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The Principles of Taoism With Solala Towler

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Solala Towler

Solala Towler, Owner of Abode of the Eternal Tao, has been studying and teaching the Taoist arts for over 30 years. His quarterly publication, The Empty Vessel, explores Daoist philosophy and practices for daily living. He is the author of 12 books including Cha Dao and Practicing the Tao Te Ching. Solala is a founding board member and past president of the National Qigong Association and teaches classes on Taoism, Qigong, tea ceremony, and the Dao De Jing on Zoom.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • How Solala Towler began studying and teaching Taoism

  • Solala shares a story from his book, Practicing the Tao Te Ching: 81 Steps On the Way

  • The value of being authentic and spiritual

  • The child archetype

  • Solala's journey in publishing his books

  • Using the mind-body-spirit approach to develop better relationships

  • Why tea time should be a time of celebration

  • Principles of Taoism

In this episode…

Do you struggle with self-discipline? What can you incorporate into your daily routine to live a well-rounded lifestyle?

Practicing the principles of Taoism has many benefits. The art form can help you become adaptable and authentic — leading to better relationships. According to Solala Towler, understanding the mind-body-spirit approach is valuable for solving problems.

In this episode of The Tao of Pizza Podcast, Mark Hiddleson interviews Solala Towler, the Owner of Abode of the Eternal Tao, about the principles of Taoism. They also discuss Solala's books, the mind-body-spirit approach to developing relationships, and the value of being authentic.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode...

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Episode Transcript:

Intro 0:01

Welcome to The Tao of Pizza where we feature top logistics leaders, entrepreneurs, and supply chain innovators and share their inspiring stories with a holistic twist.

Mark Hiddleson 0:17

Mark Hiddleson here, host of The Tao of Pizza Podcast where I talk with top industry innovators in the warehousing, logistics, and supply chain business with a holistic twist. Before I introduce Solala Towler, this episode is sponsored by Specialized Storage Solutions. Look, I've been in the logistics and storage industry for several decades. I know I don't look that old, but it's true. We provide industry leading warehouse storage solutions nationwide. So basically, if you have a warehouse that needs rack, shelving carts, conveyors and mezzanines, we help with design, engineering, installation, inspections, and repairs to help clients optimize their logistics operations. And it's funny sometimes people don't even realize we can actually help with permit acquisition services. So we take a holistic look at your entire business supply chain, and help you develop the resources to continually improve your operation. To learn more, visit our website Or give us a call at 707-732-3892. And one of the best ways to get a hold of me as my personal email which I give to the podcast listeners, it's if you're ready to take your warehouse storage and retrieval systems to the next level number four for introducing Solalah I have to give a big thank you to Vicki Dello Joio, who introduced us and when everybody go check out her website at www Vicky is a life-changing workshop leader, chi energy master teacher, an inspirational speaker for work empowers wellness, motivated and spiritually inclined seekers to infuse body mind spirit practices into their very cells, so they can tap into their birthright of joy. But today, I'm really excited I have solo toddler and solo law Taylor's been studying and teaching the Taoist arts for over 30 years. He published the empty vessel, the Journal of Dallas P,hilosophy and practice for 25 years and has done a dozen books published by such publishers as Watkins singing dragon and sounds true. He's a founding board member and past president of the National Qigong Association, and he teaches regular classes on Taoism Qigong tea ceremony, and the Dao De Jing on Zoom. Solala, welcome to The Tao of Pizza.

Solala Towler 2:40

Thank you. Thanks for inviting me.

Mark Hiddleson 2:43

Yeah, this, this pre when Vicki introduced us, she said it was gonna be a lot of fun. And I knew just from the email exchanges we had, if this is an I'm really looking forward

Solala Towler 2:56

to this. Yeah, I love Vicki, Vicki Dello Joio, so I call her Vicki, joy, joy. That's how I refer to her.

Mark Hiddleson 3:05

And her when I first started practicing with her 20 years ago, I just called her joy, just the word joy. And she is I just had a client I talked to this morning that listened to that podcast and he said, I will never grow tired of listening to her voice. Oh, yeah, she's she's beautiful. So I wanted to ask you first how you got started on the journey of studying and teaching the Dallas arts

Solala Towler 3:40

Well, I'm I'm grew up in the 60s I was very fortunate to come of age in the 60s. It was a long time ago. But in the 60s I got very drawn to Eastern mysticism. So I yoga meditations and you know, there wasn't much Taoism around back then in like 1968 or nine, back in Boston, where I live. And so I kept up with all that stuff. And I was studying pretty seriously Zen Buddhism. But there was something about Zen and it's part of the Japanese cultural overlay where it's, it's a little rigid, physically and, and and even spiritually in a way and so one day, I was in a bookstore in Portland, Oregon, look into these books section I found a book on Taoism by a fella named watching me who later has become my main teacher. And it was like a lot of people have told me this over the years doing the magazine. They said when I discovered Taoism, it was like coming home.

Mark Hiddleson 4:42

To me coming home. It just made sense. I love that. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that's a beautiful story. And so from that you started because it's actually funny the one of the reasons I got into Little Vicki lately is because I saw that she had done an interview with you. Yeah. And I just saw it on LinkedIn. I think so I'm not a big social media person. I'm not on Facebook, but I check out LinkedIn for my professional networking, hang out, especially with when you know when things happen. We couldn't have in person events, I was looking at other ways to connect. And I thought, well, I've seen a lot of the books that I have studied on Taoism. And it's kind of similar to you I was actually born in 1969. I'm always kind of proud of I've always had a passion of exploring. And for me, it's a in an at least it started out I wanted to know like the scientific, like there's people who have been studying this for 1000s of years. There's a science to it. There's a methodology. And so I was taking martial arts like Aikido, learn Qigong workshops were, Vicky uses her martial arts practice for like communication and spiritual growth. However, she calls spiritual fitness. In that actually, I interviewed her and then she said, Oh, yeah. Soleil, he's a great guy. I want to introduce yourself. Just a neat way. I don't believe in coincidences, but because it's just happening at the right time.

Solala Towler 6:19

Well, you know, the Chinese have a term called un fun. Give me young fun. y UANFE en un fun is like, when you meet someone, and you just have an immediately karmic connection that you recognize, you know, when it's someone you may have known from other lives, you know, some and it's just, it's a nice idea. Other than, Oh, I really hit it off with that person. Like, we have been fun together. In song. It's made again. That's why you a NFE en un fun and fun. Yeah. And to that story of that question you asked me, yes. When I first started studying Taoism, I had been sick for 10 years, with something called chronic fatigue syndrome. Until I was totally bedridden, had three children, a wife, a business, I was going to Chinese medicine school had a drop. Well, I kept the kids and the wife but I had to drop everything else. And Chinese herbs are what got me out of bed. And then Chi Gong is were cured me of a Western considered an incurable disease. That's some sort of autoimmune diseases, what they think, Wow, really put me on this path. And I saw, for sure, it wasn't just ideas, philosophy, it was practice, it was real.

Mark Hiddleson 7:41

Yeah, that is such an amazing story of healing, actual physical healing, not just from a spiritual practice to heal the physical body. That's amazing. Well, you move the nerves about as we you asked me the great question is the why is it The Tao of Pizza? And I love that question. And it started out as is. I wanted to publish The Tao of Pizza project started out as a book that I wanted to work on. And, you know, just kind of wanting to share some of the resources that I've learned over the way of kind of like you were talking about ill through business and trauma and family issues, and just the practices that I've learned, and from different Western Eastern used to say I was, I'm a Christian with Buddhist tendencies, I wouldn't I would advise that I've had similar situation with you where I've studied Zen or Aikido, or anything when I started was all this is all talking about the Dow, the Dow, the Dow. But the funny reason is there in 9075, there's a book and it was a bestseller by Fritjof Capra called Dow physics, right. I know. And originally, I wanted to write The Tao of Pizza because The Tao of Physics was too hard. Oh, okay. So his, his premise or his you know, the subtitle was an exploration of the parallels between like Western science and Eastern mysticism. And so my experience has been similar I'm I'm not he's a thing is he's an astrophysicist or some kind of nuclear, like super quantum physicists guy and I'm a rock salesmen. But I've had the same. I see the parallels, you know, the parallels between western and eastern philosophy that there's a lot more similarities and there's Aldous Huxley. Huxley is the perennial, the perennial philosophy. And so the Dow is kind of that energy that primordial you know, thing that we all want to name but then once you name it is not the same thing as what you're trying to explain in the past. to is that I've applied, I applied the, you know, to develop my mind, body and spirit to serve at home, in business and in the community so that, you know, it's not a perfect pizza that you can but some to understand things you kind of have to divide it up. So, pizza is mind, body, and spirit. And then I can develop myself in these three ways to be of service to my family, or I call it home, you you said you use the word home and I like your home because you're home, you're part of my home, we're in home business, and then you know, ultimately serve the community. So that does what's called The Tao of Pizza. And everybody loves pizza. And everybody loves pizza. And it's, it's not quite as serious as physics, but I do. Yeah.

Solala Towler 10:48

But actually, it's very good. What you're doing because they're really study that was was not just the sort of mystical Chinese thing is, how can you use what you learn in all parts of your life, relationship, business, health, all the parts, so that it's not just some foreign mystical thing. But it's, it's very real. It's very, really touchable and holdable. And use useful.

Mark Hiddleson 11:13

Yeah, and I want to share something with you. And I feel comfortable. Just because I did fill the I forgot to say it again, learn how to spell it. The yawn, fun. Oh, un fun, yen fun. The day we set up this meeting, I knew I was actually I was researching. I thought we were going to do the podcasts on that day. So a bit of research, and we ended up just having a short conversation. But I read I have your book, enter chapters, I'm not sure if you will, is one of the dozen and I mark little pages.

Solala Towler 11:51

I have all those.

Mark Hiddleson 11:55

And the one that I marked a long time ago, it was about some friends, and I want to change my glasses. I want to read this. Okay, there were four friends. Say the names wrong. I'm gonna apologize and exactly. I love I love saying the names, but it's up to you to lead and to live. But their basic thing is, is whoever they had a discussion and they said, Whoever will make his non being his head, life is backbone. And death is tailbone. Who understands that life and death, existence and non existence are the same. That man's will be your friend in the forum laughed in agreement, and they remain friends. And this goes on to tell about their passing on. And I knew I had read that in my new my father was in the last days of his life when when you and I had that conversation. And I almost when he said I feel at home, I got chills when he said that because I'd read that. He said I'm at home. And what you said about this isn't theory that we're you know, mumbo jumbo. When it's real, you fill it, you know, and I was able to have a really beautiful conversation with my dad that day. We never put it in these words. But these this is the kind of relationship I had with my dad. And we would, you know, we would often laugh like that That's the paradox of life is that the only way out is, you know, in the cycle of life, birth and death. So would you mind saying something about that story, or?

Solala Towler 13:29

Well, that's from a book called the drunk, which was a book written about 500 years after the Delta Jing. Delta Jing is a book that many people know it's the most famous book of Taoism, it's actually, believe it or not, it's the second most widely translated book in the world after the Bible was written 2500 years ago. And it's still being read new versions are coming out every year. And millions of people have read it. And the thing about the Delta Jing, that little bit like I was talking about earlier, a lot of people think of Delta Jing is a book of statecraft, or political commentary or things like that, because he talks a lot about the emperor in the state. But to Dallas, the Delta Jing is a book is a manual for self cultivation, if you know how to read it correctly. So I'll do a little commercial here for my book. Yeah, please. Yeah. This my book is called practicing the doubt pitching at one steps on the way does anyone chapters, most of them are very short. And so what I've done is I'm not translating this from classical Chinese. It's my interpretation after studying this stuff for so many years. And so I have I, I am reading it from Dallas viewpoint of how you can use these ideas for your life and then I have a comment theory to explain what it means that I have a practice for every chapter. Simple Qi Gong meditation lifestyle practice. So for 81 chapters is 81 practices. So a lot of people use this in their classes to go and teachers and I've been doing. I've been doing a weekly class undoubted Jing for almost three years now. Since before COVID. Nice friend of mine helped me learn how to use Zoom to know you know, zooms how we're connecting. Yeah. And it's like I call the Internet.

Mark Hiddleson 15:33

Cyber Tao. Oh, that's

Solala Towler 15:38

our that's how we're meeting, right? Yeah. Is he in the same, same place? Spiritually heartfully. Even if we're not in the same room, it's not as great as being with the live with people. But it's what we have. And it's been a wonderful tool for many, many people. So I do three classes a week on on data Jing so on Qigong and Taoism. So, delta Jing written 2500 years ago, dZongsar 500 years later. What's interesting, I love JAXA because drunk says book you have the book. It's a lot of mostly stories. And really paradoxical, ridiculous stories like the one you just referred to. Yeah, we're lotsa is more or less kind of calm, you know, the wise teacher and drunks is okay, how do we get out of the box? The box that society, religion, culture, our parents or education system puts us in? How do we break out of that box to be free people? is a term in Taoism co generan, which is their idea of like a self realized person. Genuine means authentic person. You'll see it sometimes translate is like the true man or the perfect man. But what it actually means is authentic person meaning. Who are you authentically? Most people have no idea. Yeah, find out discover who you are your authentic self, and then express that to the world.

Mark Hiddleson 17:09

And that's exactly what my dad told me when he was studying psychology in Berkeley in the 60s, actually, during the same time. And he said he changed from Spanish to psychology because he wanted to become in the words he used were a real person. Oh, really. But I would call authentic and real, I would use the word whole person, but whole person even kind of is confusing, but like, an authentic, authentic is the word I love and finding out. And he just said it was a lot harder. You know, it took him he said it was really the last 10 years of his life that he kind of figured out and I asked him what he meant by a spiritual relationship, because he told me of his sister, and one of my cousins is nice that he had a spiritual relationship with. And I said, What did you mean by that? And what he meant by that was I could share anything, anything without shame or guilt. And he said, it's like the relationship I have with you. And so you know, it was really, him. I just love the that happened. And I don't I don't believe in coincidences. So again, the fact that I talked you said that. And then the other thing is one of the prayers that my dad is having my youngest son read, is paradox of prayer. Like when you ask for strength, you get weakness, but oh, oh. And then another coincidence happen is our pastor this week, he gave a sermon on the kingdom paradoxes, and in the way he listed them as the last will be first, the least will become the greatest, the weak, become strong, the foolish confound the wise, that love that one. Those who give it all away, end up with the most those who hang on to everything lose what they had. And those who lose their life, which really meaning ego, for the sake of the group, find their life. And if you want to be the greatest in the kingdom, you must become the servant of all. It's a meeting that strikes my heart exactly the same way. The Dow is that is that,

Solala Towler 19:23

too, if you want to become strong first weekend, he has a whole chapter on that exact thing.

Mark Hiddleson 19:29

So I love that word connected. Love the word connected at this time. And if there's another one is so that the Tai Chi Symbol, that's another reason it's called The Tao of Pizza is because of love the agitation. Yeah. And I always say in in Yang, because I feel like if I say young, how do you pronounce it isn't anything wrong or young? I know it's young, I always say Yang, because it's just kind of the popular. Yeah, your macular, and people. And I know you like the pronunciation to be what it is. And I think that's important too. And then also, I know people call it The Tao of Pizza. I know that they haven't listened to

Solala Towler 20:17

cars, if you didn't know, you would, of course a T, is because Chinese is his pictorial language, its characters. And when they were trying to see how can we put these characters in the western alphabet, they came up with this system called Wade Giles, which is very problematic, because for some reason, Tao, they spell with a tee. And of course, if you didn't know it, you were assuming as to how to Ching, definitely press down the Jing. And we were talking earlier, de Deus, which most people translated is virtue. That's part of it. But it also means spiritual power, spiritual potency. Someone who has a lot of spiritual energy, whatever religion they're in whatever spiritual path people that are high level spiritual people, you can feel their spiritual energy. It's, it's a strength that they've created, or developed through sometimes very, very challenging times.

Mark Hiddleson 21:17

Yeah, yeah. And I'm, I'm going through one of those challenging times. And I'm glad that I have the, you know, the support system, the practices, the people, the relationships around me, and then, you know, this practice, really. So, I also wanted to talk to you about another another story, I think it's in the same, it's, um, I've been pronouncing the author of the inner chapters wrong. How do you?

Solala Towler 21:51

Well, very few people in the West known our vices drunk,

Mark Hiddleson 21:55

Drunk, so it's drawn almost like drop it. Like, yeah, yeah, like a J. drunks. Now that the,

Solala Towler 22:05

the same thing and the author of this book louds up, does not actually his name isn't Mr. De, it's like, it's a title, it means master. And the one who wrote this book, Lao Tzu is called the Old Master. But also very interesting. The character the can also mean child. Sometimes you'll see translate as the old child of the old boy, or becoming a child to enter the kingdom, you know, bring the children to me, you know,

Mark Hiddleson 22:35

there's a lot of those kinds of things. Yeah, I actually, just the podcast that came out this week was, I've been doing a series on archetypes. And I was actually going to talk to you about this as a child as an archetype. And, and I was thinking about this and having this conversation with us, like why archetypes are super Western, and it's like Greek mythology. But then I was thinking about the doubts also, I think if it's the natural way, or the way of nature, those archetypes show up in nature, like the child that's nature, that's we've just named it in the West, this child with better energy. And my dad and the same my last conversation with my dad, we talked about the distinction between being childlike, and child ish.

Solala Towler 23:21

That's a big, that's an important make Claire need to reach out dish. You know, there are people that are great artists, and, and they're really brutal to everyone and they're around or their relationships. And people would give them all that leeway because they're an artist. So called spiritual teachers said, abused their students, you know, well, they're, they're enlightened. They know better than I do. This seems fishy to me. But what do I know? I'm just a student. You know, all that stuff is really crap. Bullshit. Really?

Mark Hiddleson 23:55

Yeah. Yeah, in my I just kind of rolled the dice to talk about nine archetypes that I really identify with, like the clown, the the knight in shining armor, Don Juan. But child is one that we all we all have in, it came up under business, like how the child's relate. And a lot of my business, the way I've had some success is by finding mentors who were almost like father figures were really curious about things and not being a know it all of just trying to say teach me and then some people have taught me some amazing things that I could have never learned on my own by just kind of being childlike. And curious.

Solala Towler 24:36

Well, you know, one of the main principles of Taoism is the wisdom is called The Wisdom of foolishness.

Mark Hiddleson 24:41

I love that say more about that.

Solala Towler 24:46

There's a lot of them in JAXA, even in lots of this, one of my favorite chapters is chapter 20. And he's describing himself or person describing themselves as they're looking around the world and everybody seems to know what they're doing. They all see Have it together. They're all you know, chasing that dream, you know, and I'm sitting off in the corner and they look at me like, like us, they think of me as stupid or childish, or, you know, but he says the last two lines are, but I am different from these others, because I am nourished by the great mother.

Mark Hiddleson 25:21

That's one of the chapters I have marked in here. It's one of my favorites, all because then you go with another one of mine is the 25th chapter, which talks about the you know, the chaos? And well, actually, that's different. But yeah, I was looking at that one, the other people have more than enough, I alone seem to have lost everything. I'm fully other people are clear. While I'm confused.

Solala Towler 25:49

Yeah. Are there they're at races going on, but I'm not a part of it. And so they look at me like Dell stupid. From those others, is connected to source source with a capital S, which is a word I bought in my book for Dow. It's sort of the source of all the mystic paths, right? All the Mystic Quest is about how to become one with source whether it's God, Allah, Tao, Buddha, all and people do prayer contemplation, chi, Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, all these things that help these people get back to that source that we all know we came from, and we may have lost our connection. And people feel like, there's something missing in my life, I have a great house, I have a great relationship. I'm doing well in business. But there's something missing. What is that that's missing? What missing? Is that connection to Source? And there's a lot of tools we have to discover that.

Mark Hiddleson 26:50

Yeah, and so so tell us share a little bit about your like, what are their turning points in teaching? And publishing a dozen books? It's, it's fine. Well, after working on one, I know that with all the research that I've done, I've done a ton of research to do 12 ideas. Tell me about that journey. The first maybe just the first, you know, going from, from research to publishing that what was that journey?

Solala Towler 27:25

I had good. You know, I published a few myself. And then I've worked with really great I've worked with three British publishers actually, for some reason I have some un fun with his British publishers. I have a book this one called Tales from the Dow. And these are 2000 year old stories from the Taoist tradition that I'm like retelling some of them are only like two paragraphs long. So I'm retelling it and this book is very artistic because they have these great nature photographs that are printed in black and silver on glossy paper is three dimensional. And I've done three books with these guys one of Zen stories also who's the publisher on that

Mark Hiddleson 28:10

one, Salah can stick hold Watkins Watkins is the one that did the inner chapters to

Solala Towler 28:16

Yeah, they're the oldest esoteric publishing house in England started in the 1800s. Wow. And I've done two books with with sounds true who are also great people to work with their their main offices in Colorado and the two times I've been out to visit them. One year I went out and taught a Qigong class to people who work there. Another time we went out and did a tea ceremony for the people who work there. So they're very open minded people. And he is something a lot of people don't realize that if you go to Taoist temples in China, or what I do is take groups to China to go up in the mountains and study with Taoist masters. And people they do. It's called Gongfu tea ceremony. It's another one of those words that spelled wacky KU and G. Fu kung fu people, of course that we're going through. And actually there is a new system called opinion system where for instance, this would be spelled da o but my publisher said well people are used to seeing it with a T or might confuse people so some some of my publishers let me use the D and some doubt but um, but tea ceremony using t as a meditation is a metaphor for life slowing down, following what what in Taoism, we call the watercourse way going with the flow Monzo going slowly, we drink these interesting teas called pour tea, which is like a fermented tea that comes in a hard break that you have to break up into the tea and there's certain little things that we do, it's not in Japan, they have a Zen tea ceremony that's very long and very formal. But the Chinese do The Chinese are just a little more easygoing culturally than Japanese. So the tea ceremony is, is a lot more fun. I'm doing a public one on Sunday tour for a whole group of people. I asked them to like

Mark Hiddleson 30:11

80 people at a time, that will kindly group the anticipate this weekend. A friend

Solala Towler 30:17

of mine who's a Qigong teacher in a Dallas, he's bringing a bunch of his like martial arts friends. Ah, yeah. And I, and I did one of the QA, the National Qigong Association, the last conference they had in person to like 80 people. That's awesome. And there's little paper cups, that got passed around, and everybody has their tea. And there's little things you do to connect to the three treasures of jing chi and Shan and you're doing it as meditation. And, like, I have this other book called Tea mind tea heart, which is poems, stories, articles about tea and tea, mind and Taoist. There's also one on Tibetan. When I went to Tibet, the tea ceremony there also. So it's part of our practice, is Taoism that allows us says a lot get out of your head and into your belly. Let go of your intellectual mind, especially people in the West, people who are considered really other than being you know, like a rock star or something. People are very educated, they have a lot of degrees. They're very intellectually developed. But emotionally, they're often really messed up. And physically also, though, ism is about not only do we want to have a clear mind, we want to have balanced emotions. And we want to have strong chi strong lifeforce. Yeah, so it's not just meditating all the time, or studying books all the time we do we do those also. But also, we work with our vitals force, and connected with the vital force of the universe. It is unique that way.

Mark Hiddleson 31:56

It really is. And I just when I first I just I got lucky, I don't believe in luck, either. I chose I chose to study. In 2001, the economy was doing some weird things. I just gotten out of college and graduated, and I was Mr. I forget what you call it, I was in the rat race. And they felt like I was winning. Like, you know, I'd have spent a lot of time in my education practice. And I've always had, you know, a mind body spirit approach to life. And, you know, things were going well within, when the economy really took a hit, really, everybody was hit. And then there was a shock to my system that, you know, all this, I would call it striving or thriving. There's this underlying thing. If everything's tied to economic stuff, that stuff's all slippery. And I wanted to go back to school because I knew education was something that I could, you know, rely on to teach whether the economy goes up or down, you can build value develop yourself. So I was thinking about getting like an MBA in finance or something. But something hit me very strongly. In it was a voice. And I do hear voices I don't hear at all. But it was definitely reasonable. Definitely a voice that said, study the mind body problem, because that was one of the last things I did. And in my undergraduate, I had to take some classes, I already had everything I needed for economics. So it was like, take two things of anything. And I took metaphysics and nutrition, which you think like, well, those two things are two different things. But for me, I was taking it together and connecting the dots. And I was thinking, Yeah, well, this mind body is something that thing that nobody's figured it out, like, fill in philosophy. That's kind of like the first verse of the Dao De Jing Tao de Ching, that the Jing Yeah. That you once you put something into words or concepts or philosophies, it's, you don't not really describing reality. And now the real reality, the real reality,

Solala Towler 34:06

then you've got it in a box and the Okay, I know what it is because it's in this box. And so it's the same thing to everyone. But everyone has a different relationship to source. Yeah, matter what religion there are just their own personal, you know, inclination, they have a different viewing.

Mark Hiddleson 34:25

And I started getting away from the rat race and the interesting thing that happened and my boss when I told him, You know, I was a commissioned salesperson, and he said, Oh, when you start doing your master's degree, your sales are gonna go down. 40% Which ended up happening is they ended up doubling, because I was nourishing the source. Relationships are coming easier things were, you know, the non force was starting to feel this energy. I had more energy. I wasn't as tired. I wasn't. And you know, I was spending extra time or I was I was investing time, but it was in classes with people like Vicki, you know, I did a five day retreat. And there were other teachers Wendy Palmer teaches Aikido so but immediately as I started to move in do you know learn about nature and our bodies I just like you said it was home. And you can feel it.

Solala Towler 35:22

Can I share a short poem with you,

Mark Hiddleson 35:24

I was to. This is about a thing, I would love to hear about the TA.

Solala Towler 35:30

So it's here, this chapter 744. And it's called every tea should be a time of celebration. So every teaming tea ceremony or just getting together with friends, when we drink tea, which in Chinese called pin mean, there's a phrasing in Chinese and I've got the Chinese in here, but it's called pin Ming, learn Tao, which means savor tea, discuss Tao savor, not just glugging tea but really savoring it and, and that it could be Kunming drinking coffee, you know, just wine, something that you're really slowing down and savoring, Disgust out can be having high philosophical talks, or just sharing from your heart what's going on in your life. So that's one of the things we keep in mind with the whole tea ceremony thing. When we drink tea, we celebrate the magical transformation of leaf and water contained in the cup or bowl from which we drink. The tea leaves that appear so dead and dry, when paired with hot water become transformed from dry dead leaf to a living the core, connecting the drinker with the land that the tea or Bush grew from the hands that pick the buds or leaves, and processed them a hard labor, the seller of the tea brings the tea to us, our own hands and mouth touching the tea, our spirits becoming calm and centered as we drink the magical brew. So it is that we celebrate this coming together of hand and heart of land and leaf of sunlight and moonlight, and our own sweet selves. We give thanks and praises for the opportunity and the blessing of sharing ourselves. With the ancient magic of water, earth and sunlight. So bright, so life giving, we celebrate the coming together of all these things, these gifts given freely of the earth and the sky. In this way, every tea becomes a celebration of gratitude and grace.

Mark Hiddleson 37:43

Ah, thank you. That is awesome. Is that in the T that's in there. And we're gonna have links to all your groups in the in the show notes. So, yes, and I have these

Solala Towler 38:01

50 color photographs of tea in nature, a cup of tea with a leaf that just fell into it while I was taking the photo. So it has a lot of things like that. And it has it's, it's like I said, it's not just drinking a beverage. It's really sharing something with people. Yeah, and

Mark Hiddleson 38:19

what we call tea in our family is it's the it's the good rumors, like that's a popular thing. You're saying, share the tea, which is a fairly good like, Did you hear anything good. I mean, it can kind of be in the negative. I don't practice a habit of not gossiping. But it's, you're actually saying in a positive way. Like let's share the things that are making us more whole or more connected to the earth and the nature and or do you take the phone? Are they your photographs? Or do Yeah,

Solala Towler 38:52

these are all my photographs? Yeah. So you see the tea is very dark for tea. So I have things in here how to do a tea ceremony what what is poor about and this stories from, and just photographs of all my tea cups, which include food tea, we use a little bitty tea pots and little bitty cups.

Mark Hiddleson 39:16

So and we drink it very slowly. Nice. So you're savoring. Yeah, we I live in the wine country. Oh, and lead. The lot of the thing the imagery in the way that it's produced in the you can taste I always thought it was BS that you could taste you know the difference between the dirt and the microclimate, but it's amazing. Yeah. And and the ones who were farmers, they put a lot of their farmers put a lot of their energy into, you know, so what we're receiving as a gift really from the farmer on the earth. Every wine tasting should be a celebration.

Solala Towler 39:56

And there is a tea there's a kind of tea pour tea that's naturally fermented like a wine, they make the tea, they process it. And then they put it on a shelf like wine for 1020, even 30 years, and then you would drink it. And it's unbelievably expensive, just like really old wine. Yeah. But there's also a kind of pour tea with a fast track it so that you don't have to wait so long and it's not so expensive. So we drink my partner and I drink tea together every day. And we're we're really I've been gathering rainwater to make the tea proud. Painting here a lot in Oregon. It was one really dry summer, lots of fires, and it was raining like every single day for a week.

Mark Hiddleson 40:43

That is, yeah, that's what it is in Oregon. I notice I was riding the train. But my daughter's going to school in Corvallis. And I was on the train from Portland and it kind of goes along. There's a river but there's a lot of creek beds. And at the same time in California, all those creek beds were empty are really small. But in Oregon, their flow. Oregon has water.

Solala Towler 41:07

Well, I think you mentioned your daughter's going to school in Corvallis. But next time you go to visit her, Eugene is like an hour away, come and have tea. We have a tea room, we'll do the whole tea thing for

Mark Hiddleson 41:17

you. You know, I mentioned that to my wife and my wife. We're there. We're definitely we're actually driving up there this week. It's gonna be this weekend. But it's again, we're driving our motor home. Or yeah, we're going to camp out with the, at the local Walmart with the rest of the people camping in California. And a Walmart like in a parking lot. No, I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding. Oh. You do

Solala Towler 41:48

see these days? You see? Well, people are living in all kinds of places. Right?

Mark Hiddleson 41:52

It's one of the interesting things that's happening right now.

Solala Towler 41:58

Very sad.

Mark Hiddleson 41:59

That's sad. Yeah.

Solala Towler 42:05

Vicki is, is a great, you know, you mentioned her you had her on earlier. And he that was him is about being authentic, but also being joyful, loves us as if we didn't laugh, that wouldn't be Tao. And she's a great person, cuz she's very heartful and brings a lot of joy into it. And if you're just going to, we're gonna do Chi Gong and talk about the Dow, you know, it's just something missing. From the end. There are some very famous to go on teachers, I won't name names, but they're very serious about it and very formal. And you just don't get that spark. Yeah, the energy in the joy. Yeah.

Mark Hiddleson 42:48

So one of the things I want to ask you about is, you know, for a while I was looking for, you know, what are the things because every practice, there's like eight tenets or a, you know, principles and I kind of knew about the tension between opposites and montage, attune, non force or go with the flow. That's some of the ones I could just name. But you have a pretty you're one of the only people I've seen any kind of have a list of principles of Taoism. Would you mind just kind of sharing?

Solala Towler 43:21

Yeah, well, one you mentioned probably the most, the most important one is called Wu Wei. And of course, the spell Wu, w e i, so of course, you would think is rude way, but I'll transfer to a source, you know, not a problem. He's no, not well, it directly translated means not doing but it means not overdoing, not over extending, not pushing the river, not forcing something to happen. It is that we just create something. We create the environment for something good to come out of it. And we're not forcing our opinion on other people. Or we're not forcing ourselves you know, I need to meditate eight hours a day, I'll never going to become enlightened or, or you know that thing. When you're in a good cycle. Everything's going well realize that at some point that's going to turn because we're all going through cycles, high and low. During your high cycle, Don't overextend. Don't spend all your money No, no take on too many projects, and realize that eventually you're going to be in a low state. When you're in a low cycle, don't give up hope and get miserable and depressed. Remember that that is also going to shift that's the Yin Yang is always shifting. Yeah. Book of Changes the eaching that is another book we use in Taoism, that's like 4000 years old. So and the idea that I mentioned earlier Monzo going slowly, eating slowly, listening slowly moving slowly. And the watercourse way, which is going with the flow and also being And like there's a famous interview with Bruce Lee, the great martial artist, who also study Dallas and one of his books is called The Tao of G KUNDO. And he's being interviewed by this Westerner. And he's talking about the adaptability of water, you put it in a round container becomes round, put it in the square, ContainerD square. And the famous line he's saying, be like water, my friend. Yeah, but the idea that depending what situation we're in, we may not have chosen that situation. But can we be adaptable a little bit? Can we at least be a little comfortable or find a way that we can work with that situation? The water of course, way?

Mark Hiddleson 45:39

And I've also heard on watercourse I would like to ask you this is just to ask for you to weigh in on this. I've also heard water can shape things. It's slowly it's it's kind of a non force way. But water ultimately shapes. Stone, you'd think that stone is a strong material, but the water just slowly slowly. Shapes. Like we get the Grand Canyon. Exactly. So water took the shape of something, but then it created a shape.

Solala Towler 46:10

Yeah, yeah, water is you can stick your hand in water. It's stuff. Yeah. And we're down stone or you know, when it's a tsunami, it can destroy old, you know, houses and villages, islands. It has a power. People who are surfers. You know that it's like a practice. They're doing a balance. And it's like a Qigong practice. I've never surfed I was wondering, in my next life to be a Beach Blonde surfer guy in Southern California. I'm from New England, you know, Roman Catholic, New England, depressed people. But um, you know, going with the wave, right? You're not forcing the wave to go with you. You're going with the wave and keeping a balance on there. And it becomes like a beautiful dance. Yeah, it isn't. It can sit with your life, sir. There through your life. Like you're a beautiful Hawaiian surfer.

Mark Hiddleson 47:01

That was my first goal to was to be and I actually tried to surf and I actually can, I've done the last one ever stand up paddleboarding came out, I started that, and for the same reasons, because the other thing is, it's beautiful. And you can catch a wave and it is the energy. It's like all the energy it takes you to get out into the water. I remember times I didn't even want to put on my wetsuit and we were all approaching our 40s we got our wetsuit Buddy was like Ma'am, I need to take a break. You do all this work to get out. And the other thing I love about it is you're not going to win against the ocean. Like I'm a very strong swimmer. But there's times in the ocean. You just You just have to relax or you're gonna hurt yourself or you know, so that is a very it's a great and I love the there's Dallas art of the wave. There's waves. Is that a famous image? Or do people here's a famous.

Solala Towler 48:01

Japanese would cut print of the wave the Great Wave? Yeah. Yeah. So I love my teacher, my main Tao is Teacher Hachi knees 100. And either two or 104 right now. And one of his books. He said, I can describe the perfect Taoist lifestyle in three words, take it easy. And that sort of that surfer thing of you know, we're just following the waves. We're taking it easy. We're not, you know, we're not trying to figure it out with our brain. We have to you have to feel the wave. Is this the right way you should take or is it not the right wave? It may look pretty good. But you can see it's breaking in the wrong place. It's not going to take you where you want to go. Or it may even drown you. Yeah, so that being sensitive that way of the wave here. I just thought of this the way you have to work a little bit to get out there. And once you get out there you relax. And then you use your intuition your experience of being on waves you can tell what's a good one to catch. And then you just get out there and the wave just carries you. Yeah, anybody can live their life that way. Yeah,

Mark Hiddleson 49:11

does another one of the only other authors I've had a couple authors besides you and Vicki on streaming route another episode he wrote a book called The unmistakable creative why being the only is better than being the best. And each chapter instead of being the best, being the only is betting being the best. So kind of like the the authenticity things it's better to be your own true self. And he uses the surfing metaphors each chapter so the first chapter out loud in the lineup and the drop the impact zone because the other thing about surfing is you can wipe off really are as people get killed. Yeah. And so he his chapters were all was always that was a cool way to outline a book Look or describe a process is everything has the paddle out, you know, in the, in the lineup wherever, you know the better surfers get the better waves and you know Yeah,

Solala Towler 50:09

yeah, because they're more experienced they mean the time to learn it. I have a friend who has a whole though his book on motorcycle. It's called The Tao of the ride. Yeah, he's got a book, Vicki knows him to Francesco get her poli, his name

Mark Hiddleson 50:27

I almost call my book that because it is like a ride in it. It's fun, I got frustrated because people were talking about curves. And there was a book I read. It's a really good book called strength to strength, but he was talking about jumping from your fluid intelligence curve to your crystallized intelligence curve. But it was like jumping curves. I don't know I just didn't like the metaphor enough. Flatten the curve, jump a curve like this. That doesn't mean anything. But the ride the wave. That is like something you find in nature, you find that?

Solala Towler 51:05

Oh, yeah, that was really nature's the greatest teacher better than any book, any workshop you can do. Nature follow nature. They were living in an agrarian society, they were looking at nature. They were watching the seasons change. They were watching animals that animals got sick or injured, what plants did they go, we will maybe we should try those plants. We should try a different combination of plants, the guy named Shen neum, who created all the Dainese herbal formulas that are still used today. 1000s of years ago, he poisoned himself many times trying different herbs. And then he would have to come up with an antidote. So he learned this is how he learned he didn't just read a book about herbs, he actually went out and gave his life to it. And people still use those formulas today.

Mark Hiddleson 51:54

So Oh, that's such a beautiful, I was laughing because I was thinking all the times I've taken poison in my life. And I've had to learn my

Solala Towler 52:02

Yeah, it can be emotional poison intellectual boys in physical poison. Yeah, there's a lot of ways that people take in poison.

Mark Hiddleson 52:12

So yeah, yeah, like one of my favorite sayings is resentment is like taking poison and hoping somebody else dies. You know, resentment that you have. It's really, whoever the resentments toward inserting yourself. We only have a few more minutes. And

Solala Towler 52:29

wow, that went by fast. It went by

Mark Hiddleson 52:31

so fast. I don't really want to do this. Because I had other stuff. But can you tell us how to connect with your work? I really I love the T Serrana. Definitely,

Solala Towler 52:42

I'm probably just go to my website.

Mark Hiddleson 52:45

So your website will have to bow down and link to it because you spell it with a D right? It's a both a B ODETAOT. Al so that

Solala Towler 52:56

is totally because I started that website like 30 years ago. So okay, I love it. My classes are on there. I do a weekly class we do the practices, booting the doubt aging and have another class I called free and easy wandering, which is this drunks a guy that you like, is this the he said the more ideal lifestyle of a Dao as he called it free and easy wondering, that should be your lifestyle, what what your how you're living your life. So I have a class where we go more into the junk sense stuff. And then I worked with a company called Insight Timer. I don't know if you know them. I have a meditation app. That's International. And I do classes on there with sometimes like 150 People from all over the world. And it's a free app, Insight Timer, kind of a funny name. But it's a meditation app. And they have literally half a million people every day logging onto that site. And you can download it for free and I have a lot there are 1000s of teachers literally, I have at least 12 guide free guided meditations, my meditation music, I'm recorded with big Tibetan bowls and flutes and things. People can extra sell that for free. And there's many, many teachers it's it's a really amazing resource for people, especially now that the world has been shut down. How can we get on to cyber Tao and share with each other? This we talked about in the pandemic about having your pod, right, your group that you felt safe with? And so what we're doing when we get together like this, and as groups, we're creating a pod in cyber Doh, that we feel safe with that we want to share with that we want to enjoy our time with

Mark Hiddleson 54:44

Yeah, yeah, and this is beautiful, and I never I was late adopter because I thought there's no way because I've done these in person. I mean, I've been moved, touch moved inspired in person and it's like it has to be in person and I've taken with You know what I would call, you know, classes on transformation or spiritual fitness or however you name that and thinking there's no way. And it's amazing because there's some trade offs of being able more people can join more people feel comfortable to share their authentic self, because you're not right there. So there's some trade offs that it's really nice. And then you can have more connections. I mean, you and I can connect like, this isn't in the same room, and yet we're in different.

Solala Towler 55:32

We're in cyber down together cyber dial.

Mark Hiddleson 55:36

So I, is there, is there anything else you want to share? I mean, this has just been an absolute blast. I've had some fun, I've learned. And I'm gonna keep going. I love the pronunciation because I want to say it right? I'm like, and so if you get if you get a text

Solala Towler 55:59

the new system is called pinion pi N Y. And, again, most things the way they're pronounced, there are still little problems like the word Chi Gong, spelled with a Q, which is a little problematic. And of course, people People would call me and say, What is Qigong? You know,

Mark Hiddleson 56:17

because, of course

Solala Towler 56:18

you wouldn't, if you didn't know already, I like

Mark Hiddleson 56:21

to spell it ch E. You know, because even if you still see a DI, it still could be a little confusing. But if you say chi, like, Oh, I've heard of that I have a lot of people

Solala Towler 56:33

he's working with or playing with.

Mark Hiddleson 56:37

Which is another word for energy,

Solala Towler 56:39

or, yeah, vital, everything that is alive has to judge his people, animals, plants, rivers, oceans, of trees, stars, you know, there's universal Qi, everything that is alive, that we live in a world of Qi, which is why Qi Gong is like, how can we access some of that Qi? And how can we circulate that in our body? And then how can we store some of it like in our lower dantian, for instance, so we, this is just how to open yourself to having access to the wisdom, that she has a kind of intelligence about it also, that it can work on us. For what we need. People are ill, you know, people have health problems, whether it's physical health, emotional health, psychological health problems, it works on all those levels. It's a beautiful gift that Dow ism has given the world, it really is, and how to access it, and play with it.

Mark Hiddleson 57:38

Play that's a child like and play with that, boy, we're gonna be checking out more of your stuff. Again, we'll have all of this in our show notes so that more people can connect. I hope that people I mean, I'm gonna reach out to people in person and I think this is this is great. You're, I appreciate your work. Your books have added a lot to my life already. And then I've wanted to reach out to you before but I feel a lot better about this. Because this we can share, email, just conversation, we'll reach out. But But I think people are gonna get a lot out of this conversation. Thank you. Thank you very much. You.

Solala Towler 58:20

Yeah, this has been a pleasure. Okay, well, thanks for inviting me and hosting me.

Outro 58:25

Thanks for listening to The Tao of Pizza Podcast. We'll see you again next time and be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.


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