My Five Favorite Taoists

Robert Downey, Jr

I borrowed this image from the Wikipedia page. Hope that is OK! I think that all parts are Creative Commons. Hope so, anyways. Not like I am going to take a picture of him myself! Hey… is he related to Harry Potter?

OK. I decided to try something a little different today.

This Ultimate Blog Challenge has me writing every day (Phew!) so I decided to change things up and do a post on who inspires me with the Tao and why. If  you are new to the Tao Te Ching, these are some of my favorite people who have given English life to this ancient Chinese text.

But first…to take some advice from David G Jones, author of The School of Sun Tzu, I will share a bit about the history of the Tao Te Ching…

History of the Tao Te Ching

I don’t want to write a huge essay just on this, but – in a nutshell – Lao Tzu was a very wise man, as you may have guessed. He lived over 2,000 years ago. (NOTE: I am changing this timeframe from 2,500 years because the Wikipedia told me so. Many sources say it is more than 2,500 years old, including someone who should know – Hua Ching Ni – who you will read about later in this post.)

Last I heard, Lao Tzu was real and not some fictional character but you never know when someone is that popular and has such a profound impact on the world. Stories change… I mean, look at Elvis? He was real too, but the idolized God image of Elvis is vastly different than the real man. I digress…

OK. So Lao Tzu was stopped as he was leaving the country. They knew they may never see him again since travel was considerably slower in those days and way more dangerous. Lao Tzu was known for his wisdom, so they asked him to write some things down. Thus, the Tao Te Ching was born. Since then, it has been translated nearly as many times as the Bible. The posts that I write are my own translations. If you read my About This Work page, it will explain all that in more detail so I won’t go into it here. Although I am stringing the words together in a new way from other translators, the words are primarily the words of Lao Tzu. So I guess that you could say that he is my favorite Taoist. And with that, I will give you my list…

My Top Five Taoists

Lao Tzu

A list of favorite Taoists would not be complete without mentioning the founder. How could any man write words that are so relevant across so vast of a timeline? Not just relevant… reverent. Yet his second book, like many books after a hit bestseller, gets little notice. His second book is Hua Hu Ching. For being such an incredibly wise spirit, I find it sad that there were only two. Why not a big series like Harry Potter?

Hua Ching Ni

I think of him as Master Ni, but if you asked him he would much rather you called him Omni. I could tell you stories all day long of Master Ni. I would say, of all the people I have met on this planet – he is the most dear to me of anyone. (I know, I’m married… but still?)

What is cool about him from a Taoist perspective is that he comes from an unbroken chain of 74 generations of Taoist masters dating back to 216 B.C. (See why I kinda think he is right about how old the Tao Te Ching is?) Think about that. It is incredible! 74 generations. Can you imagine? There would be no questioning that you are going to be a Taoist master. You can’t run off and join a rock group. This is your destiny! It takes a special commitment that goes beyond anything outside of your own lifetime to carry that onward.

OK, that is the factual part and very very cool, but the real reason that Master Ni is my favorite Taoist is because he is the one person I have ever met of anyone that seems to be without an ego. Being with him, he treated me like I was his equal. He stretched me beyond who I thought that I was and made me want to be more. He is a big reason why I am sitting here today writing this post.

If you want to check him out, it shouldn’t be hard. He has written over 75 books on Taoism.. probably many more than that. You can check out more about him and his family on his website, The College of Tao.

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Wayne Dyer was my inspiration for this website and for my deciding to translate the Tao.  Before I heard about the lawsuit between Wayne Dyer and Stephen Mitchell (oops!), I thought the two guys were best friends. After all, Wayne did an audio with Stephen Mitchell’s wife, Byron Katie, didn’t he? Ack. I am sadly disappointed by that whole mess, but that is a different post. Honestly, I don’t know a lot about the lawsuit. I just learned about it as I was researching for this post, so I can’t speak intelligently about it (and not sure if I would want to – it just sounds ugly.)

Wayne Dyer’s project of “living the Tao” for his book was very inspiring. That is what gave me the idea to spread the posts out across the year and focus on one for 4 – 5 days. He has lots of inspiring books and he inspires me as an author too. He has written so many books! He must just crank them out. It’s amazing.

Byron Katie

I could have said Stephen Mitchell because his version of the Tao Te Ching is definitely one of my favorites, but it’s his wife who really has transformed my thinking. She is phenomenal. If you have never read any of Byron Katie’s work, you might want to start with just a video or two from her website, The Work of Byron Katie. What I love about Katie (that is what everyone calls her – I guess she didn’t want to be called Byron) is that she beautifully blends the principles of Tao with self development better than anyone. Really. Check her OUT!

Robert Downey, Jr.

OK, he’s cute…super cute. I also love his movies – particularly Sherlock Holmes and the Iron Man movies. But what really puts him on my list is that Master Ni’s school of Chinese Medicine, Yo San University, honored him with the 2012 Robert Graham Visionary Award. Why? Wasn’t Robert Downey, Jr. a druggie? Not anymore! He found Tao, ladies and gentlemen. And so the hot just got hotter… Great job, Robert!

If you want to learn more about his fantastic revival, check out this article in the Men’s Journal.

So that about raps up my list. Phew! I was worried that this would be a book! Do you have any favorite role models?  Please share your comments in the space below!

This post is part of my contribution to the Ultimate Blog Challenge. If you are part of that challenge, please say hello and I will check out your blog as well! If you are a blogger and are not a part of the challenge, it is worth a look! It’s a great opportunity to share and be shared.

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  1. Pingback: The School of Sun Tzu

  2. I love Master Ni’s books. I have only met him once in person. Can you share one of your favorite stories of him? : )

    Great Blog, Amy!


    • Hi Jim,

      Thanks for visiting. I only met Master Ni in person a few times. My favorite story of him really deserves a blog post to itself, but I will just tell it briefly here. I had decided that I wanted to meet him in person one time in a trip I was taking to L.A. (He lived there at the time.) His assistant said that he really wasn’t doing personal consultations anymore, but I was insistent because I really wanted to meet with him. So they scheduled me a meeting at his house. I got really lost in getting there and I arrived about an hour late. I was very upset, but I wanted to respect his time so when I arrived at the door I apologized and just handed him the flowers that I had purchased for him. He was very kind. He let me in anyways and we ended up spending way more than an hour together. It was the beginning of a wonderful friendship. We lost touch. He has a very private life and I live in a different state, but I cherish his friendship as one of the dearest ones of my life.

  3. Amy, that’s so good to hear. Thanks for sharing.

    When I met master ni, I had reached a road block in my cultivation. At one of his workshops, he kind of just found me. Without my saying anything, he stated exactly what I was experiencing at the time. I was shocked. He told me to be natural and that I was going to be okay. That’s pretty much all he said.

    True to his word, I found my answer soon after. I’m not making him out to be a God, because you know that’s completely against what he stands for. But I will say that he is truly a master. I feel very honored to have read his books and to have even met him once.

    Take care, and keep maintaining this wonderful blog!

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