Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | April 2, 2012

Weathering the Storm; Time of Discernment

The I Ching makes it clear that even for the superior person(a person of high moral character in line with the Sage), times of adversity are inevitable. Inferior influences will work their way into our lives, whether it be our own shortcomings, or another person or set of circumstances.

Sometimes, our circumstances change. We may be going along fine, feeling secure and strong, working hard, doing what we are supposed to do, but then things change and a storm brews, and blows in. Our ego throws us off balance. We want to fight back, we want to prove we are right, we want to jump ship and walk out. The I Ching gives some clear advice, some not so clear, and it takes time of reflection to absorb the teachings and figure out how you’re going to take it.

There clearly are inferior influences on the outside that will make their way into your life, to harass you, or even, in the larger scheme of things, to test you. But, much clearer in the I Ching is that it tells us difficulty is a clear sign that some self correction is needed, and that as soon as we accept that, the deliverance begins.

“Allow progress to unfold naturally.”

“The extent to which we progress is determined by how much we distance ourselves from inferior influences(both inner and outer).”

During this period in my life, I am cognizant of the inner inferior influences and working to correct them. I am also painfully aware of the outer inferior influences. I have strenghtened my alliance with the Sage, with the Higher Power, because the I Ching tells us that is the only way to get rid of the difficulty. “The greatest power accrues to those who serve the Higher Power in every moment.”

This is a time of great discernment for me. And as I consider what I may do, and in talking with good friends, there are some possibilities that would be so amazing, but would take great courage and require a great leap of faith in the Higher Power.

I am thinking of weathering the storm, but I am unsure if it is just a storm or a tsunami. Wethering a tsunami is not wise, even for a taoist sage! Sometimes we have to accept that we need to leave and move to higher ground. On the other hand, I question whether it is wise to initiate an upheaval and walk away from everything safe and secure and begin a taoist pilgrimage. I have talked about the idea and fantasized about it; but is it something real for me or just another ego motivated desire?

When we view our lives from the taoist perspective, it is funny how clearly we can see that the storm is air and wind and blowing maniacally around us. It shows us before our eyes the absurdity of the matrix we are in. Weathering the storm and remaining in that secular matrix is an option, but is it the best one? Is extricating oneself from the secular world and walking the earth(I know, it sounds so Kwai Chang Cain), seeking out other taoists–I’m researching right now to see what real taoist monaasteries there are in the U.S.–and really embarking on “the Way,” an option or pie in the sky pipe dreams?

I know that being in a pressure cooker is no fun! But working in the secular world affords us certain freedoms–freedom to have a place to live, to eat, to buy smokes and coffee, to maintain a 12 year old car. Not working in the secular mainstream, going on a spiritual pilgrimage, with no money, no home, no car, man, that’s a tough one. Sure, I’d have a bit of a plan and do some work before hand, but it’s not just a scary proposition, but also an awesome one and an amazing one.

A very close friend, not a taoist, but an artist, has gone before me. A perfect storm brewed, and his circumstances were slightly different, but I was able to share with him a journey of leaving this secular matrix, seeing him travel across the country in a 70″s Beetle, and end up in New Orleans. What we always said to each other was that we believed in him, and that no matter where it ended up, he would land on his feet.

If I were to do something like this, I would have to be secure in this: That my alliance with the Sage/Higher Power was strong, and that I believed in myself and had confidence in myself. Twelve years now of tai chi practice has certainly built up my confidence in myself, albeit I shade it with a sense of taoist modesty. Do I trust in the Way? I am in the process of discernment. I am drawn to weathering the storm, allowing it to blow passed, but I am also drawn to seizing the opportunity to do something so special, to begin the walk of who I really am. If you never get on the bus, you never get anywhere; you end up in the bus station the rest of your life.



  1. Walk this way, fool.

    • walt, thanks. i like the precepts. maybe it’s tome to be a fool!

  2. Howdy Mike! I find your blog to be quite interesting.

    I am unaware of any true Taoist monasteries in the U.S. However, I do know that my qigong teacher is working to establish the first official Wu Dang Temple in America. His website is If you’re looking for authentic Taoism, you may want to get in contact with Master Yun Xiang Tseng.

    Have a blessed Easter!


    • hey, terry, i’ve been reading up at the website. it would be amazing to have a wudang monastery here in the states. i may find myself in colorado in the near future!

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