Tao Shielding

Written by Jester

Kevlar will stop a bullet, but it won't save you from a knife. Armour plating may be durable, but it's heavy and unwieldy. Hazmat gear will protect you from asbestos, but is useless against an angry brown bear. With a switchblade.

I have developed a form of defence far superior to any employed by any army or police agency. No bullet can penetrate it, or even make contact. It renders melee weapons useless. It is impervious to extreme temperatures. It's lighter than air, largely because all it requires is a state of mind. I call this revolutionary development Tao Shielding. And nothing can get through it, not even a grizzly bear with a sniper rifle.

Tao Shielding is based on the teachings of Lao-Tze, a Chinese philosopher who developed Taoist thinking, as laid out in the Tao Te Ching. The Chinese, I have discovered, invented all good things. The Chinese even invented Swedish Meatballs. S'true. Okay, maybe it isn't, but Tao Shielding makes me feel so at ease I am not even worried about being accurate.

Which is one of its many advantages. Tao Shielding is the most powerful form of defence. It can protect you against physical harm. The soldier who charges a machine gun nest while it blazes away at him and emerges from the encounter unscathed is not lucky. He is protected by Tao Shielding. The drunk driver who causes a 30-car wreck but emerges unscathed even though all the passengers in his car died is not proof that there's no justice, it's Tao Shielding at work.

Tao Shielding can even protect you from extreme psychological and emotional duress. The intense mental pressure experienced by soldiers who have served long tours of duty, doctors who work with victims of abuse, and mall employees who have to listen to the same Christmas carols over and over from October to January. It allows these people to overcome their doubts, and maintain a high morale. Those that suffer an great loss and keep fighting, the ugly poor guy who asks out the rich supermodel...and gets her, they're employing Tao Shielding.

Here's how it works. Taoism is a way of looking at the world that encourages naturalism and being true to oneself. One of its central concepts is P'u, the uncarved block. A wooden block can in theory by carved into any number of things--a toothpick, a bust of Kevin Bacon, a durable but rather stiff pair of pants. But these are completely unnatural things to happen to a block of wood. They never evolve this way naturally; only through human interference do they turn out this way.

Similarly, you as a human being can be trained to do an infinite number of tasks, but you won't be happy with all of them. We could train you to clean out Porta potties that are coloured blue, but only on Sundays. But why would we? Wouldn't you be much happier doing things you like to do?

Taoism often sounds like complete apathy to those that don't appreciate its genius. It initially sounds like Taoists never act on anything, even when something is wrong. This is not true. In fact, Taoism allows its practitioners to use a more natural and warmly logical way of fixing problems, often before they even occur. Usually, the Taoist problem solving method amounts to nothing more than "Use the thing correctly."

There's a famous parable in Taoism called The Vinegar Tasters. A Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist all walk into a bar... I mean, they're standing around a barrel of vinegar, tasting it. The Confucian and Buddhist have sour expressions. The Taoist is smiling, because he appreciates vinegar for what it is, and recognizes that it's good stuff when used properly. He's probably thinking of spreading it on some fries.

The basic principle behind Tao Shielding is that you don't over-think or over-try the risky things you're doing. Ever search for hours for something you've lost, swearing and tearing up your home? Then when you finally give up and sit down in frustration, you spot the object sitting patiently across the room? This is what I am talking about.

Even failure has its place. I have been recently trying to cure my status as a single male. A non-Taoist approach to this would be to get a sex change. But that would not be being like the uncarved block. In fact, it would be carving it (and me) in ways I am not brave enough to contemplate.

So I asked a few people out. I met a few women and tried to fit them into my agenda. No luck. It was like mashing them into a square peg. I joined an Internet dating service, spending money to do so. No result.

Then I went to Christmas party completely unrelated to what I was trying to achieve. I had no expectations of meeting someone. And then shortly after the party, a woman I met there called and asked me out. We now have a feisty relationship going. By moving ahead without putting forward unrealistic expectations, or overthinking or overworking something, I got what I wanted.

Now I could bitch and moan about all the time I wasted for something that seemingly dropped into my lap, or I could smile at the sweet taste of vinegar. Not that I am comparing my girlfriend to vinegar.

So how do you utilize Tao Shielding?

There are two important steps. First, avoid trying to overly manipulate things to produce the result you want. This sounds somewhat contradictory at first, but when you think about it eventually makes sense. For example, if you don't want to get shot, then it would be mistake to try to disarm people. But logically, if you take away all the guns you can't possibly get shot, right? The Taoist knows however that in order to disarm people you must spend time around guns, where you'll likely get shot.

Taoism teaches that much human suffering and unhappiness comes from trying to force things to be something they're not. For example, you could redirect the course of a river, but why would you? "Because that river is about to flood a village," replies the unwise. The Taoist retorts that it's better not to build villages where they're likely to get flooded in the first place. It's best to just picture the result you want in your head, and then let it happen. Apparently there's a Force power introduced in the Star Wars novels and comics called "Battle Meditation" that works on the exact same principle.

An important clarification: you must also not expect things to turn out the way you want them too. Doing so leads to massive disappointment, and almost always subconsciously pushes you back into old patterns. Manipulating things that can't be manipulated. Making things and people into something they are not.

The second part is even more important. You must have absolutely no fear. None. Animals can smell fear, humans can sense it, and fate absolutely hates anyone who displays it. Show fear, and you are begging to get annihilated.

Example: I once brought my cat in to the vet to treat an injured paw. Cats distrust doctors more than humans do, and even the most benign animal can turn vicious once injured. They don't trust anyone to come near their injuries, not even the people who routinely feed them.

Once on that examining table, my cat completely flipped out. She had to be put in a bonnet and towel to prevent her from biting and scratching. She was as angry as I'd ever seen her. When the procedure was finally over, the towel and bonnet was removed. Except for the one paw, which was bandaged, my cat was now free to use all of her teeth and claws. She continued to growl, and the vet actually reached back and scratched her cheek. You know, the part right next to the fangs. I was convinced I was about to see major dismemberment.

"Oh, grumpy grumpy grumpy," she cooed at my cat, who didn't react. Apparently she was just too floored that someone had the balls to touch her when she was like this. Clearly, my vet was protected by her Tao shielding. She didn't want my cat to filet her like freshly caught bass, she showed no fear, and so she was fine. Later, I saw the vet give a big hug to a panda bear that was menacingly swinging a pillowcase full of doorknobs.

Perhaps my cat and the panda knew that while my vet was protected by her Tao Shielding, she was impervious to harm. Had she shown the slightest bit of self-doubt, my cat likely would have sliced her into cold cuts. Animals apparently have caught on to Tao Shielding before humans do. Some animal behaviourists believe in something called "The Language of Death." The theory is that animals that move feebly, without confidence, send a signal to other animals that it's time to die, and they know it. More aggressive and self-assured animals will stare down predators even though they are injured or cornered, and get them to back off. There is something in their manner that just says, "You can't take me, chump. I am the Guns of Navarone, I am a Kodiak with a pool cue."

I encourage everyone to try Tao Shielding. It's something that takes practice and discipline. But learn to use it and you will be protected from all of life's horrors--pain, disappointment, self-doubt, and polar bears in all-terrain assault vehicles.

Those who are filled with life
Need not fear tigers and rhinos in the wilds,
Nor wear armour and shields in battle;
The rhinoceros finds no place in them for its horn,
The tiger no place for its claw,
The soldier no place for a weapon,
For death finds no place in them.

-Tao Te Ching