Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Beyond Fuzziness

The Judeo-Christian Bible and Lao Tsu's Tao Te Ching address the issue of the ultimate reality in altogether different ways. The former declares the existence of an entity that shares a relationship with his creations, while the latter eschews the existence of an omnipotent being in favor of an underlying process that is present in all things.

One of the aspects of the Judeo-Christian tradition that I find most astonishing is that followers are taught that God (e.g., Yahweh, Jehovah) is omnipotent, ubiquitous and beyond human comprehension, yet the authors of the Bible itself spend an inordinate amount of column inches attempting to define and describe the indescribable.

As I've touched on before, it seems patently odd to me that this so-called almighty being would be imbued with all the petty emotions we humans possess (i.e., jealousy, anger, greed, guilt, etc.) the very emotions with which devotees are told are un-Godlike.

Compare this to the simple message of the beginning sentences of the Tao Te Ching.
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The Taoist philosophic tradition recognizes that the ultimate reality can neither be described nor defined because it is too large and too broad for the limited mind of humankind. However we try to describe or define it, we will miss the mark. Whatever we say, write or think will represent only a mere fraction of its entirety.

This well explains why Taoists spend little, if any, time trying to figure out what is beyond our comprehension. It's enough to spend our time and energy on all the things within our ability to comprehend; why waste valuable time on what we cannot know?

The Christian tradition, on the other hand, compels their followers to try to comprehend the unknowable, while often implicitly encouraging devotees to ignore the knowable.

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