tzu, who lived about six hundred years before Christ. But the ideas behind the Tao are older still, and were very likely derived from some of man's oldest teachings.

Like all of life, the Tao is an eternal mystery, and has so much meaning that it may be easier to say what it is not.


The Tao is NOT a religion.

It has no gods, and could be as helpful to a Christian or a Jew as to a druid who worships trees, a narcissist who worships himself, or a record executive who worships money. Truthfully, the record exec is probably the person who most needs the Tao.

Once you know what the Tao is not, then everything else is the Tao.


The Tao is the biggest thing there is.

The Tao connects the personal with the universal. It is the link between you and other people. It is the link between you and the natural world, the link between you and the universe. The Tao is the link between you and yourself.

And that ain't all. The Tao is a way of life, a science and an art. It is the natural order, and it is a path that leads to peace and freedom. The Tao is the deepest well of the purest water, but you cannot see it or hear it, touch it or taste it. You also cannot use it up.

The general idea is that if you live your life in accordance with your own essential nature, then your life will be empowered by the Tao.

When Shakespeare wrote, "To thine own self be true," he was dipping into the Tao ... or into some really good snuff.


The opposite of the Tao would be to live your life in defiance of your original nature, in which case your chances of finding tranquility are pretty much shot to shit.

If you live according to the Tao, you live in accordance with the natural world, with other people, and yourself.

If you live in opposition to the Tao, your life will unfold in opposition to the natural world, to other people, and to yourself.

The choice is up to you.

If you read this guide distilled from my view of life, love, and laughter, then find yourself wanting more, you will have missed the essence of the Tao, which relies not in wanting more, but in needing less.

"To know you have enough," says the Tao, "is to be truly rich."


Like any good philosophy, the Tao is a search for knowledge.

Where do you get this knowledge? When I was a kid, sometimes a feller would be reluctant to say where he'd gotten something -- like, say, a "borrowed" horse -- so he'd say he got it "from the getting place."

But before we get to the getting place, what about my riddle? What is gooder than God and more evil than the devil, that the rich need and the poor have, and if you eat it you will die?

The answer, of course, is "nothing."

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