I posted this just a minute ago on the Tea House website. It is part of a thread I started there talking about a conversation I had with a co-worker. She was of the opinion that Taoism and eastern religions/philosophies in general tended to encourage 'distancing' oneself from certain bothersome matters, even if it meant distancing oneself from loved ones, and even turning down one's emotions for that person. It felt wrong to me but I couldn't respond to her very well. So I started a thread there to ask others what they thought about this misconception. We pondered it together for a while, and then I posted the following after reading a bit at this website.
So I had a thought just now - let me see if I can put it into words.
Maybe the/a reason why people may see Taoism and other eastern philosophies/religions as detaching and distancing from things and people is because they don't go on to see the next step of the process.
For instance, when I step back and look at the 'big picture' about something, or look up into the sky and see stars and feel connected to stars, planets and the cosmos, that is just the first step. In this step I feel the 'bigness' of that feeling, the communion with nature from its cosmic vastness to its atomic minutiae. This takes me out of the petty matters of the day and into a somewhat removed perspective.
But the next step (for me) is the feeling that if I am connected with all things and all things are connected with me, then I am not removed from them - I am of the same "stuff" as they are, and we are are all in this together. From this I get a sense of compassion that is acute, yet all encompassing at the same time. I am simultaneously attached and detached with everyone and everything. So I treat things and beings well, because in doing so I am treating myself well. It is an immediate, direct connection. It is a feeling so benevolent that I am compelled to compassionate action. It is an epiphany to me....
Hmm. That's a lot more words than I thought I would write about that.
5 hours ago