How to be Good?

A Chat with a Daoist Monk

December 13, 2021 Season 1 Episode 19
A Chat with a Daoist Monk
How to be Good?
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How to be Good?
A Chat with a Daoist Monk
Dec 13, 2021 Season 1 Episode 19

What does it mean to be a good person according to a Daoist Monk?

We ask Daoist Monk Yun Rou (his name means Soft Cloud) to share his opinions on being good according to the view of Daoism.

Daoism - also known as Taoism - originated in China close to 2,000 years ago, and as Monk Yun Rou describes, it centres on living in harmony with nature, and everything in existence.

Ordained as a Monk at the Chun Yang (Pure Yang) Daoist Temple in Guangzhou, China, Yun Rou is a Daoist Monk, Author and Tai Chi Master. His award-winning books bridge fiction, spirituality, philosophy, and history, and his work has appeared across the globe, including in publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair and The Wall Street Journal.

This conversation goes into beautiful depth about what it means to be a Daoist – with all its layers – while staying connected to the simplicity that is always at the heart of this podcast.

If after listening to that you’d like to learn more about Monk Yun Rou, you can visit

And if you'd like to support this podcast, please visit - we appreciate you listening and supporting each episode. Thank you!

Show Notes Transcript

What does it mean to be a good person according to a Daoist Monk?

We ask Daoist Monk Yun Rou (his name means Soft Cloud) to share his opinions on being good according to the view of Daoism.

Daoism - also known as Taoism - originated in China close to 2,000 years ago, and as Monk Yun Rou describes, it centres on living in harmony with nature, and everything in existence.

Ordained as a Monk at the Chun Yang (Pure Yang) Daoist Temple in Guangzhou, China, Yun Rou is a Daoist Monk, Author and Tai Chi Master. His award-winning books bridge fiction, spirituality, philosophy, and history, and his work has appeared across the globe, including in publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair and The Wall Street Journal.

This conversation goes into beautiful depth about what it means to be a Daoist – with all its layers – while staying connected to the simplicity that is always at the heart of this podcast.

If after listening to that you’d like to learn more about Monk Yun Rou, you can visit

And if you'd like to support this podcast, please visit - we appreciate you listening and supporting each episode. Thank you!

[Podcast Theme Music: upbeat electro/beats]

Sarah Buckmaster  0:03 
Hi everyone. I'm Sarah and this is How to be Good? - the podcast that explores what it means to be a good person in today's world.

Today I'm talking with Daoist Monk, Yun Rou.

Monk Yun Rou  0:17 
But in its essence, Daoism is a science, not a belief system. It's a method for looking at the unfolding of events in the natural world and understanding the world as it is

Sarah Buckmaster  0:36 
Ordained as a monk at the Chun Yang (Pure Yang) Daoist Temple in Guangzhou, China, Yun Rou is a Daoist Monk, author and Tai Chi master. His award-winning books bridge spirituality, philosophy and history. And his work has appeared across the globe, including in publications like Vogue, Vanity Fair and The Wall Street Journal. Now living in Arizona, Monk Yun Rou teaches around the world and in this conversation, he introduces us to Daoism as well as sharing some of his personal experiences of living as a Daoist monk in America,

Monk Yun Rou  1:08 
[...] and that means that the way to serve most effectively, most efficient most powerfully, is to do the work on you, and then you'll see the results out in the world.

Sarah Buckmaster
Daoism, also known as Taoism, originated in China almost 2000 years ago. And as Monk Yun Rou describes in this conversation, it centres on living in harmony with nature and with the substance of everything that exists.

Monk Yun Rou
Nature is not an entity that exists outside of us as a teacher. It is a fabric of which we are an intimate part.

Sarah Buckmaster
Monk Yun Rou was born Arthur Rosenfeld in New York City, and he's received his academic education at Yale, Cornell and the University of California. He started his formal martial arts training in 1980, and has studied with some of China's top Tai Chi grandmasters. His name - Yun Rou - means Soft Cloud, and our conversation for this episode managed to go into beautiful depth about what it means to be a Daoist with all its layers, while still staying connected to a simplicity that's always at the heart of this podcast.

Monk Yun Rou  2:17 
If you see how the world works, you're a Daoist. That's it.

Sarah Buckmaster 2:23 
With such a rich life journey so far, Monk Yun Rou has some incredible experiences to share with us. And this conversation opens us up to a galaxy of possibilities and potentials. So without any more description from me, it is my absolute honour to introduce you all to Monk Yun Rou.

[Podcast Theme Music enters... then fades out]

Monk Yun Rou 2:45 
You asked me to introduce Daoism. On one level, it is familiar to Western people as something else. Most people know a lot more about Daoism than they know that they know because of the Star Wars franchise. It's pretty clear to those of us who study these things that George Lucas had an affinity for Eastern thought. And that he drew upon the juxtaposition of Confucianism and Taoism - two threads in Chinese history - to serve as the basis for the conflict in his universe. The Empire, the jack booted white clad clone warriors, Stormtrooper guys and their death star, inspired probably by the rigidity of Confucian society in China for 1000s of years. That thing which has held Chinese culture together... until the communists really. The juxtaposition with that is the bucolic revellers in the forest with their swords and lightsabers in there, the natural world, self cultivating, meditating, having orgies, having parties... less structure, more nature.

That juxtaposition is at the core of a lot of Chinese culture. So when we say that the Yin Yang symbol, the white fish and the black fish and all that, there's some passing familiarity with this philosophy, but I stop shy of calling it a belief system.

There is a ritualised religious aspect to Daoism which expresses as a folk religion and gives meaningful ritual to people who need that. But in its essence, Daoism is a science, not a belief system. It's a method for looking at the unfolding of events in the natural world, and understanding the world as it is.

So the Dao De Jing, the most famous book in the Taoist Pantheon, begins with a disclaimer, everything written here is not the real thing, any more than the word moon is the moon. And I, the author, probably by the way, also didn't exist, probably was a group of guys, you know, putting this text together and attributing it to an old master, which is what Lao Tzu means. He says right at the beginning, or they write at the beginning: we recognise that language is insufficient, but it's all we have. And the best we can do is write these words and try to convey an experience which can't really be conveyed by words.

So right away, when we began this, I said I didn't see Daoism as a belief system, or religion, although I acknowledge that the ritual parts in which I became a monk, have a religious function. But the core of it is experiential. And it's an inquiry into the way that nature works. And it requires no belief in anything supernatural, because there is no concept of supernatural in philosophical branches of Daoism. There is a desire to better figure out how does the world really work and how can I have a good life in this world;  what can I learn from the workings of nature that teaches me how to be.

Sarah Buckmaster  7:25 
And when it comes to the concepts of good and bad, what does it mean to be a good person as a Daoist?

Monk Yin Rou
We are uncomfortable with good and bad, because we know them to be constructs. And we want to be careful not to engage constructs to the detriment of clear vision. If we make up stuff, rather than seeing things as they really are, we're not doing ourselves or each other a favour.

All that having been said, we have guidelines for living. You have the three treasures, compassion, humility, and frugality, which guide our actions. And those words, those concepts are, I think, accessible to a western audience. They are recognisable values that people can connect to.

But there's something else, the aforementioned Yin Yang symbol that everybody knows. And there are variations to it; my own Daoist lineage doesn't link to the most typical one with the two fish, but to a little bit different one. But there are a few important things about that symbol. One is that one fish becomes the other fish. So where one trails off, the other one begins. And there's this interplay that's ongoing. A second obvious feature of the symbol is that the black fish has a white eye, and vice versa, showing that there's a little bit of one opposite in the other. We use these to define the world. There's this constant exchange, one thing becoming the other. And there's this quality of one thing having the other as part of its essence. But there's a third thing that people miss a lot and don't talk about, which is that this whole thing is in a circle. And the purpose of the circle the shape of the Yin Yang symbol, is to imply that this is not a still photo, it's a movie and it's moving all the time... changing all the time.

So when we get into things like good and bad, we have to recognise that any such judgments or labels are subject to the laws of the universe, which is that they are exchanging places all the time. And that this very dynamic action of them, taking each other's place, and having a little bit of each other in them, is much closer to the reality of the world than parables in western books, than stories of how we should or shouldn't behave, which are almost always like everything else in especially our modern culture... they are generated by people who don't have our best interests in mind.

So we are being fed ideas about what's good and bad; work, work, work, push, push, push, exhaust yourself until you're ill, but be productive. You know, these kinds of poisonous venomous ideas that have pervaded both Eastern and Western culture in the modern world. Disasters that began with the agricultural revolution and moved on to the Industrial Revolution, and now the digital age. We are under constant attack by weapons of mass distraction, that are trading on these ideas of good and bad. But the ideas of good and bad are not essential. They don't come from nature. And they don't come from the Divine, they come from somebody who wants something from us. And it's not in our interest, but in their interest to believe - to buy into that, and to live that way. And, of course, you know, falling for all that is what has put us in this terrible place of having almost all but destroyed our home, and constantly being on the brink of destroying each other.

Sarah Buckmaster  12:01 
You mentioned the importance of nature and looking to it for lessons, does that mean you look to nature as a teacher within Daoism?

Monk Yun Rou
As soon as we go down this road, we've made a mistake. We sometimes have to go down this route. But we also have to acknowledge the mistake. Just like the book says, "Everything I'm about to say isn't the real thing". We're acknowledging it. But we're going to do it anyway. Because we don't have any choice.

When we objectify and separate ourselves from nature, and treat it as an entity - so Tao itself as a concept.. Tao is not an entity. So it's not anything like an Abrahamic idea of God. Tao (or Dao) itself, is an elusive concept. In Daoism, we talk about Dao, not the Dao, but just Dao. We recognise that we can't separate it as a concept. And we don't want to separate us ourselves from nature, as in your question, and what it imply. Because nature is not an entity that exists outside of us as a teacher. It is a fabric of which we are an intimate part. If you see this non duo, no us-and-them, then you understand why I objected to the idea of a belief system, because that, again, creates this opposition. That isn't how we see the world.

When I see a mosquito, and he's drawing my blood, my instinct is to swat him and squish him and leave a little smear. I'm often stopped from that action, not by the thought, but by the direct perception that it's little legs, his little feet are stuck in the same fabric in which I'm stuck, that we are of a piece and that damaging that fabric damages me. There isn't a distinction between Monk and Sarah.. it's an illusion. It doesn't actually exist, as is the distinction between monk and mosquito.

And if you actually have this view. And I want to make clear that when I say view, I don't mean this belief system or this way of looking at things. I mean, if you have this vision, if that's what you see, just as clearly as you see, a book on the shelf or a statue in the background or a sword, then that has a direct impact on how you understand the world and on how you behave, and on something which seems of interest to you in this podcast, which is on your moral structure and your values.

Sarah Buckmaster  15:22 
And being a Daoist monk, how do you find living in Western culture... living in America, and yet practising this different way of life? How is that? Is there some discomfort to that for you?

Monk Yun Rou
I'm not sure that one can any longer say that this is a function of East and West. If you'd asked me this 10 years ago, I might have said, well, there's this age old energetic tradition, which has the East dominated by its belly in the West dominated by its head, one by intuition and the other by intellection. And that the world has always needed the balance between the two. So China and the east, adopted more and more Western technologies and medicines. And in the West, we are more and more interested in eastern ways of looking things. Now, that interplay between intuition, and intellection, has become very blurry.

Daoism is probably the first organised systematic environmentalism that we know of. And this is not to disrespect the sort of animistic traditions of South Pacific Islanders of 1000s of years ago, their understanding of the sea and the stars and the sharks and all that, nor that of aboriginal tribes in the Amazon and other places, or shamanistic Neolithic traditions in proto China, and their understanding of the world. But just to say that in a way that is codified that we can recognise in the West in the modern world, Daoism was the first to cohere ideas of balance and harmony, and not overusing resources and protecting things.

The discomfort that I experience, living in the West and seeing the speed and greed world, and the wasting of resources and the embracing of ignorance, aggressively... I'm not sure that all of that is really just American, maybe that it's less geographic and more temporal. I don't think that you would find less of a difference in distance between natural wisdom and understanding of the world - and what the reality concocted by our leaders is - in other countries than you find in America. So yes, I am uncomfortable living with all that, but I would be uncomfortable in other places, too. Because it's more about what's really happening to humankind and the planet than it is just America right now.

Sarah Buckmaster  18:20 
With everything that is happening in the world right now - the pandemic, climate change, we're living through a time of conflict - what would Daoist philosophy recommend for living a good life with these challenges or with these conflicts?

Monk Yun Rou  18:37 
One way of looking at the Dao is to view - again, not a belief system, because no supernatural element, but just watching nature unfold, including human nature, no difference, nature's nature - you can see that we are each of us, a rock that has daily dropped into the pond of our lives, and our actions and our presence and our energy, upon impact with the water sends out ripples to places we cannot necessarily predict and with an effect that we may not be able to control. So we act and then the universe around us responds. And one of the great joys of awakening the mind and actualizing your life is to become more and more sensitive to the effects of those ripples and their trajectories, to start to see them more clearly, and understand the results of those actions better. And then, maybe moderate, or guide your behaviours so that the ripples have the effect that you want.

And one of the guiding principles that we want in a Daoist life is effortlessness and power. So we want to have a positive effect on the world, we want to have it in the laziest possible way. And by lazy, I don't mean that we want to kick up our shoes, you know, watch the ballgame and eat chips. I'm talking about relaxed and effective, because we have peeled away the layers that obscure our clear vision of the world, we have broken our bad habits and things that drag us down. And that we function purely and effectively. Because of how clearly we can see, and we don't waste any energy, so we don't get exhausted. So we have minimum effort, but maximum positive effect on the world around us.

Sarah Buckmaster  21:01  
Where do you look for guidance on what that positive effect could or should be?

Monk Yun Rou 
The more carefully you watch yourself and the world, the more that guidance is provided. But the biggest and most overarching thing is this news flash: It's not about you.

So there's a bit of irony to that, because I just got done saying that we're this rock and we drop in on the middle of the water... so the rock is where you do the work. And in that sense, it is about you. Because that's where you can do the work. But the ultimate purpose and goal is not about the rock. It's about the effects of the ripples and connection between the rock and the pond and the rest of the world and everybody else, and all sentient beings. So if you can understand the seemingly initial dichotomy between focusing on yourself, but not in a selfish way, but just recognising that, that's where you have the power to do the work. And trusting that in doing that work, you will have a beneficent effect on the world. But that doesn't mean it's all about you. That means that the way to serve most effectively, most efficient most powerfully, is to do the work on you. And then you'll see the results out in the world. So that's what it means when I say it's not all about you.

Sarah Buckmaster  22:46 
As we can't know all of the consequences of our actions, are there any ways we can try to take good action and try to have positive effects?

Monk Yun Rou
In Daoist thinking, there's a bigger challenge sometimes in figuring out what the compassionate act is, than in doing it, sometimes it's just not that clear. Because we have this idea that Dao is big. And if you're looking at the world, and you want to understand something, particularly a conflict, dial out your zoom lens, until you're no longer looking at the tip of your nose or your argument with your friend, but rather you know... the whole room. Then your apartment, and your building. And your city, country, continent. And finally, a little blue floating marble and space called Earth. You keep on dialling and dialling out until you see the whole galaxies and Cosmos. And when you're doing that, then a lot of this other stuff - such as conflict in what's right and wrong - kind of just falls away as constructs that don't have a lot of meaning.

In preparation for this interview, I read some of your writing on Daoism, and one term that really struck me was Wuji, I believe, about this serene state where we can practice Qigong and meditation... things that help us achieve this state of being Can you describe a bit more about that to us?

In the Abrahamic or Western cosmogony, we see in the book of Genesis, right at the beginning of the Bible, a description of how the world came into being. Out of nothing, this God created heaven and earth and there is the presence of an agent. There is a creator. Daoist cosmogony bears some superficial resemblance to that story. But there is no creator present in the story, rather inherent in the system - inherently in nature - is a self organising principle to create these opposing forces; heaven and earth with man in the middle, humankind in the middle.

When those opposing forces arise from the void, the void they arise from is called Wuji. And I have defined this for lack of better terminology, as emptiness pregnant with infinite possibility. Everything is about to happen, but nothing has happened yet. The  whole thing, what in the West we call heaven and earth and what in the east is called the 10,000 things (which just means everything) is about to burst forth and polarise into these opposing forces yin and Yan. Yin typically soft and female, moist and quiet. Yang:  young, bright and male and loud and dry. The harmonious dance between yin and yang that arises from that emptiness of Wuji - as a result of the self organising quality of the universe. That harmonious interplay is called Tai Chi, which is where the martial art of Tai Chi trend gets its name. So that means that the martial art Tai Chi, which people often just call Tai Chi, the name means martial art based on the way the universe works. So when we talk about how to live, the more we can perceive this dance between yin and yang, between opposites changing each one becoming the other, and get in step with that process, the more effective and less effortful our life will be.

Sarah Buckmaster  27:32 
As you've mentioned this deeper meaning and stepping out to gathe a new view, I wanted to ask you about something you shared with me before we started recording, You shared an experience you've had this year linked to your health, and about a vision, would you be happy sharing some of that with the listeners?

Monk Yun Rou
I feel like the event that you asked me about is a personal one, but I'm happy to share the broad strokes of it.

Climate change has worldwide created a rise in mostly subtropical and tropical fungal infections, more rain, more humidity, more, more fungus. And there is an endemic fungus here in southern Arizona in the states that affects 1000s of people every year. But most people don't get terribly sick from it. But some very tiny percentage of people who are unfortunate, get a very serious problem from this fungus and it enters their brain, which is what happened to me. I got sick and this disease is not curable. So you know, I guess it's sort of like other chronic, and eventually fatal conditions that many people live with, you know, every day, and you just accept that you're not going to get better, but you're trying not to get worse. So I'm living with this thing. And, you know, sometimes it flowers and creates problems. And a few months ago, I had a flowering of it. And I was found pretty much dead and revived and I spent some time in hospital and unconscious. And during that time, I had a journey, a vision.

One of the features of this vision for me was that it was curated. And that was quite notable. I'd never had an experience like that before. And I had glimpses of some of the insights that I got from this vision, after many, many hours of meditation in part of my 1000s and 1000s of hours of training and meditation, but those glimpses would be just that; they would be very brief. This was an extended and sustained experience that went on for days. And when I say it was curated, it begs the question, who was curating it or what was curating it? The answer is I don't know. There was a sense that I was being shown things as if I were visiting a museum. And someone was showing me things that they chose for me to see as opposed to other things. But perhaps regrettably, you know, there was no Buddha there. No Laozi. No Daoist masters. No Chinese landscapes, I would love to tell you that I saw that, but it was more universal and zooming through the cosmos, and so on.

At the end, I saw what it is in store for organic life on earth and humankind. And I didn't much care for what I was being shown and I pushed back. And the message I got when I pushed back was a bit of tough love; "sorry buddy. It doesn't matter what you think". That - it's not about you.

I've had some time to reflect on that vision. And on that future that I was shown, and to revise my knee jerk reaction to it. And I see it in the context of a removal of suffering. And I think that I have become very much a better monk, as a result of this experience.

And, you know, part of this training for 10s of 1000s of hours of physical and mental training over the years, has led me to certain abilities, which I don't often discuss, because they're not the important things put, you know, and abilities to see sometimes to heal, to foresee those abilities have ramped up a bit. But I don't get that as the main event I get from the main, as the main event is greater sensitivity and compassion, which has the effect of drawing more people to me, and having them treat me differently, and listen to what I have to say, if I have anything to say. But just in their interactions with me, I find almost no resistance now. Or as I used to find resistance, maybe as a result of how I express things, or energetic reasons. And that has shifted a lot.

Sarah Buckmaster
Thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate it. And you speak about the many hours of training that you've had, you're a Daoist monk, there's been so much work on your journey, have you had any moments of doubt or uncertainty on the path you've taken?

Monk Yun Rou
At one stage, you know, fairly early, I developed very strong healing abilities and the ability to see things that were wrong with people and fix them. And I was very startled by this and it made me quite uncomfortable, you know, hands on healing of a dramatic nature. And I went to my teacher and asked his counsel. And he said, Oh, yeah, that happens. Sometimes, you know, people have certain qualities and those qualities are enhanced by the training. So your kung fu brother over there is kind of a tough guy and one of his things is that now he's physically invulnerable; you could put a spear on his throat and bend it. You are a sensitive and compassionate person. So you can sense what's wrong with people and give them healing energy.

But then he said, there's a passage in the Dao De Jing which says, my way is a straight and simple highway, but for some reason, people like to get lost in the mountains. My teacher looked at me and he said, this is a sideshow for you. It's not your main path. And I said, but if I can actually, you know, help people like this, like, what does it matter what my main path is? Doesn't that morally trump anything else? And he shrugged, and he said, you can choose to stay stuck there for a while if you want. But I'm just telling you, as your teacher, that's not your that's not what you're supposed to be doing. And that was a moral conundrum for me. That was probably the greatest discomfort and doubt I felt, and that I can remember on the path - to abandon doing that. Give it up.

Sarah Buckmaster
With everything that's going on right now, how do you stay focused and not become maybe disempowered by what's happening right now?

Monk Yun Rou
So you know, you also asked me other questions that this pertains to in an important way, because, and you mentioned climate change, and we talk about the rise of tyranny and this kind of aggressive stuff. I feel like it's very easy. And climate change, people talk about this. It's very easy to be overwhelmed and think that the problem is just too great. There's nothing we can do. You know, we're past the tipping point, whatever that is, and we're gonna warm by a few degrees centigrade, and so on. That kind of feeling of disempowerment is very weakening to the Spirit. And I think not entirely accurate.

So we can take a story like this, and a concept like the stone and go look, you really can have effects that you don't anticipate and can't predict by your actions. They can be much larger in effect than you might have believed possible. Trust that the effects of these kinds of ripples are unpredictable and far reaching. So don't give up and assume that your actions won't have an effect and that it's not worth trying. And that I think, is an empowering message with there are a lot of disempowering messages out there right now.

Sarah Buckmaster
And if there was one thing that you could recommend listeners went out and did today that would help them achieve this good life, help them be a good person, what would you recommend?

Monk Yun Rou
Kindness. Compassionate action.

But, as I mentioned before, sometimes what compassionate action is, is not clear. In other words, doing the right thing, the challenge can be not doing it, but figuring out what it is to do.

So a really classic and simple and familiar example of this, which kind of drives me crazy and has for years, is the idea of giving a man a fish or teaching him to fish. I've always felt that that is just an aggressively idiotic, saying, because in what world are we so limited and rigid and locked that we do not see that if somebody is hungry, right then and there, you feed them. And then you teach them how to fish. What's wrong with doing both? Why does it have to be a binary choice?

So I guess, my parting thought on this is, there's always a door number 3.

Years ago, I was in line for coffee, at Starbucks. And after I made my order at the drive-thru, the guy behind me laid on his horn, and yelled at his window, "move up, you idiot". But I was in a line of cars. And my bumper was, you know, four inches from the car in front of me. There was nowhere to go. And you know, because I'm a great and enlightened Master, my first thought was, well, Christmas is coming, I'm going to get out now and give him a holiday visit to the dentist. So I start to get out of my car, and I see his face in the mirror. And he's all florid and angry. And I see my own face with the same time and I look just like him. And I think wow. So I think better of it. And I close the door and I wait. And when I get up to the window to get my tea and pay. I say, you know, I'd like to buy the coffee for the guy behind me. There's this thing that was called Pay it Forward, it became a Hollywood film, and I guess I'm the father of this thing. But I bought him his coffee. And then I drove away thinking that I had taken this conflict and turned it into something else. And you know, I was very happy.

Some hours later, I get home and I find that my answering machine at home, we still had those back then, is full of little messages and I started listening to them. And they're from Starbucks, the manager of the Starbucks has called me and then I keep listening to calls, calls, calls. And I get an NBC or ABC News reporter. And as I'm listening to the message, that reporter rings my phone, I pick it up. He says, "Oh, there you are. I want to come to your house". I said, What are you talking about? Who are you? Why? And he said, "what you don't understand is that when you did that for him, he did it for the person behind him. And the person behind him, did it for them and on and on and on." This is the ripples in the pond. This is the dropping of the stone as well. He told me I had started it at 8am, and at 3pm it was still going - this ripple effect. So I met this reporter at the Starbucks. And I explained to him about these three doors, right? Door number one, he honks and yells at me and I get out of the car and punch him. Force against force. Door number two is he honked at me and yells and I get out and I dropped to the ground beside his car. And I say you're right. I'm an idiot. That's yielding. So the right response is a third one - a third door. And the third door is just defined as being not door number one and not door number two. It's a creative, perhaps unique response to any conflict or situation, which you only define as being not one and not two. All else goes. So when you asked me what somebody could do right now, today, right is to explore door number three if a conflict arises in your day, see if you can figure out what is your door number three.

Sarah Buckmaster
And is there anything else that we haven't covered that you'd like to share with people listening to this podcast?

Monk Yun Rou 
Sometimes people are Daoist without realising that label or having heard it or know what it is. You don't have to be a Daoist Monk to be a Daoist. And you don't have to be Chinese. You don't have to engage in martial arts or Qigong, or meditation. Those things aren't necessary. In fact, you can understand Daoism, to some degree, without ever knowing anything about the Chinese elements or its history, because it's just looking at nature, it's just looking at the way things work and these truths.

And this is why I said to you at the beginning that no belief system is required. These truths are not made up stuff that we decide to cleave to. They are just the result of paying close attention to the unfolding of the natural world. If you see how the world works, you're a Daoist. That's it. You don't have to believe anything. Just look, watch carefully. And you will eventually come to this. Not because all roads lead to China. But because this is just how things are; how things work. And it's just a description that was made by people who spent a lot of time looking... just like cosmologists and astronomers, and natural historians to now, that was just the early version of all those scientists looking at the world trying to understand it. That's all.

[Podcast Theme Music comes in, and then gently fades so it's quietly playing in background as Sarah begins talking...]

Sarah Buckmaster
My deepest thanks to Monk Yun Rou for taking the time to talk with me. If after listening to that conversation, you'd like to learn more about him or about Taoism in general, you can visit his website, And I'll add all links in the show description.

Monk Yun Rou
MONKYUNROU.COM. And that will lead to, you know many interviews like this one and YouTube and to Amazon for books and to classes and so on. And that's the easiest way.

Sarah Buckmaster
If you've enjoyed this episode, and would like to hear more episodes and interviews exploring the question of what it means to be a good person in today's world, then please visit or subscribe on your favourite podcast listening platform.

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Transcribed by and Sarah Buckmaster