• the one book i can never put down

    May 21, 2009

    I keep my copy of the Tao Te Ching on my nightstand, and I read a verse at random from it every night just before lights out.  I am always in awe of the simple wisdom on every page.

    I discovered the Tao just last year, so if you’ve only come across it now I feel privileged to share it with you.  A Chinese classic text by Lao Tzu, the Tao – closely followed by Herman Hesse’s Siddharta – is probably my favorite book.  The beauty of the Tao (or the frustration, depending on how you look at it) is that it can be interpreted in infinite ways, so there’s really no use in my telling you what it’s about.  All I can do is share what I think and let you make up your own mind, which is the same principle I apply to the information I give throughout the site.

    To me, the Tao is about acceptance and appreciation.  If you read any personal growth book out there (and I’ve read more than is possibly allowed), you’ll find that they all come down to these two things.  And so does the Tao.

    The verse below – number 39 – at once seems like incredibly timely advice about the environment.  But look closer and see that the message is a broader one about the destructive nature of control in general – in other words, the opposite of appreciating and accepting things as they are.

    When we give up trying to control others or situations and instead accept them and value them just as they are, we discover true contentment.  Not only that, but when we move out of the way, let things be and trust in the natural flow, we clear the path for outcomes far better than we could have predicted.  Well, that’s how I see it, probably because surrendering to the moment and letting things run their natural course is one of the biggest challenges for me.  But if I listen to the Tao, I can accept myself for this, too, trusting it’s all part of the journey and all is well.  That’s why I read it every night; I need reminding!

    How do you interpret it?

    Tao Te Ching – Verse 39
    From the phenomenal translation by Stephen Mitchell

    In harmony with the Tao,
    the sky is clear and spacious,
    the earth is solid and full,
    all creatures flourish together,
    content with the way they are,
    endlessly repeating themselves,
    endlessly renewed.

    When man interferes with the Tao,
    the sky becomes filthy,
    the earth becomes depleted,
    the equilibrium crumbles,
    creatures become extinct.

    The Master views the parts with compassion,
    because he understands the whole.
    His constant practice is humility.
    He doesn’t glitter like a jewel
    but lets himself be shaped by the Tao,
    as rugged and common as a stone.

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  • plant-powered performance

    May 16, 2009

    When I ran the London Marathon in 2005, I dutifully followed the typical carbo-loading call, downing buckets of pasta and enough pizzas to topple Pisa. I was also exhausted all the time and had to stop training altogether every few weeks because of nagging little colds. I finished in 5:05 – about an hour off my target time. I was grateful to get through it in one piece, but I can only wonder what I could have done had I known then about the concepts in Brendan Brazier’s The Thrive Diet.

    Brendan is a professional triathlete who follows a 100% plant-based, whole foods diet, dispelling all those myths that you can’t get enough protein from plants and that we need milk for strong teeth and healthy bones. One of my favorite Brendan Brazier quotes, which I’ll paraphrase here, is that whenever he feels daunted by a particular challenge, he remembers how the dairy industry successfully convinced the public that a food intended for baby cows is essential for human health. As for protein, have you ever been face-to-face with a leafy-greens loving gorilla? I’m glad I haven’t, for I’m sure I’d soon discover that he’s getting plenty of protein.

    I could go on for 26.2 miles, so instead I’ll let Brendan explain all via Thrive in 30, his new free online guide to improving your performance with plant power. Check it out whether you’re a fitness fanatic or more the Tai Chi type. I’ve just signed up myself even though I traded my Asics for MBTs long ago. Happy thriving!

    By the way, have you joined the Facebook fan page yet? Brendan’s already there, so come and be part of the plant-based party…and bring your friends!

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