Friday, January 13, 2006

Everything We Are

As a child, I had a fairly set routine. Monday through Friday I went to school. Every weekday at 4:30 p.m. I practiced the piano for 30 minutes. Sundays and Wednesday nights I went to church. Like so many others, my life was compartmentalized. In fact, this is an apt description for the vast majority of people in the civilized world.

Christianity -- particularly in its more conservative forms -- has sought to compartmentalize spirituality. The realm of God and worship is segmented from the rest of our lives. In order to get in touch with the divine, we must belong to a particular church, read particular books, listen to the words of particular clergy (who interpret FOR us the words in those particular books), and pray in a particular way.

Far worse, our spirituality is divorced from other aspects of our lives. This point is well stated in the current edition of Tikkun Magazine, "Making Room for Spirit". Materialism, the world of business, is of a realm different from spiritualism.

This helps to explain why a God-fearing conservative Christian feels no qualms whatsoever in running their business in a ruthless fashion. In business, it's okay to destroy the environment, alienate your workers, and treat your customers or consumers with callous disregard in an ever-charging sprint toward profit. Business is not bound by religious precepts.

So, after treating the world as their own personal fiefdom, the ruthless capitalist can go to church to mouth the sacraments and pray for forgiveness for their personal, though not their materialistic, shortcomings. After having performed their religious gig for the week, they return to the business world to pick up where the left off -- looting the planet and trampling people.

For the Taoist, there is no separation between spirituality and any other aspect of life. All are one in the same. How we conduct ourselves every minute of every day, regardless of the activity involved, reflects our spirituality.

As Ming-Dao Deng expresses it in "Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony",
Everything we do is Tao. Spirituality is not just "out there". It is all around us and in us. If we understand that, no matter where we look, spiritual revelations abound.
Whatever your belief system, live it in all you do. If you compartmentalize your spirituality from everything else, you divide yourself. And a divided house will fall.


  1. That's the same thing a friend of mine told me on my blog (although it is in Flemish): you don't have to invent a philosophy, just live your life without being bound to external dogma's (don't know if this is an English word). If Tao describes some parts of your life and other parts of your life are described in the Bible, then so be it.
    I'm also convinced that I am no Taoist, but the return to my own innocense is something Lao Tze speaks of and that's something that I try to do, that does not make me a Taoist or an anti-christ what so ever.

    It's fun to read your blog, your search for a deeper meaning in today's life is fascinating.

  2. I think this point about people behaving one way when conducting business and another way elsewhere in their lives, usually badly in the former and at least a little better, sometimes much better, in the latter, is fascinating and disturbing. A kind of schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder, but a mutant form that seems immune to other cultural influences, for there are corrupt, ruthless businesspersons all over the globe.

    I read a very interesting article months ago in a fantastic megazine called Ode (Google it), and it suggested that simply changing the limited liability that corporations enjoy, making it so that corporations can be held more accountable, could change the world.

    Tikkun also suggests that corporate charters should be subject to review and approval/renewal based partly on social responsibility.

    Slowly, and I hope surely, humans are figuring things out.

  3. Bert,
    Thanks for your comments. I enjoy reading your blog too, though I don't understand the comments written in Flemish. ;-)

    Your points re corporate character are much in line with POCLAD (Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy). In order to change the chartering statutes, we must turn to the 50 states, as the chartering provision is a state-based function.

    In the old days, prior to 1872, corporations had to meet public needs in order to get their charter renewed. Nowadays, they merely pay a renewal fee.

  4. Hello Trey,

    my blog is down for the moment, due to some internet problems (it runs at my parent's home). If everything goes well, it should be back online this week.

    ps: i can teach you Flemish, although only 15 million people speak it, so that's not very much :)


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