One aspect of Taoist cultivation is engaging with the philosophical teachings through reciting and listening to Taoist scriptures, as well as studying Taoist scriptures with commentaries, learning how to interpret them properly, and then applying the teachings to your practice and daily life, with a sincere dedication to personal transformation.
To understand the practice of listening to Taoist scriptures, one need only look at the roots of Taoism. The idea of Taoism can be boiled down to one idea, just follow nature. In order to follow nature, one must listen to nature. Not in the sense of analyzing what’s heard, just by purely and simply listening. Imagine sitting in a quiet forest and just allowing the sounds to come to you without trying to discern and calculate them. This is precisely the way you should listen to the scriptures. There’s no trying to understand the words and, more importantly, no being distracted by the words.
Listening to scriptures in Taoism goes far back into history as many temples and monasteries would have a cantor read certain scriptures during meal times and some meditation periods. Aside from the obvious contemplative benefits, it is also an amazing method of acquiring the wisdom of Taoist philosophy without the anxiety of study. I’ve come to understand this method as a fusing of practice and theory into one, and it actually helped me understand the Taoist ideal of wei wu wei, best translated as “active non-calculating.” Listening to a scripture is active, but the mental response is non-active.
—Stuart Alve Olson, Taoist Chanting and Recitation
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