Finding Dao

Finding the path of least resistance.

Go with the flow.

In Chinese dao means “way.” There is an understanding that Buddhism seeks to find the way, and that oftentimes the path of least resistance leads to that way. 

Now, I really wanted to begin this post with a catchy saying about all of this. However, I quit after finding that the top results are H.G. Wells’ “The path of least resistance is the path of the loser” and Henry David Thoreau’s “The path of least resistance leads to crooked rivers and crooked men.”

That isn’t the message I want to get across. Buddhism aside for a moment, finding the dao in China is a real struggle that I encounter every day. For example: traffic.


You have to navigate through hordes of people, endless lines of cars who have no regard for traffic lines, merchants carting around their wears on wagons, and a multitude of darting scooters. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve gotten pretty good at winding myway through. While I was taking the above video, I thought to myself that traffic weaving is about finding the path of least resistance.

Similarly it is a path I have traversed often whilst traveling. I’m really not sure how it happens but each time I set out for a journey a) the unexpected happens and b) the trip is always enriched by it.

Presently I am writing from Jiuzhaigou, a natural reserve tucked into the rugged peaks of the Amdo Tibetan region of Sichuan.


Need I say more?

It took over 9 hours through the mountains to get here and due to our teaching schedules, Alex and I can only sty the weekend. Which means one day in the park, and the next we’re back on the bus.

On said bus ride here, we not only found mountains and prayer flags, but also a couple of other Americans. You see, we often run into more Europeans. In a momentary lapse of judgement fueled in part by expat angst we were disappointed by their presence. We were on a trip to see Tibetan culture, not find other Americans. However, though a series of unforeseen events we have joined forces in experiencing Jiuzhaigou.


Upon our arrival we all needed to stop by an ATM. No big deal…until the machine wouldn’t give Alex’s card back. Of course it caused the initial freak out, but after a phone call the bank reassured her they would settle it. In the 15+ minutes of the four of us standing there, a man came up and started talking. We explained the situation. He expressed that he understood how it is to be a foreigner with a problem, as he had studied in the States for a year. Before we knew it, we were set up with a free ride to our hotel, dinner at a Tibetan restaurant, and transportation to the natural reserve in the morning.

I literally could not believe it.

Our meal consisted of Tibetan hot pot, with yak meat, Tibetan butter tea, as well as homemade sweet wine. It was by far one of the best meals I have had yet, and we were joined by the owner of he restaurant who happens to be a professional photographer in this area.
 I can’t help but feel like these are the perks of going with the flow…following the age-old path of least resistance. At least that is the philosophy I’m going to trek by as I continue my adventures.
In light of yesterday being Thanksgiving back home, I am incredibly thankful for these moments, and for the experience of simply getting to be in China. It will be impossible to forget.

It really puts things into perspective, and so often reminds me to let go of my plans and go with the flow, because oftentimes what can happen is far better than anything I could ever plan or imagine.

Until next time!

~A

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