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Powell River Public Library hosts author of philosophical guide

Scholar from Oxford visiting the Sunshine Coast is a 'keen supporter of indie bookstores'
SCHOLAR SUPPORT: Dr. Francis Pring-Mill is a scholar and writer from Oxford who recently published the book, In Harmony with the Tao, A Guided Journey into the Tao Te Ching. He will be visiting the qathet region in support of independent bookstores like Pocket Books on Marine Avenue, and will give a reading/talk at Powell River Public Library on Saturday, April 20.

Tao Te Ching is a Chinese philosophical work written more than 2,500 years ago, and yet, is still read widely around the world today, for those seeking life's wisdom. The ancient text is traditionally credited to be written by philosopher and writer Lao Tzu and is cited as one of the most translated books in the publishing world.

Oxford scholar and writer Dr. Francis Pring-Mill is visiting the Northern Sunshine Coast this coming weekend to do three things: Give a talk at Powell River Public Library (PRPL), about his new book, In Harmony with the Tao, A Guided Journey into the Tao Te Ching, visit family in the qathet region and support the independent bookstore, Pocket Books, on Marine Avenue.

Pring-Mill grew up in Oxford, England, and picked up a copy of Tao Te Ching from a secondhand bookstore when he was a teenager. Ever since that time, the ideas in this ancient book have been percolating in his mind.

Pring-Mill uses his training as an analyst, instructor and professional facilitator to simplify and present a dense and sometimes cryptic text using the best-known English edition of Tao Te Ching by Stephen Mitchell, to create a guide for readers to best understand and use this ancient wisdom in everyday life.

"People today can connect with Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching because its messages are timeless," said Pring-Mill. "For example, ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,’ is as true today as the day it was written." 

Pring-Mill said that when people experience confusion and stress, Tzu reminds them that we often create it for ourselves.

The idea is, as they say, in life, “go with the flow.”

"We do this [create confusion and suffering] by having desires in mind and expectations as to what should happen when we try to satisfy them," said Pring-Mill. "Sometimes we succeed, at least for a while, and sometimes we don't, but new desires always pop up to keep us busy and distracted from living fully in the present moment."

Pring-Mill said Tzu merely points out this human condition and suggests we have a choice, and that we are not trapped.

"Instead of trying to control or rearrange the world, we could simply listen and then respond by contributing where we can," said Pring-Mill.

Neuroscientists have long understood when a person is under stress the amygdala hijacks the brain, releasing a stress hormone that triggers fear, anxiety and aggression. However, when a person takes a step back to breath, relax and focus, good decisions can be made. Tzu seemed to have known this concept thousands of years ago.

"Our online world today enables many trends; spiritual wellness is certainly one of them, and it may be hard to determine what might be of value," said Pring-Mill. "In Harmony with the Tao is different in that it is a book of insights which has withstood the test of time, over 2,500 years." 

Pring-Mill suggests spending time with the book, and to try opening it at any chapter and see what happens.

"If the text seems puzzling, then my book provides a guided journey as to what's going on between the lines," he added.

Pring-Mill’s guide to the Tao Te Ching combines analytical thinking and creativity, to explain ideas so folks can use his book for daily life in the modern world. 

"One of the chapters refers to the master having just three things to teach: simplicity, patience and compassion," said Pring-Mill. "I find that when I keep these in mind I experience much more peace and harmony in my life."

He emphasized that the challenge is to keep practicing these teachings or concepts every day.

"These ancient teachings can help people become aware that the present moment is all there is and that, to live in harmony with it, all we need to do is respond without letting ourselves get in the way," said Pring-Mill. "I believe that's where meaning in life and relationships comes from."

Pring-Mill will be at PRPL on Saturday, April, 20, at 2 pm.

"People may be surprised to find that this book of ancient wisdom is far more down to earth than they might think," said Pring-Mill. "I'm also a keen supporter of indie bookstores and Stacey Forbes of Pocket Books here in Powell River."

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