the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero


Suzie has Questions and I have Answers

So suzie81speaks has written a post called Questions, Questions, Questions: The WordPress Community Experiment and I am honored that she asked me personally to respond to it.  It’s a series of questions that I know as a “getting to know you meme”.   I admit that “Community Experiment” had me hoping for something bigger, but I like these questionnaires nevertheless.

I like them because the answers can be thoughtful, and pleasantly revealing; more so than the quizzes you might find on Facebook now, or the ones I remember when I first started out on LiveJournal 10 years ago.

On to the questions:

1. How did you create the title for your blog?

I settled on the title when I was still blogging on the VOX platform.  Giving a blog a name was a new idea to me in 2007.  I was still with the idea that blogging was like a personal diary when I started with LiveJournal in 2002, and I didn’t have a title for that blog until later.

I experimented with different titles– “the world of jaklumen”, “the eccentric world of jaklumen”, “the eclectic world of jaklumen”, and so on.  Blogging was moving away from personal writings to niche interests, but I insisted on writing about whatever caught my whimsy.  Things were a bit looser and freer at VOX– I really didn’t see anyone that was trying to settle on one particular look.  We were actually encouraged to change our headers as we felt like it, although that was about all we could customize from the interface.

A friend (whom I have called my “Sifu-of-sorts”) at that time turned me on to studying the Eastern paths, and I became very interested in the Tao Te Ching and philosophical Taoism.  I decided I wanted to reflect that in my blog title, and settled on “the tao of jaklumen”, which I carried over to WordPress when VOX closed in 2010.

2. What’s the one bit of blogging advice you would give to new bloggers?

I reckon I’m pretty bad at giving advice; I’m still trying to figure this all out myself.  But I followed the Zero to Hero course at The Daily Post on WordPress, and I found it very helpful.

3. What is the strangest experience you’ve ever had?

What is THE strangest experience?  Hmm, can’t think of one that I’d call the most strange, but, these sorts of experiences seem to happen in my dreams at night.  Relatively few are ones I’d call cool or inspiring; they tend to be bizarre on average.

4. What is the best thing that anybody has ever said to you?

I can’t think of one.  I’m tired, grumpy, grouchy, hurting… and this answer isn’t coming easily for me.

5. When presented with a time machine, which one place and time would you visit?

I’m not sure if I’d go– I’ve consumed enough sci-fi that explores all sorts of chaos that could ensue with interfering with the space time continuum.  I figure I’d be even more awkward than Marty McFly in “Back to the Future”.

6. If you had to pick a new first name, what would you choose?

Oh, I don’t know.  I rather like my first name.  I figure it’s much easier to say I want to choose my next nickname.  Jack (or as I spell it, “jak”) is a nickname of my real first name.

7. If you were a B Movie, what would it be called?

What kind of B Movie?  If it’s the 1950’s campy invader type, it’d probably be something like “Revenge of the Lab Wererat”.  If it could include late ’70s and ’80s sci-fi and comic book movies, it might be “Song of the Stars”.


A 10-year Blogging Journey: Death, before Life

In my LiveJournal blogging, I never mentioned my “Sifu-of-Sorts”, whom I met online through the Camarilla.  I call him “Sifu-of-Sorts” because he balked to be called a sifu or a sensei, but, he was my Meeting of the Mentor (stage four of the Hero’s Journey, per se Vogler) regardless, and that was the name, “Sifu-of-Sorts”, that he reluctantly approved.

Research Association of Laozi Taoist Culture

In the Mage venue, I was playing a member of The Akashic Brotherhood (which refers to the akashic record in Eastern reckoning).  I had some interest in Eastern paths, so my Sifu-of-Sorts recommended that I read the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching.

I did not get too deep into the Gita, but I read the Tao Te Ching like a man dying of thirst.

Jan. 7th, 2005 — “Still grieving”:

You know, oddly enough, Julie is dealing with the loss pretty well. I haven’t been handling it so well though.

Many tears were shed; I had really wanted this after all. They say it’s good therapy to try again but a part of me is reluctant. The doctor said after four weeks was okay.

I try to keep remembering that the child will come when the time is right; we do have a feeling this next one is very patient. But I still feel so much.

We knew that we would have another child after our daughter.  Both of them made their presence known a long time before they were born, somehow: there was excitement, anticipation, near impatience with our daughter, and more patience and gentle love with our son.

Perhaps Boy needed that patience, because he didn’t come right away.

We waited a while.  I wasn’t sure we were ready– we were in that crummy fourplex and things were difficult.  I remember my father coming to visit to help Cimmorene break the news to me that she was pregnant.  “She really needs your support,” he said.

But it wasn’t to be, yet.  My memory is hazy, but I remember Cimmy saying something was wrong, that she was bleeding for some reason.  She rushed to the toilet, and miscarried– and I saw the process in all its ugly, gory horror, blood and all.

This was The Ordeal.  I was devastated.

I blamed myself.  I thought that because I wasn’t supportive enough, that I hadn’t wanted the pregnancy at the time, that I was to blame for her miscarrying.  I cut myself, many times, scoring the inside of my forearm with a razor blade.  I wept.  I brooded and stewed as I often do.

I e-mailed my Sifu-of-Sorts about it.  He was so sanguine, as he often is.  He explained that miscarrying was the body’s natural way of dealing with a faulty pregnancy.  I already knew that was true, but I had an emotional dissonance, as I often do.  I may know something logically, but emotionally– it’s often a different story.

But Boy did come, two years and a few months later.  That, of course, is the subject for a future post.

The Hero's Journey: Ordeal, Death, Rebirth

The Hero’s Journey: Ordeal, Death, Rebirth

Next post in the series: A 10-year blogging journey: Woman as Temptress

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East meets West: comparisons

I wish to start sharing connections I have made between Eastern paths and Western thought. At the risk of repeating myself, I will say again why I have been previously reluctant.

I consider myself a philosophical Taoist, and my view of Eastern paths is generally a philosophical one. That is to say I do not place much emphasis on mystical aspects. My religion is Restorationist Christian, specifically that of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I am puzzled that some find this such a contradiction.

Generally speaking, I think Eastern paths are very inclusive; it’s very hard to study one and not find intersections and influences from another. Many go back to India, to Hinduism and Buddhism as an offshoot. Buddhism in particular is noted as an influence in China, Japan, and much of the Oceania nations.

I think it often comes down to collective and individualist paradigms. The ones I find who worry about Western thought being a corrupting influence are Westerners; i.e. those with ties to the U.S., the British Isles, and Western Europe. So far, many seem to be white, and have a “rugged individualism” perspective.

I do not see this much from Asians of ethnicities descending from China. From what Cimmy and I have noted from Chinese and Japanese histories, while there has been some insular attitudes in the past, generally, many nations, including China, Japan, and Korea, are assimilating many Western ideas, especially in modern times.

To sum up quickly, I have always enjoyed discussing Eastern paths generally. I also enjoy discussing Western thought, but I think the individualist perspectives in the West have brought dissent. I like discussing Abrahamic religion, and I even like discussing ancient Egyptian and pagan perspectives. But sadly, such dissent remains, and many of those roads *do* lead to Rome, I think.

All that aside, I will start writing comparisons I have made, mostly between the Tao Te Ching, and the Book of Mormon. I will branch out later to Christian thought generally and Abrahamic tradition as I have the time and resources.

My intent is to compare the similarities as I see it. I do hope that it will not invite dissent, particularly the rather cantankerous kind that seems to breed on the Internet. Confrontation will not be welcomed.


Be Water, My Friend

“The Tao is like water. Water takes the
lowest way. It flows around obstacles. It has
no projections but it penetrates that which
has no crevices. It is the softest of all things,
but it grinds rock. It resists nothing, but is
irresistible. It asks for nothing, but nourishes
everything. It strives for nothing, but trans-
forms everything.”

— attributed to Lao Tzu, The Tao Te Ching (from a translation by Carol Deppe, based on the Ma-wang-tui Silk Texts)

(excerpt from an interview on the Pierre Berton Show)

If you have made it this far, congratulations. Now you shall see, dear reader, my affection and love for the Eastern paths, particularly the philosophical school of Taoism.

I believe this to be an enrichment to the religious doctrine which I also hold dear, but I have held back, in fear of ridicule, derision, and accusation of heresy. It is a paradox, for some already would attack these doctrinal beliefs as such alone.

But I feel it is time to share my journey, to begin to reveal what is in my soul, my spirit, the essence of my being.

Welcome, once again, to the tao of jaklumen.