Digging Your Own Well as a kind of primer to Daoism, a book for those who would like to find out about the Dao but aren’t yet ready for a more technical text, a down-to-earth look at what makes up the Dao, its history and practices.
Author Cloudwalking Owl (Bill Hulet) has been a practitioner of Daoism, taijiquan (Tai Chi) Kung Fu and other martial arts for over 30 years. He uses plain, almost folksy language and a number of anecdotes to get his points across. It is an easy and enjoyable read. One of the reasons he wrote the book is, “ … to help people understand that it is possible to develop and pursue a life of value without turning your back on reason and personal experience."
In a section entitled "Sitting and Forgetting or, Mind Fasting" Cloudwalking Owl describes a meditation called “Just Sitting" is exactly that. The teacher corrects everyone’s posture, but you don’t need to sit in a lotus position, just what is comfortable for you. After the description, Hulet includes an excerpt or a lesson from one of the masters, in this case Zhuangzi.
He also writes on the topic of "Doing Without Doing," and relates a story about a friend who had a small farm finding it almost impossible to get his pigs onto a truck. They are very strong, stubborn animals and he didn’t have the equipment that the larger pig producers had. The farmer found a veterinary book that suggested putting a bucket over the pig’s head. The pig tries to back out of the bucket, so the farmer simply led his pigs backward up the ramp and into the truck. All through the book are these nuggets of observation that usually end with Cloudwalking Owl offering a commentary by a master.
So what is his point? That people looking for answers about life can try Daoism as a path to spiritual fulfillment if they want. He certainly does not try to convert the reader, but his warm way of approaching the subject leaves you wanting more. Cloudwalking Owl’s provides an excellent reading list for those who would like to get into the deeper aspects of Daoism. It is beneficial is that he offers a helpful description of each of the books he recommends.
This is not a conventional book that it is divided into chapters. While there are headings that introduce topics, I found that the best way I to read the book was to start at the beginning and go straight through, as it is Cloudwalking Owl’s own stream of consciousness that creates the flow.