Saturday, January 31, 2009

No Trumpets -- No Fanfare

The great Tao flows everywhere, both to the left and to the right.
The ten thousand things depend upon it; it holds nothing back.
It fulfills its purpose silently and makes no claim.

It nourishes the ten thousand things,
And yet is not their Lord.
It has no aim; it is very small.

The ten thousand things return to it,
Yet it is not their Lord.
It is very great.

It does not show greatness,
And is therefore truly great.
~ Tao Te Ching, Thirty-Four ~

In the monotheistic religions, the almighty (Allah, God, Jehovah) not only makes himself known, but demands your allegiance. He is described as a jealous supreme being who gets rather testy if you choose to worship a different supreme being. In a manner of speaking, the supreme entity is beset by all the petty emotions of his progeny.

In Taoism, Tao makes no claims at all. It doesn't announce itself. It doesn't demand you even acknowledge it. It simply is what it is. Each of us is part of it and it is part of us.

How can a supreme being be truly great, if it must tell you so? It's like those sorts of people -- we all know them -- who spend all their time bragging about their skills and exploits. No matter what anybody else says, such people will always try to one-up you.

We've learned from psychology that people who are too full of themselves tend to have a poor self-image. Therefore, they have an inherent need to pump themselves up in other people's eyes as a way to convince themselves of their own self-worth.

If we are created in the image of a God, does this mean the almighty suffers from this same malady too, that the supreme one needs to announce himself over and over again as a mechanism to convince himself of his own worth?

1 comment:

  1. i was reading the te of piglet by ben hoff today and the passage from the tao te ching was in the chapter i read today. really thought provoking.


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