Saturday, January 14, 2006

Starting Point

A lot of factors go in to reaching a destination. We can look at the mode of travel, the speed, the diligence utilized for the trip, adequate planning for unforeseen obstacles and how well a person reads their map. While each of these criteria is important, the one aspect that is most important of all is where one begins the journey.

Let's say you want to move 100' to the west. If you begin this journey pointed west, there's a good chance you will succeed. However, if you set out moving solely north or south, you may never realize the goal. You will spend your life moving in circles, your chosen destination will appear to be beyond your grasp.

I've been reading a marvelous little book, "Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony". The author, Ming-Dao Deng, takes the reader into the world of Tao through the use of ancient Chinese calligraphy. Each page is devoted to a particular word like sun or field.

Two of the pages really got me to thinking about the starting points we humans choose. Below are snippets from Open (p. 27) and Purity (p. 30)
There is no curse on humanity. There is no original sin. There is no bad karma from previous transgressions. There is no spiritual wisdom forbidden to the people. The true spiritual downfall of humanity occurs only when people ignorantly and willfully close themselves to spiritual wisdom.

...The two leaves of each person's door are ignorance and selfishness. The ignorant think they know everything, and so they are not open to anything new. The selfish cannot think beyond themselves, and so they do not have the farsighted qualities needed to understand Tao. The wise open their doors wide and let the vitality of Tao flow freely.

Purity is the ultimate Tao...Innocence is to be absolutely clear, without the taint of selfishness. Innocence knows no ulterior motives, no lust for immortality, no drive to extraordinary. Innocence is simplicity.

The ancients taught that you are already innocent. No matter who you are, you have an inviolable core...It is not necessary to seek Tao in an intellectual way, or in an ambitious way, or in a selfish way. It is unnecessary to seek Tao for the sake of some supposed salvation. If you understand your own absolute purity, then you can see how unnecessary such methods are. You are already pure.
Tao offers an altogether different starting point than Christianity. According to the Christian religion, each person is born flawed, due to the concept of original sin. No matter how hard we try, we are each incapable of excising this primal blemish. Were it not for some outside force, we would be doomed from the outset.

It is only through the grace of God, through his son Jesus, that we may escape. We don't deserve to be pardoned; it's a gift based on faith. And, according to the fundamentalists of Christiandom, that faith has to meet very narrow guidelines or you may still be out of luck!

From the Taoist perspective, there is no original sin. We are each born pure and a measure of this purity exists in us, no matter how we try to cover it up. We don't need to look toward the heavens nor ask someone else for redemption. The power to return to the state of absolute purity resides in each of us. If we are open, unselfish and diligent, each of us can uncover our own core.

Two different starting points.

Two different world views.

Two different destinations.

Where are you headed?

1 comment:

  1. I started my Tao blogging with Everday Tao, and then did 365 Tao. Wonderful books. I don't always agree with Deng Ming Dao, but so much of what he says resonates. Sometimes I have to go back to the original Tao though and make my own interpretations.

    The great secret of Christianity is that Christ was actually a Taoist, as are most of the great prophets. That's why they end up getting killed, though. Which is why those who know do not say... so many people have to kill their heroes before they will respect them, it seems.


Comments are unmoderated, so you can write whatever you want.