Follow Your Bliss

I’m not sure whether Klodt’s chapter “The Power of Abundance” owes more to Taoism or to Joseph Campbell’s advice to “Follow Your Bliss,” but it’s hard not to like the advice he offers here. As Dave noted in an earlier comment, though, it might help you more in the pursuit of happiness than in the pursuit of work. Of course, I’ve always resisted others’ suggestion that I try to make money from my hobbies because I’ve always felt that the very nature of “work” detracts from the joy to be found in pursuing hobbies you love.

Still, I would certainly agree that:

We are happy when this Te, or natural ability of ours, is fully exercised, that is, when our nature is fully and freely developed.
-FUNG YU-LAN

If there is one essential principle of the Tao of Abundance, it is this: Follow your nature. Your nature is your strength. To deny it is to rob yourself of your own power, your Te. Many deny their talents, gifts, and abilities, then complain they can’t be happy or successful in this world. This is like placing leg-irons around your ankles and then complaining that you can’t run fast. Following your nature is a simple matter of doing what you are naturally good at. In his commentary on the Chuang Yzu, Kuo Hsiang wrote: “If by nature a man is a strong man, he will carry a heavy burden without feeling the weight. If one is by nature a skillful man, he can manage all sorts of affairs without feeling busy.” Ease, joy, and power are natural by-products of following your nature, and need not be sought for themselves. Denying your gifts and abilities doesn’t just limit your power, strength, and joy; it robs you of the guiding and motivating force that leads you to the life you were born to live. Following your nature puts you in the flow of the Tao. Remember, as Lao Tzu put it, “the Tao’s principle is spontaneity.” If you are suppressing your own nature every day in your work, you can hardly expect yourself to live spontaneously in any aspect of your life. Denying your nature deadens and dulls the senses and switches off your innate intuitive intelligence. It makes you feel heavy and doubt yourself.

This seems like “common sense” advice. Most of us of a certain age have seen people whose lives have been miserable because they denied their own nature and tried to become what someone they loved wanted them to become:

We are seduced away from our spontaneous nature by the promise and illusion of security. The way of nature means embracing creative insecurity, moving with and effectively responding to, continuous and spontaneous change. By following the way of your nature and doing the work to which you are naturally suited, you enter the stream of your destiny. You have simply to flow with it. If, instead of following your nature, you choose your career to please your parents, to make more money, or to win social acceptance your destiny will escape you. Again, people often overlook their innate talents when making career choices, then complain that they don’t know what they are here on this Earth to do. They often become sidetracked by peripheral issues.

I’m not sure I’d call making money a “peripheral issue,” but Klodt’s observations are hard to deny. I know I’ve always hated plants that have been trimmed in ways that deny their natural growth pattern. There are few things uglier than a tree that’s been topped to avoid a power line or a shrub that’s been pruned to fit a particular shape, unless it’s a bonsai, of course 😉

I do know from my experiences producing this web site that Klodt is also right when he says:

On the other hand, as you give your gifts and express your inmost nature in the outer world, you attract to yourself the people, circumstances, and resources you will need to fulfill your destiny. You enter a field of experience that, from a conventional perspective, seems magical, but in fact is only the natural state of your being. Spontaneous, creative action and synchronicity in relationships and events become the order of the day. You find yourself being at the right place at the right time. It is not anything you are consciously doing; you are simply allowing your own nature to move you into the flow of the Tao.

For me, at least, the best reason to spend so much time and money producing a web site is to attract others who share your interests and appreciate your efforts. Such a community has helped me to grow in ways it’s hard to imagine until you’ve actually been part of one. Virtual communities of poets, photographers, philosophers and programmers have enriched my life in ways I would never have imagined before blogging began.

10 thoughts on “Follow Your Bliss

  1. As has happened so often, your post today is just what I needed to hear.

    Just a few minutes ago, before reading your post, I put myself on a waiting list for an art class at the local community college, in addition to the class I am already registered for as a prerequisite for their massage therapy program beginning in Fall 2008. My gifts and abilities and joys are in drawing, painting, writing, photography and yoga, but I have also been told that I display gifts and abilities that could be used in the alternative healing arts. Although I feel less certainty in that area, I feel drawn in that direction as well as in the direction of the arts.

    Thanks so much for your post, Loren.

  2. Very interesting. I think it’s something corporations should take into account when figuring out what people’s development paths should be. In my company it’s all about getting rounded experience so you can do everything. It doesn’t make sense to expect everyone to do everything; it should be based on individual talents and proclivities. This is a great reminder that for true happiness we should be able to express our best talents to their fullest extent. Not saying there aren’t some weaknesses that should at least be addressed but to expect everyone to be the same is unrealistic and bad management, to me!

  3. The simple act of deriving a living from a hobby need not turn it into “work” that diminishes its value to the spirit. The happiest times can be when one is doing what one loves and accidentally makes money from it. In that case, remuneration is secondary, but exciting, and serves to bolster the feelings of joy and power already derived from the hobby. The luckiest people on earth, I think, are those few who are able to earn their living by following their nature. Warren Buffett is a case in point, as is anyone who has ever sold a painting or published a poem. Perhaps, like so much in life, it’s all in one’s attitude.

  4. How very true, your reason for blogging. I value the writers, artists and thinkers I’ve met through this medium so very much. It’s wonderful to have a topic I wish to discuss and immediately know that creative, thoughtful people will be there to receive it, discuss it, and respond.

    I have learnt a great deal, seeing the world through all those different eyes.

  5. There is no doubt that taoism is the perfect approach to bloggedy blogging and I always enjoy an intelligent exploration of that theme. And then remember that the way that can be taught/described is not the true way and laugh, have a wonderful day full of strange sychonicitous miracles of confluence,

  6. This is so timely…the first sign that the longing that I am feeling is truly a calling to return to my soul’s leading…and that risking may be part of it. Wish me clear signs to follow!

What do you think?