Is the practice of Tao about accepting what is or does it advocate change? Is life a transient fantasy and hence we should focus on the eternal instead? Interesting enough, most organized religions today advocate change for the good of others while most New Age spiritualists advocate self-enlightenment to seek the eternal and look down upon efforts in promoting changes in our transient physical reality, as I have observed.
Recently I took an interest in Islamism, as an area of spiritual interest. There were not many Muslims in Hong Kong when I was brought up. In the past decades, Hong Kong families took in more and more Indonesian maids (most of them Muslims) at their homes. Today Indonesian maids outnumbered Pilipino maids, in the past the latter were the only foreign domestic helpers in town. Pilipino maids are more professional while the Indonesian maids are more compassionate. With the aging population, Indonesian helpers are becoming an important human resource. As I can see it, they took care of the grannies with more compassion and love, oftentimes disregarding their personal interests and leisure time. Jihad has a different meaning for many Indonesian maids in Hong Kong.
If the compassion of an Indonesian maid represents the day to day practice of good Islamism, the road of a Sufi-to-be represents the higher level spiritual way of self-enlightenment of Islamism. Typically a student of Sufism will follow a Sufi master in the relation of a master and his disciple. The relationship is, behaviorally speaking, completely one sided. The student will have to follow the instructions of the master completely, without holding on a bit of his judgment (not even an attempt to avoid his own physical harm) or emotions (not even compassion towards others). The personality of the student becomes an adjunct to the master, who will test such dependency by requesting unreasonable tasks and meaningless duties from time to time, until such day the master proclaims the learning process of his student is finished and successful, or terminated and unsuccessful. The gist of it is totality: total acceptance and total dependence. And from which liberation comes.
But does that mean totally accepting the worldly reality, however one defines it, or not defining it at all?
No. For a Sufi, the only reality is total acceptance of and dependence on Allah. The master is only a signification of this spiritual enlightenment process. Only through total dependence can one be totally free to act in services of the Divine. Change is the end while dependence is only the means. A fundamental understanding of Sufism as well as all internal pursuit of experiential spirituality. It cannot be otherwise.