By Nathan, on September 30th, 2011
Possibly. It might not even seem Taoist. As autumn falls upon us, I can feel my initiative waking up for the slumber summer puts it in every year. I feel invigorated, full of motion. I am doing all of the things I let slide during the consistently hot season and starting as many new projects as I can. Where just a few weeks ago, I was content to let things rest, let things float, I am no longer content to. This is my natural rhythm.
It is widely, scientifically acknowledged that nature moves in cycles. There are flood tides and there are ebb tides. There are fertile seasons, and barren seasons. But what doesn’t really make any sense is our (as a society) insistence on thwarting these cycles without considering the effectiveness of the natural ebb and flow of the cycle we alter. We eat “fresh” berries in the winter from our friendly supermarket. Eggs are obviously better and more numerous in the spring, yet the largest egg eating season is in the fall? We work when we want to sleep, try to sleep when we want to be awake and generally try to force our lives into an acceptable rhythm.
But not all cycles benefit us when they are forced. Our food is much more flavorful and healthy when grown according to its cycle and ripeness, so it can be eaten close to where it is grown. We are, individually, much more productive in our own cycles. We look better in clothes that complement our unique skin tones. This not to say that a complete lack of discipline is a virtue (parts of Taoism mesh well with parts of Confucianism, which is very concerned with structure). If society is to coalesce, it cannot be billions of unconnected streams running all in their own directions. It is the natural rhythm of humanity for individual cycles to complement, connect and synchronize with each other. Some tenets of our lives naturally need to be restructured to come into this connected harmony. All your local Taoist is saying is consider why that natural cycle is that way before forcing a change (which is hardly the ideal way to change, is it?).
The confusions here only arise when dealing in absolutes. When dealing in soft concepts, Tao stops contradicting itself. The altering of natural cycles is, in a few instances, a natural cycle. But if the cycle is being forcibly altered to a contradictory state, then the change is damaging. If the cycle is diverted using its nature into a better arrangement to produce a more harmonious result (after carefully considering the ultimate result) is much more desirable and actually far easier.