on Aug. 26, 2018 :
I've always seen Daoism as a great philosophy of life. It seems that few people in the West know anything about its philosophical tenets. This is unfortunate because Daoism (as opposed to Buddhism) offers a way to actively engage in the world, instead of retreating from it or 'overcoming' it. In this sense it is perhaps more akin to existentialism.
This book is a good introduction to the values and tenets of Daoism. As the author remarks, Daoism in the West has often been assimilated either as a New Age practice, or as a subject for esoteric erudition in the academia. There is certainly a 'third way': Daoism can speak to the heart and the intelligence of every man and woman who will listen.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)
on March 13, 2017 :
I have loved the Dao De Jing for decades and spent the last several years in an in depth contemplation of the original Chinese. I also practice martial arts, especially the internal arts. So when I heard about this book, I was immediately intrigued...and was not disappointed after reading it.
The book is a bit like the Dao De Jing itself--inviting access at many levels and from many entrance points. Cloudwalking Owl blends his own background in philosophy with historical context and original sources, to produce the practical application of the Dao's principles in the modern world we live in.
At first I was puzzled by the many offerings of original source material without a lot of explanation, but then I realized that the author is doing exactly what he preaches. Instead of telling the reader what to think, his stories and quoted materials invite the reader to explore her own thoughts and reactions. In other words, the author invites "process," a concept contrary to how many of us view the world, but which is the very heart of the Dao.
This is a short book, but don't read it fast. You will want to have time to think about what you are reading. And with the tools you find therein, you will enjoy "digging your own well."
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on Dec. 1, 2016 :
Bill Hulet’s Digging Your Own Well: Daoism as a Practical Philosophy starts off by giving the reader a whole bunch of reasons why he and his background would suggest he is the last guy you’d expect to be writing about such an academic topic as Daoism.
But read on and you’ll be glad that he did.
Hulet’s candour, combined with his accessible writing style, make this slim volume an enjoyable and edifying afternoon’s read.
A book on Daoism certainly wouldn’t be at the top of my list for casual reading – and the subject is pretty esoteric and does require some work on the part of the reader. And yet this is more than compensated for by the many stories that the author uses to illustrate his points and bring them back to everyday life.
At regular intervals he interrupts his dissertation with “so what?” questions (“this is all very groovy but what does this have to do with the real world” kind of stuff.) And then he explains.
There is likely more detail here than the casual reader is looking for but not enough to get in the way. And for someone looking to learn more about Daoism and what it may and may not mean to their lives, this seems like a good place to start.
Hulet has a Master’s degree in philosophy and frequently branches off into other issues that at one moment challenge and another moment entertains.
While he does work at a university, he is not part of the teaching staff.
Too bad. I am sure his lectures would be really interesting.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)