Monday, June 5, 2006

It's All Subjective!

On Saturday, at one of our local grocery stores, I got into a discussion with one of the courtesy clerks about religion and philosophy. When the clerk learned that I'm a Taoist (a what?), she wanted to know more. After I provided a 5 minute explanation, she looked at me in an odd way and said, "That sounds like a very self-centered philosophy". She went on to talk about people needing direction from others and a rock solid guidance system (i.e., the Bible).

If you think about it, Christianity -- her belief system -- is a lot more self-centered than [philosophical] Taoism. By and large, Christians tell other people what they should think, how they should believe and the forms these beliefs should follow. That's about as self-centered and egotistical as a person can get -- thinking that you know better than another as to how someone else should view the world!

Taoists don't pretend to tell others how or what they should think or believe. We leave it up to each individual to figure out for themselves. There are as many paths to enlightenment as there are people.

The idea that the Christian Bible offers a rock solid guidance system is laughable. If the message contained within is so concrete and definitive, why are Christians always disagreeing with each other on how this rock solid guide applies to the important issues of the day?

In Sunday's Daily World, there is an article about the contentious nature of church alignment over an anti-gay rights initiative that may appear on the Washington ballot this Fall. To wit:
The contentious debate over a new gay civil rights law has carried over to the pulpit, with some churches citing the Bible to exhort voters to repeal the measure, while others cite the same text to argue for its preservation.
As with ALL things human, understanding the Bible is wholly subjective. A myriad of variables impact how each believer will interpret and/or understand any sentence written in this tract. Consequently, it's about as rock solid as quicksand!

Since Taoists don't countenance any dogma nor possess any holy texts, we completely avoid these kinds of raucous debates. The only rock solid edifice in our lives is the world within and around us. And we recognize that each individual will interpret and/or understand the universe in different ways.

6 comments:

  1. I was immediately reminded of a time when I read two different articles by different Bible scholars who came to opposite conclusions in interpreting the exact same passage directly from the Greek text. Thus began my long journey of questioning everything and finally discovering my own truth (how selfish of me). This is not to say that much wisdom and truth cannot be found in the Hebrew/Christian Bible but as you say the problem arises when others (the so-called experts, or professionals) tell you how you must understand it.
    My conclusion? Try this one: There is only Ati.

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  2. Her position isn't so self-centered. If you think about it, her statement is exactly right!

    Taoism is about being self-centered...as in "Am I doing what is right?" or "Is this emotion I feel towards the other person a good one or not?" or "What justifies my actions in this case?"

    Christianity, the RELIGION, has long been about OTHERS-centered beliefs...as in: "Are they being good christians?" or "I believe in christ, why don't they!?" or "Those people are so immoral, how can I get them to stop their immorality!?"

    Oddly, the Bible is highly contradictory between its many parts...proving it is not a "holy text handed down by god"....the bible is a set of parables that aim to teach people good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, godly vs. ungodly.

    When viewed in this light, the bible becomes a source of great healing and wisdom. When viewed as a lever to force others to change their behaviors, it is an idol of demagoguery.

    The Tao is not some brain washing crap...it is a path to mental and emotional freedom. The dogma of institutional religion hates the thought of that...and they hate the thought of people believing they can find spiritual peace without the church.

    Of course, that makes no allowance for the christians I know who are outwardly judgemental and pushy with the dogma, but see it as wanting to help others feel the love of christ. *shrug* It takes all kinds!

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  3. Trey hath written:
    Since Taoists don't countenance any dogma nor possess any holy texts, we completely avoid these kinds of raucous debates. The only rock solid edifice in our lives is the world within and around us. And we recognize that each individual will interpret and/or understand the universe in different ways.

    Yes, but y'know, that approach requires thought, introspection, self-discipline and constant attention to the world around me. Wouldn't it just be easier to have a book and a leader and a whole group of peers just telling me what to think all of the time? That way, I can always know I'm right, and I can pass that info on to those who haven't been fortunate enough to be indoctrinated with "the one true way" yet.

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  4. rocks aren't solid. They have air spaces in them. ;^)

    Just sayin'.

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  5. Religions seem to suffer from "projection". Sometimes they see the bad things in other religions and never in their own. And sometimes they attribute characteristics (like self-centeredness) to a religion, when it is better placed in their own.

    Perhaps it is the "blindness of faith."

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  6. If the message contained within is so concrete and definitive, why are Christians always disagreeing with each other on how this rock solid guide applies to the important issues of the day?

    Ego. No one wants to face the inevitability that they are wrong.

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