Saturday, December 31, 2011

Behind Ahead

Trey Smith

For the past week or so, the media has been awash with 2011 retrospectives and 2012 projections. Re the latter, these often are phrased as "Looking Ahead to 2012."

What's interesting to me is that we can't see the future nor the non-immediate past; we can only see N-O-W which, in truth, is the immediate past. By this I mean that it takes a few nanoseconds for our brains to interpret what our eyes view, so while our eyes may see now, our brains always are a step or two behind.

We live in the past. Not the far past, mind you, that's come and gone.

But this idea of seeing the future is pure balderdash. The future doesn't yet exist, so what exactly could we see of something that isn't there in the first place?

Tao Bible - Jeremiah 20:12

But, O LORD of hosts, that triest the righteous, and seest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause.
~ King James version ~

The sage has no mind of his own.
He is aware of the needs of others.
I am good to people who are good.
I am also good to people who are not good.
Because Virtue is goodness.
I have faith in people who are faithful.
I also have faith in people who are not faithful.
Because Virtue is faithfulness.
~ from Verse 49 of the Tao Te Ching ~
Notice a difference between the prophet and the sage? The prophet delights in the divine punishment of others, while the sage seeks to help the good and the bad.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 9, Part 19 - Confucius

The Master said, "Never flagging when I set forth anything to him; ah! that is Hui."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Looking Back to 2009: Lessons from a Cedar

Trey Smith
Original Post Date: 2/24/09

Catty-corner from our house in back stands a vacant home built in the latter portions of the 1800s. It's owned by a local real estate person who had started to fix it up, but dropped the project in mid-course. So, it's not a derelict; it's simply old and vacant.

The piece of property the house sits on is gorgeous. There is a sloping yard ringed by several large majestic trees. One of these trees -- the 3rd tallest cedar -- has struggled mightily with our many storms. It has lost two main limbs and numerous branches. During the major storm of December 2007, it took, what I thought at the time, would be its fatal blow.

The largest limb from the midpoint was ripped from the tree. Not only was the limb thrown to the ground, but a huge chunk of the main trunk came with it! When I surveyed the damage, I was certain that the entire tree would come crashing down the next time we had even a modest windstorm.

Though we've had several windstorms since, including a small one last night, the tree remains standing. I gaze up at it every night before I fall asleep and every morning as I awaken. I've even gone over to talk to it several times. What do I say? I thank it for its powerful message.

Life isn't always pretty. Storms are natural and each one can take a little or a lot from the best of us. As we age, we each resemble this majestic cedar -- we sustain nicks, cuts and gouges. But if we follow our path (as this cedar follows its own), we can continue to stand strong despite our less than wholeness.

We can still provide shelter for others. We can still nourish the community. Most of all, we can stand as testament to Tao, that mystery of life.

Inevitably, the mighty cedar will one day die just as each of us shall die. Trees, however, continue to generate and sustain life around them. As they decay, they enrich the soil which brings forth new life.

We can only hope that our deaths do the same.

Afternoon Matinee: A People's History, Part 32

My Tao

Baroness Radon

I've been contemplating a New Year's resolution, to go eremetic, to stop ruminating, to stop reading, to stop Facebooking, YouTube-ing, blogging, forum-ing, basically, turning inward to paint and play music, drink tea (and a little Nigori) and contemplate clouds and rainbows from my lanai, with some qigong and meditation thrown in at appropriate times. A simple, quiet lay-Taoist lifestyle. I was even ready to ask Trey to take me off the masthead here, saying "So long and thanks for all the fish."

Part of this is due to too much participation, too much red dust and noise, even though much of it has been Tao-talk-related. Pose a simple question, raise a simple point, and you get arguments, sanctimony, tutelage and weird flavors of Tao (Advaita Tao, Zen Tao, socio-political Tao, quantum physics Tao, self-transformation Tao, self-negation Tao, TCM Tao, environmental, cultural, esoteric, orthodox, hippie, new-age goes on and on.)

In just the past week, not just on The Rambling Taoists, but in other forums, there have been deep and sometimes disturbing discussions and postings -- some of which leave me feeling like I'm the receptionist in the waiting room of a mental health clinic -- about guilt, free will, karma, text translation and exegesis, authenticity of practice, Chinese vs. western, ancient vs. modern, Lao Tzu vs. Jesus. All of which suggests to me that the real truth in Taoism is the contradiction and paradoxes it allows. So many Taoisms, so many Taoists. (But just one Tao.)

Particularly perturbing to me is a notion expressed by Ta-Wan, that "We are little else than a sensitive spot in the universe." Even if this is the case -- which I'm not sure it is -- why would you want to believe it? Why would you want to act as if that is true? That we are no more than trigger hairs on a Venus fly trap, the responsive leaves of a mimosa tree? This is a genuine question, not rhetorical astonishment. Even with quoting the masters (who are in fact, just some guys, like us, with something probably lost in translation), or with reference to direct experience (to which another cannot be a party), I cannot sign on that dotted line; it leaves too much out.

We are more than amoeba…we are self-aware energy beings.
We are particle and wave.
We are matter and energy.
We are here, in space.
We are now, in eternity.
We are body, mind, and spirit.
We are human beings, feet on earth, head in heaven.
We are sentient and knowing.
We are cause and effect.
We think and feel.
We are the freedom in a deterministic universe.
We are poems that “be” and stories that “mean.”
We are science and religion.
We are technology and art.
We are certain in our uncertainty; uncertain in our certainty.
We are born and die against our will, but while living, we exercise and express will.

This I believe, and this I act.

You can check out other musings from the Baroness here.

Looking Back to 2009: Close Encounters of a Weird Kind

Trey Smith
Original Post Date: 2/7/09

I just finished watching an interesting movie. I felt the director didn't do a very good job as the film seemed to lack continuity and the transitions from scene to scene were clumsy. The special effects bordered on amateurish -- many times it was readily apparent that I was looking at cheesy models. Yet, despite these weaknesses, I really enjoyed Mission to Mars (2000).

In my opinion, the strength of the film was the storyline and it certainly didn't hurt that 3 of the film's stars -- Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle and Gary Sinise -- are some of my favorites.

I'm not going to explain the entire premise here -- use the link above to read the plot summary -- except to say it has to do with humans encountering an "alien" life form. What I really liked about the storyline is that, unlike most films in this genre, the first impulse wasn't to attack the life form and destroy it.

I've often wondered why it is that most people believe that, if we ever come in contact with life forms from other planets or solar systems, said beings will be violent toward us. After watching this movie and contemplating afterward, I think I know the answer -- we judge potential others by our own human reflections!

If we look over the annals of human history, explorers of new lands immediately tend to want to oppress and subjugate the indigenous. When Columbus landed in the Caribbean or the pilgrims encountered Indian nations, that's precisely what transpired. It's the same pattern seen in Africa, Asia and Australia. The so-called conquerors, who believe themselves to be technologically and morally superior, sweep into "new" lands and, almost without exception, their first substantive move toward these unknown people is aggressive.

Since we humans behave in this manner, we project that other life forms must necessarily follow suit. So we end up with films like War of the Worlds, Alien and Independence Day as the norm with films like Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, ET and Starman as the exceptions.

I submit that one of the chief motivations behind our assumption that advanced life forms will necessarily be aggressive like us is borne out of many of our religious beliefs. Since in Judaism, Christianity & Islam the human species is said to be created in the image of the creator, we necessarily assume that other life forms cannot have achieved the level of moral consciousness that we have. Since we tend to be aggressive and warlike, it follows that other life forms must be too.

I will grant that this assumption may well be true -- if other advanced life forms do exist -- but I choose to believe the opposite. For all our technological advances, the human species, in many ways, hasn't advanced that far from our primitive origins. I'd like to believe that visitors from other worlds have surpassed our weak and relative morality to embrace peace, sustainability and harmony.

Line by Line - Verse 55, Lines 5-6

(The infant's) bones are weak and its sinews soft, but yet its grasp is firm.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

His bones are soft, his muscles weak,
But his grip is firm.

~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Their bones are weak, tendons are soft
But their grasp is firm

~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

A baby has soft bones
and weak muscles,
but a firm grip.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
As a young schoolboy, I had a keen fascination for Elmer's Glue. Like an infant, the liquid glop was soft and pliable. It was easy to spread...and smear. You could squirt it into the small cracks or huge depressions. It certainly didn't appear like it could hold ANYTHING together.

But once it had the opportunity to set, it was golly darn strong. I can remember deciding that a certain project wasn't quite the way I wanted it, but once the glue set, I couldn't get the darn thing apart! So, I cursed that infernal adhesive!

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Hello Mr Nailed Together Wood


I stole the basic gist of this idea from Alan Watts who judging by the rest of his career stole it from someone else (polite joke).

Two folks begin teaching in nothing more than a large hut in a small village. Children come to their school and the school gets a name. In time, as new youngsters come and the older children leave, new teachers come too, the school is expanded with a new building along side the old.

Years later some of the older teachers begin to leave and more new ones come, each year the ongoing flow of students, young coming in, older ones leaving, even at some point old students returning to be teachers or as parents bringing their own children to school. At some time, the newer building is extended and, at another time, the original hut changes purpose and then later is demolished and replaced by an even newer building. - This school is a process, not a thing. It has a name but none of its original parts are there.

A person is very similar to this process. Consider how your clothes, your ideas, your cells, the inflow of food and the replacing of all that makes you up goes on in just the same way as the school above. What makes you up now is not what made you up before, you're an ongoing flow. You have the same name (probably) and you have maintained an ongoing thread of self identity but nothing solid remains here that was there when the name was given or the 'me' claimed residence.

You're part of the process, the flow of Tao.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Chapter 9, Part 18 - Confucius

The Master said, "The prosecution of learning may be compared to what may happen in raising a mound. If there want but one basket of earth to complete the work, and I stop, the stopping is my own work. It may be compared to throwing down the earth on the level ground. Though but one basketful is thrown at a time, the advancing with it my own going forward."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Daily Tao - Being Receptive Not Forceful

What does it take for lady Yin to draw master Yang to her?

She just opens to this.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

How I'm Different

Scott Bradley

The other day Ta-Wan sent me a piece by Tony Parsons, a spiritual teacher, asking me whether I thought our messages are basically the same. After reading it I, replied that they are. In fact, I realized that I had read something by Tony several years ago. He is, if my memory serves me, the guy about whom I have previously alluded as having been 'awakened' while walking in the park.

What I failed to mention to Ta-Wan in my reply was how our messages are fundamentally different. The difference is that Tony is speaking out of experience and I am speaking out of my mind, or through my hat, as some might put it. That's a big difference. He knows what he's talking about; I do not.

But don't think this will shut me up. No way!

I find it curious that an intellectually derived way of understanding the world and an experiential one can so easily converge on one level and yet be worlds apart on another. Of course nothing is as clear cut as the mind would make it. Tony thinks and draws conclusions about his experience. I experience stuff, too. Yet there is that one experience, the utterly transforming one, that makes all the difference.

So, here's Tony with the message and the experience; where does this leave me? Should I become his disciple, fly to Britain and attend his seminar? And then...? I think not. The problem is that though Tony can perhaps give me the message a little bit more clearly, he cannot give me the experience. I want to write him and say, Hey Tony, I get it; so how do I make it a transformative experience? But I know that Tony cannot answer that question. And that's the only one that I need answered.

This leads me to the meat of what I wish to say here. There are many out there who have had the transformative experience to which I (admittedly) aspire. And though they can point in helpful ways to what that experience entails, they cannot drag, push or instruct anyone through the gate. We are all left with our own particular pilgrimages; we must each one find his or her own way.

So, I will expose myself more to Tony's words; because they are good words. But this particular adventure — my adventure — with its quirks and failings, ups and downs, promising leads and obvious dead ends, will go on; because it must.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

The New, New, New, New Year

Trey Smith

The moment you read these words, a new year is starting.

If a second or two later, you belch or fart, a new year is starting.

If you walk across the room, a new year is starting.

If you fall dead once you reach the other side, a new year is starting (though probably NOT for you...sorry.)

Every nanosecond of your existence begins a new year. So, keep some confetti in your pocket and life can be a constant celebration!

3W 42

There is no mystery whatever - only inability to perceive the obvious.
~ A selection from All Else is Bondage; Non-Volitional Living by Wei Wu Wei. Click here for more from this book. ~

Friday, December 30, 2011

Tao Bible - Jeremiah 18:11

Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.
~ King James version ~

Two wrongs don't make a right.
~ possible Taoist alternative ~
I could have quoted from Verse 27 of the Tao Te Ching (as I have before), but this will suffice.

What God supposedly is saying here is that, if you're going to be bad, I'm gonna be worse. How exactly does that help the situation?

Tao does not act based on how I act. The laws of nature are what they are. If I go against them, they will win out in the end. The choice is mine.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 9, Part 17 - Confucius

The Master said, "I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Do What You Fear To Do

Shawn Tedrow

Our historical experiences formed our identity-personality. Past emotional encounters of yesterday are why we respond to life the way we do today. Our reactions today seem new, but they are from the old, still living today.

If we are offended today, it is because of yesterday's wounds being revisited. If we have a fear of intimacy, and our life is lived as such, it is because we have a fear of betrayal and rejection, appearing to us once again. Our phantom past dictates our thinking and living today.

When the world around us touches our ancient wounds, laying blame and pushing away the world from us, it spins this seemingly endless, egoic-wheel. It just adds fuel to this hellish wheel of fire. It is like throwing fire into fire. Instead, we must allow ourselves to become vulnerable and exposed to the possibility of anything.

Meditative contemplation is not enough. Freedom doesn't come through touching our thoughts with a soothing Tao feather. Go to where the rubber of this egoic-wheel meets the road, where life is lived. That place where the heat of friction can be sensed, that place we painstakingly avoid. This is called practice.

If you fear intimacy, open yourself up to potential betrayal and rejection. Do what you fear to do.

Do not let fear continually spin this wheel. Submission to the dictations of fear is the life-blood of ego’s appearance of permanence.

There are two doors with signs on them. One door says “The Commands of Fear”. The other says, “Mystery”.

How do we unlock this door of mystery?

Stop taking fear's commands to turn left or right. Don’t surrender into the door of "The Commands of Fear", where boundaries have been unconsciously weaved, that we mistakenly call living. Instead, surrender into doing what you fear to do, and spin off, and away from this phantom wheel into the door of mystery.


Disclaimer: I am not suggesting that you do this practice with all fears. There are natural fears of wisdom, like a fly has when it dodges a flyswatter. There are also unnatural conditioned fears.

A special thanks to Hakuin Ekaku, 1686-1769, whose motto was, “meditation in the midst of activity is a thousand times superior to meditation stillness”. Hakuin’s teaching was in opposition to what he called, “Do-nothing Zen”, teachers. These teachers taught that by simply emptying the mind would lead to enlightenment and also instructed that peaceful emptiness IS enlightenment.

Hakuin urged his students never to be satisfied with shallow attainments, and truly believed that enlightenment was possible for anyone if they “exerted themselves” and approached their practice with real energy. I am sure that the spirit of this type of teaching would not be very popular in today’s fast- food spiritual marketplace.

You can check out Shawn's other musings here.

Afternoon Matinee: A People's History, Part 31

Is There Death Before Life? IV

Scott Bradley

This started as a single post which got too long, divided, and now seems to have become a colony. I continue because I find it provides a fresh perspective on what it is to be human.

I began with an exploration of the Zhuangzian assertion that life and death are a single thread. What this means to me is that we are mistaken when we see death as simply the negation of life and thus other than a part of life, just as life is a part of death. One does not manifest without the other. Thus, if we take that larger view that Zhuangzi continually suggests we do, we accept life and death as a single package. With this in mind he says, "What makes my life good, also makes my death good."

But I have taken it a bit further, I think, and suggested that death is also a single thread. Understanding death, not simply as the negation of life, but as that which precedes, follows, and manifests in life as its most fundamental nature, the non-being at the heart of our being, death becomes our most immediate experience of reality. I have purposely avoided giving it a new name because an important aspect of this view of death is the transformation of the narrow death-as-negation-of-life concept into something immensely broader.

I have previously discussed and negatively critiqued the notion that death is the opposite of birth, not of life, the implication being that there is life before birth. This may be the case, but since we cannot know it to be true, to suggest it is, is to offer up that proverbial "pot of buddha-flesh", the assertion of a false religious hope. This is fine for those who wish to pursue that course, but in the context of the traditions which this blog and these posts wish to explore, it is a retreat from the stark not-knowing that opens a way to a different way of knowing.

I have revisited this critique because I wish to apply it to the concept of death as a single thread. Specifically, it should not be understood as asserting the continuity of the existence of an individuated 'me'. Death may very well be the negation of life as an individual experience. Nor does it intend to imply that a 'true self' transcendent of the egoic self is any less entirely dependent of the life of the body for its existence.

If death is an essential part of who I am, namely "an emptiness", then perhaps there is comfort in realizing the continuity of that emptiness. Yet this would seem to offer about as much comfort as "from dust to dust". In this way (tao), however, comfort is attained not through comfort, but through that which requires no comfort, namely through realizing the emptiness we are.

'True self' is free of the fear of death because it is that which remains when death has already been realized in the transcendence of the egoic 'me'. The trick, then, is to die even now, in life. Fear not the living dead, however; they do not eat the brains of the living. This is a vicious lie; quite the contrary, it is the living un-dead who must feed off others.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Line by Line - Verse 55, Line 4

birds of prey will not strike him.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

He will not be attacked by birds of prey.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Birds of prey do not attack them
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

[No corresponding line]
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
Once again, turning to Derek Lin, we learn that "the birds of prey represent greed and envy." The point of this line and the previous two is that newborns are free of all the petty emotions that bedevil us for the rest of our lives.

And this is why Lao Tzu (as well as Jesus) holds the newborn in such high esteem. It is because newborns have such few, if any, expectations that they take life as it comes and are not upset when it doesn't go as they expect it should or might.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Sensitive to Free Will


Taoism by nature of Wu Wei and other ideas, perhaps especially those put forward by Chuang Tzu, leans more in favor of there not being actual free will. In many texts Taoism though does commonly say that we "Should" do this, "Should Not" do that so discount this claim unless we alter "Should" (/not) to "Ought" (/not)*.

Fatalism is the commonly inferred antithesis to free will and so people nearly always reject views on there being no free will as they fear and dislike the idea of fatalism. This need not be the case, however, as clearer alternatives exist. Fatalism still believes that something causes events and this half cause/effect relationship, which is still ultimately cause/effect brings us to a position not really answering anything. It is not only unsatisfactory to most is it also not a strong antithesis.

What I have seen in my own personal endeavors to answer these questions and in my readings of Taoism and Zen as they venture into these realms is that we are sensitive to events, that is all. This is a very magical and privileged vantage point on reality as we witness this unfolding show but do not direct it. It is an important place for anyone standing tight with a philosophy of Oneness such as Taoism to not allow for cause/effect, doer/done situations to enter their descriptions on reality as it is reiterated over and over that Tao does not lord over anything. If Tao does not, and we're all one, then we'd better accept that free will and cause and effect are not in perfect compatibility with Taoism.

That this universe, nature, these other people and all else appears around us and that we feel ourselves as something within all of that we are naturally in some uneasy predicament when we attempt to rectify this prickly subject. The answer though, for me at least and I don't know many who can relate their views on the subject to me, is one of magical wonder. Quite the same magic I believe Chuang Tzu and others felt when they viewed the world. We are little else than a sensitive spot in the universe. Imagining the universe as it is, large expanses of space, lumps of rock, voluminous fire balls, more space, places where chemicals mix and react, places where life dances, then we seem to be little tiny and very sensitive cells in the universal entity. We have our senses where we can touch things, touch compressions in air, touch chemical traces in the air, touch light as it bounces off things. We are also very sensitive to energy changes, emotional flows in our bodies and minds and I see that we are sensitive to Tao's flow, be that Chi or Te.

That is in fact all I believe we are and we are not entities with volition but entities who amongst sensing things that do appear to happen we are sensitive to what could happen or could have happened and in this we could, quite by comical inevitable accident be lead to believe that we are the fatalistic bystander or the doer of the acts - when we are neither.

We are a sensitive spot in the universe and we sense and feel its apparent movements. By privilege of our position we also get to seem to see and seem to interact with other sensitive entities as they too do the same.


* I'm attempting to differentiate between "should" inferring you; 'must, if possible, choose (not) to' and "ought" inferring that; 'it would be best if possible, but what can we do?'.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Chapter 9, Part 16 - Confucius

The Master standing by a stream, said, "It passes on just like this, not ceasing day or night!"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Daily Tao - Practice IS Perfection

Whatever you did to get you to truth, you must now maintain that practice to keep it.

You, did nothing.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

Is There Death Before Life? III

Scott Bradley

I am revisiting this theme because I sense it has much more to teach.

What is meant by death in this question is not what we normally understand by the word. It does not strictly mean the cessation of life, although because there is life as something in some sense other than death, that meaning does apply in part. If there is death before there is life, however, then death is something much greater than the mere incidence of the cessation of life.

In this case, death is not merely a negation, but itself a positive 'something'. I am tempted to call it 'non-existence' or 'non-being' so as to have something more conventional and palatable to grasp, but these are abstract, metaphysical concepts and I have no desire to attempt a definition of reality. Suffice it to say, therefore, that, as a consequence of life as a reflective experience, death becomes a 'something'. Still, the word death wants to mean only the negation of life, and the temptation to use another (emptiness?) is strong. But I am going to resist that temptation and ask you to try and understand it as 'something' much more than that. A large part of this exercise is, in fact, to break the reflexive belief that death is only the opposite of life.

If life emerges from death and returns to death, death in some sense trumps life. Death is the condition for life. Death is the prevailing norm. This is not intended to imply that life and death are therefore in opposition to each other; quite the contrary, they are in complete harmony — only life is now seen as part of death, rather than death as part of life.

When the Zhuangzi suggests we return to what we were before our parents were born, I think it is asking us to discover the death which is in us. If we emerge from and return to death, might not death still be a big part of who we are? I think it is. In fact, I think it is what we most essentially are. And now, perhaps, we might want to give it other names; let's call it 'emptiness', 'tenuousness', 'becoming'. We could call it 'non-being' if we do not oppose it to 'being' or understand it to be a real attribute of reality.

Many commentators, old and new, have defined the thought of Laozi and Zhuangzi as emphasizing Non-being as opposed to Being. I think this is a great mistake and the imposition of a metaphysics where none was implied. Rather, they simply exhort us to return to the essential emptiness which lies at our core — an emptiness which, because it is experience, requires no definition.

Thus, we discover that death is the very reality in us — our essential emptiness — which to experientially realize is to be liberated from the burdens of our tenuous existence, that is, the need 'to be' and its concomitant fear of loss. We are, in a very real sense, already dead. Rejoice and be glad.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

3W 41

The seeing of Truth cannot be dualistic (a 'thing' seen).
It cannot be seen by a see-er, or via a see-er.
There can only be a seeing which itself is Truth.
~ A selection from All Else is Bondage; Non-Volitional Living by Wei Wu Wei. Click here for more from this book. ~

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guilt! ...ends


These posts are a taoist fix to the buddhist concern as voiced by the daili lama

As mentioned in the post titled Guilt! there are reasons and ways, millions of them, that excuse us from freedom. Things such as guilt over our basic need for happiness, guilt that arises when we consider those worse off than ourselves. Who is the poorest person here on earth, where is the saddest caged animal, which of all the ongoing wars is most terrible, which injustice or act of oppression most terrible, who do we help first in disaster? Must we solve these before we get to being happy ourselves? Must we allow only the poorest to get what they need before the rest of us? Compassion alone is quite a trap when not intertwined with wisdom.

There is a natural draw towards happiness in us all which can't be stopped. The wisest level of happiness is contentedness and this has been said again and again in Buddhism and Taoism. Too little is bondage, too much is bondage. In the middle as we are then we should all be content and only a shift in our seeing can bring about that freedom. It is apparent to us all that suffering and financial richness are complimentary and apparent also that they pre existed this birth and will live on after death. We will likely have ideas on how to fix these issues and we will certainly have views on how they could be better. This is the case also with war, politics, animal rights, workers rights, aiding the sick, the aged and so on. There are situations that outlive us, possible fixes, certain better ways, compassion draws us to thought, aid or charity, and only wisdom combined with this can lead us to freedom.

In the land just to the borders of wise compassion live other viewpoints such as "well we're alright... I can't think about all that... They'll be ok... What can I do?... and so on. These views are selfish and we don't wish to leave compassion and wisdom for selfishness, that would not allow for contented freedom at all. We likely see that these views are part of the perceived problem. Our ultimate aim is freedom and to get there we need to consolidate our issues on this meta problem, or do we?

As it is us seeking the freedom and release then perhaps the wisdom and compassion need first to be provided to ourselves. To see that we make up for a fraction of all of this and hey, it's not us fighting, oppressing, stealing from nature to leave natures humans short of her gifts. We do though here balance and perhaps make excuses for a certain selfishness and I'm aware that can be said of any solution. Wisdom and compassion for ourselves does though have absolute validity and absolute necessity. Should we not provide ourselves with this then we can not possibly extend it to the world and we will be as much a part of the problem as any other thing we cite.

We only care for others behavior (good or bad) if we are not content in ourselves and so for that contentedness to be the case we stop the urge to change the world and we look inwards. Inwards we see a human like any other who wants happiness and the avoidance of suffering. We add to this that seeking happiness is the definition of sadness and we see wisely that the world has been this way our whole life and much longer so while compassionate to this we accept that only an in-seeing compassion can benefit. Finally we see that the greatest freedom emerges from this; that; We can not change the world, only our attitude towards it. The greatest freedom comes from being free from the desire to prove ourselves free.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Chapter 9, Part 15 - Confucius

The Master said, "Abroad, to serve the high ministers and nobles; at home, to serve one's father and elder brothers; in all duties to the dead, not to dare not to exert one's self; and not to be overcome of wine: which one of these things do I attain to?"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.



These posts are a taoist fix to the buddhist concern as voiced by the daili lama

Is it guilt keeping you from the ultimate freedom?

"I wish to be free!" Said the pupil
"What is keeping you from this freedom?" Asked the master
"......nothing is!" Said the pupil as he realized his true nature

Years after this old Zen story people are not freed by simply realizing that nothing binds them as, something is binding them! The world has become so much more complicated, religions and beliefs of the common man, such as those passed on via the media, bind people in guilt. Fundamentally, ask anyone, all they want is happiness and the avoidance of suffering, yet this simple drive that drives all humans, and many animals even, has been made taboo. In seeking what is wanted, people are reminded to consider the needy and the environment. You'd be showered in stones for claiming that the needy need no help and nature can manage alone.

How has this come to be? How can anyone be born into a world and then require charity or support? The world can sustain us all, where did this problem come from? It has been manufactured. Naturally there is plenty, but, by design, it was stuck in a box and the system, brought about to be now commonly accepted as normal, is that we are to buy what we need or await charity. - Madness.

Now when the common man, spiritual in nature as we are, follows the base directives of his human code, seeks to be happy and avoid suffering, he's riddled in guilt as, there are billions who can't eat! Think of them! Well hang on a second, we shout, I'm a living being on this living planet, I did not subscribe to ideas older than me (which I therefore can not be legally bound to as I was under the legal age of consent when they were made) that say nature is an asset owned by some and to be sold with the dire consequence of global poverty.

Before any law or statue be made or upheld then the freedom to seek happiness, avoid suffering, and eat freely from earth must first be upheld as inalienable.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Afternoon Matinee: A People's History, Part 30

Is There Death Before Life? II

Scott Bradley

In the previous post it was suggested that Zhuangzi's "life and death are one thread" can be better understood when we see death, not as merely a future possibility, as an end to life, but also as the source of life. The death which will be is no different from the death that was, and that same death is the death that is now in me. In this sense, death is expressed in life as conscious experience without fixity.

Zen speaks of the Great Death. This is the realization of death in life, where death is not the extinction of life, but its source and most essential attribute. Death is the vastness beyond the individuation of identity. To live that death now is to participate now in the vastness. It is to be empty. And thus to be full.

Previously, I have discussed whether 'original face' should be understood as a something. Is there a 'buddha-nature' transcendent of space and time, and is it me? There is a natural inclination to want it to be so. Zen would sometimes suggest it is so, yet would eschew any suggestion that it is. To experience me-lessness in the present is to be neither a nothing nor a something; it is to be empty. Emptiness is a something which is nothing and a nothing which is something. It is experience free of all fixity.

Death is as ever much a part of life as life itself. This is not death as a future prospect, but the death that you now are. The death that you were and the death you will be are the same death which you presently are. You are not now other than what you were (or were not) before you were born, nor are you now other than what you will be (or not be) when you are dead. It is all one thread. And that thread begins and ends in the Vastness where there is neither beginning nor ending.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Line by Line - Verse 55, Line 3

fierce beasts will not seize him;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Wild beasts will not pounce upon him;
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Wild beasts do not claw them
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

wild beasts can't attack him.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
Derek Lin explains that "wild beasts represent fear and anger." Newborns know neither. They don't view the world as separate; it is seen as a mere extension of themselves!

As we grow beyond infancy, we learn the art of expectation. When we expect something to go this way or that and it doesn't, this is the point where fear, to a lesser extent, and anger, to a greater extent, kicks in. In most cases, when we temper our expectations, there is no place for anger.

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Who's winning?


A company email addressed to the team and from the boss came titled:

A good slogan I just read

"Winners must have two things; definite goals and burning desire to achieve them."

I was tempted to reply with:

The contented person

"sees that to aspire to be a winner is to define yourself as a loser"

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Chapter 9, Part 14 - Confucius

The Master said, "I returned from Wei to Lu, and then the music was reformed, and the pieces in the Royal songs and Praise songs all found their proper places."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Daily Tao - Knowing or Wisdom

Feeling like you don't know, you seek knowledge.

Knowledge from others is not complete and not your own.

So you feel even more like you don't know.

The wise at this point say “I can't know” and shift their attentions to perfecting this wisdom.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

Is There Death Before Life? I

Scott Bradley

A monk asked a Master: "Before my parents gave birth to me, where is my nose?"
The Master replied: "When you are already born of your parents, where are you?"
(Transmission of the Lamp; Studies in Zen; D.T. Suzuki)

This mondo addresses a common theme in both Taoism and Zen, but adds a novel twist. In the Zhuangzi it is suggested that one return to that which one was before his parents were born. This is echoed in the Zen literature in the question, "What was your original face before your parents were born?" Here, the implications of that answer are brought to bear on the present experience of life. The apparent lack of a 'you' before birth suggests the lack of a 'you' after birth, just as death suggests a lack of 'you' after death.

If we consider life and death as a single thread, that thread stretches into the past as well as the future. Death precedes life, just as it follows it. But this would make death something other than simply the end of life since it already precedes life. The implication is that death is no longer defined in terms of the extinction of the individual, but also as the source of the individual. In this sense, death is a return. Reality after death is a return to Reality before birth.

A you-less past and a you-less future in some sense suggests a you-less present. I qualify this statement because there is some sense of a you-fullness in the present. Yet it is now a qualified you-fullness. You are and you are not. And being this, being what you were (and were not) before you were born and what you will be (and will not be) after you are dead, is to realize the point of Zhuangzi's single thread here now in the present. This unites the life experience "into a Totality", as he has it. All is securely hidden in the One.

This is a strategy for understanding and being reconciled to death. Is it a valid one? I do not think so, if it is understood as somehow explaining Reality. Yet as a metaphor, as an upaya, it has practical validity; it works.

Chen Jen wrote, "Ready to die you are ready to live / Free from fear and grasping / is free to live indeed." When life and death have become a single string, life is free to follow its natural course; there is nothing to fear, nothing to grasp. This is life in its fullness.

When the you-lessness of the past and the you-lessness of the future are realized in a you-lessness of the present, this is freedom. This was the experience of Yan Hui when he exclaimed, "I have not yet begun to exist!" This is the meaning of Zhuangzi's summation of his philosophy: "It's just being empty; nothing more."

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

3W 40


The Doctrine is the doctrine of non-doctrine,
The Practice is the practice of non-practice,
The Method is meditation by non-meditation,
And Cultivation which is cultivation by non-cultivation.

This is the Mind of non-mind, which is wu hsin,
The Thought of non-thought, which is wu nien,
The Action of non-action, which is wu wei,
The Presence of the absence of volition,
Which is Tao.
~ A selection from All Else is Bondage; Non-Volitional Living by Wei Wu Wei. Click here for more from this book. ~

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Response to Yang Rising and Other Stuff

Scott Bradley

After reading the comments on the recent post, I Feel My Yang Arisin', I think it might be worthwhile to share what it was about for me. It was, first of all, a spoof, albeit a serious one. I often attempt to convey what I believe to be interesting or provocative ideas in a less than a serious tone. It is serious, but one shouldn't take it too seriously; the medium is intended to convey this message. Reference to 'Bruce Lee (fl. 645)' was intended to make clear that this post was a bit spoofier than usual.

I have been thinking and writing a lot lately about the Yin/Yang concept, and this post was in some sense a culmination of some of that thought. Unfortunately, those posts have yet to be posted and thus this post appeared without that context.

In my Christmas Day post, Where Are The Prophets? Lo Ami, I expressed a lot of Yang; the Yang rising post was my attempt to express the understanding that following the Way of the Valley, the Way of Yin, does not negate the expression of Yang, but rather makes it possible without its being only and always an expression of the assertiveness of ego.

On another note, this seems like a good time to explain once again that I am online only once a week on average and must do so out-of-doors. Thus, I am unable to answer 6 of 7 comments before they are archived.

With regard to some recent comments, it seems I need to again re-iterate that, yes, these posts are all about me and my issues. I would otherwise have nothing to say. Every exhortation, every lecture, every point made is addressed to myself. I write these things out of my own self-awareness. I recognize these issues, ponder them, and share their possible resolution out of this awareness; they are issues only because they are recognized. There is an element of vulnerability in doing so, but that is also part of the Way of the Valley and this is the path of self-cultivation that I have chosen to follow.

Sometimes what I share may also speak to someone else's issues. But in any event, there is a message in the exercise of discovering and working through personal issues however irrelevant they may be to any one individual. If one is not likewise working through personal issues, he or she is either a sage, unaware of his or her own issues, or is simply not truly committed to self-cultivation in this way. Self-cultivation through self-awareness is not necessarily a blissful endeavor; in making it a point to discover one's bondage, one also increases the burden of that bondage. It is for this reason that I frequently emphasize the larger context of total affirmation and acceptance. All is well despite the bondage.

The object of self-cultivation is, of course, one's self. Dwelling on the issues of others is simply a way of avoiding that work.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

Chapter 9, Part 13 - Confucius

The Master was wishing to go and live among the nine wild tribes of the east.

Someone said, "They are rude. How can you do such a thing?"

The Master said, "If a superior man dwelt among them, what rudeness would there be?"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Tao Essence and the Zen Rot


It can't be touched, seen, tasted, smelled or heard. Not sensed one bit. It must be nonsense, make no sense, not sensible, or you're not sensitive to it.

It was what was when you were being a new born baby, when you were making no sense of the world. You were taught separation, gradually, taught to differentiate, name and categorize things, you were acted towards as if you were a thing with a name and in time you adopted the name and accepted your separation. By your adolescence, your sense of self was so concrete that you'd spend nine hours in ten dedicated to your sense of self, comparing it to others, adapting it, dressing it, wishing for it to get naked with and sense some carnal essence. The true self that was being the baby, was being the adolescent, had been ignored like the glass of a TV screen is missed when characters enthrall.

In later life, you saw the world in a new way, the seemingly concrete sense of self was seen to be just a sense and perhaps even nonsense. A wisdom was born that all was one and that this sense of separation was constructed, acts of this constructed self were more often seen as play acting, puppets on the stage, puppets who'd forgotten the same puppeteer had a hand in both.

In time, a seeking was undertaken to discover the lost self, but the methods and even the doer of the seeking were rooted in a world, that of concept, so traps lay at every turn. A simple truth emerged though, so clear, so obvious, so simple, this, is it. Sitting or walking one day, or in some other simple act, painting, gardening, washing potatoes, you were struck. Behind the watcher was an infinite oneness that did not judge, name, sense, rejoice or complain, it enveloped the totality. The being you were when you were a new born child.

In this complete emptiness you were present and whole, yet soon, natural habits began to whirl up from a lifetime of beliefs that only the learned program of 'me in the world' was real. A change had occurred though, the programmed self had met and been struck by a timeless self and the programmed self had a natural attitude to this, it wanted to be, have or use this new discovery to draw it from suffering.

It seemed now perhaps that these two selves were incompatible or living them was unhealthy, the new books you were drawn to spoke of the constructed self as negative and the true self to be something to be sought with all you could muster, in fact the wise on these subjects said there was nothing more important than the discovery of the true self. You thought it through, hadn't you rediscovered it by doing nothing though? Hadn't it just made itself apparent one day through no effort? Wasn't it already the case at birth? You saw this to be the case, oneness was the case, the problem then? Was the constructed self!

Now Zen sickness had set in its rot. You tried to remove you. This terrible joke had you in its grip. Stories of great blissful ones who had achieved this mighty feat of ridding themselves of the constructed self leaving them in everlasting bliss, fueled the very egoic self onwards in the task equivalent to a knife trying to cut itself out of existence. You'd been better off when you were unaware of the true self, you had the act well played, you were the best there'd ever been at playing you. You could not go back though, a window had opened and you could not live this side of it without its presence drawing you to the other side.

So far this story is, in a general case, the story of the common spiritual seeker. What follows is perhaps and hopefully what it takes to end the journey.

You can see both selves as you are the glass in the window, not a third self, but the non-self. You can look out into the projected and constructed world of the conceptual self in the world and you can look inward at the essence. No need to affirm or deny either, the magic is that you are infinite Tao and by way of infinity you can act a role where you are separate. To act the role convincingly and to provide infinity with a show of ceaseless wonder, you forget your true nature and you live out a role where you are not in control. Feel privileged that you can see both ways, enjoy what the show brings and live free of fear as you're, as you came to realize by peeling potatoes, infinite oneness. Tao.

You can check out Ta-Wan's other musings here.

Afternoon Matinee: A People's History, Part 29

The GOP Sideshow

Trey Smith

Much has been written about the sorry state of the current field of individuals vying for the Republican nomination for President in 2012. In many ways, it resembles a sideshow replete with freaks, wonders and human curiosities. Each time one of the main characters ascends to the top of the ladder, the Republican faithful see the candidate's exposed fanny and, almost instantaneously, knock the pole sitter off the ladder!

In their numerous debates, these candidates try to outdo one another in the most ludicrous ways. They enthusiastically reject science, statistics and commonsense. They make up "facts" that almost any third grader could disprove without breaking a sweat. They mangle names and almost all of them seem to have failed in geography class.

Why is it that only the clowns from the GOP circus have thrown their hats into the proverbial center ring?

Writing in The Guardian, Glenn Greenwald my have discovered the answer!
In fairness to the much-maligned GOP field, they face a formidable hurdle: how to credibly attack Obama when he has adopted so many of their party's defining beliefs. Depicting the other party's president as a radical menace is one of the chief requirements for a candidate seeking to convince his party to crown him as the chosen challenger. Because Obama has governed as a centrist Republican, these GOP candidates are able to attack him as a leftist radical only by moving so far to the right in their rhetoric and policy prescriptions that they fall over the cliff of mainstream acceptability, or even basic sanity.
In other words, Democrats like President Obama are the real culprits. As Greenwald points out, on issue after issue, Obama has moved in to claim the traditional Republican turf. Since everyone knows that the Republicans are the right-leaning political party, they have been forced by the Democratic Party to move to the outer right fringe.

So, what does this leave the American voter? If you chose to participate in this rigged electoral system, you get to choose between a Republican (Obama) or a fringe nutcase (the Republican nominee). What kind of choice is that?!

If you identify with left-of-center politics, you're shit out of luck. Even worse, if you define yourself as a moderate -- someone in the middle -- you're in the same boat. The only voters these days who are granted the possibility of a choice are the conservatives and even some of them are turned off by the choices as well.

Line by Line - Verse 55, Line 2

Poisonous insects will not sting him;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Wasps and serpents will not sting him;
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

Poisonous insects do not sting them
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

bees can't sting him,
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
Needless to say, this line (and the next two) is not to be taken literally. If you set your child on a yellowjacket's nest, chances are very good that the poor child would be stung left and right! Derek Lin tells us that "poisonous insects represent the sting of malicious gossip."

To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Looking Back to 2009: Spare the Rod, Spoil the Wife

Trey Smith
Original Post Date: 2/2/09

A very interesting article, "Biblical Battered Wife Syndrome: Christian Women and Domestic Violence" was posted on Alternet this morning. It explores the issue of spousal abuse within the confines of fundamentalist Christianity and this exploration isn't very pretty.
What is a good enough reason for divorce? Well, according to Rick Warren’s Saddleback church, divorce is only permitted in cases of adultery or abandonment -- as these are the only cases permitted in the Bible -- and never for abuse.

As teaching pastor Tom Holladay explains, spousal abuse should be dealt with by temporary separation and church marriage counseling designed to bring about reconciliation between the couple. But to qualify for that separation, your spouse must be in the “habit of beating you regularly,” and not be simply someone who “grabbed you once.”

“How many beatings would have to take place in order to qualify as regularly?” asks Jocelyn Andersen, a Christian domestic violence survivor and advocate, author of the 2007 book Woman Submit! Christians and Domestic Violence, an indictment of church teachings of wifely submission and male headship. As she sees it, by convincing women that leaving their relationships is not an option, these teachings have laid the ground for a domestic violence epidemic within the church.

Andersen writes from personal experience, describing an episode of being held hostage by her husband -- an associate pastor in their Kansas Baptist church -- for close to twenty hours after he’d nearly fractured her skull. Andersen was raised in the Southern Baptist Convention, where she heard an unremitting message of “submission, submission, submission.” She saw this continual focus reflected in her ex-husband’s denunciations, while he detained her, of women who wanted to “rule over men.” Though Andersen was rescued by her church’s pastor, who had his assistant pastor arrested himself, she says other churchwomen aren’t so lucky, particularly when churches tell couples to attend joint marriage counseling under lay ministry leaders with no specific training for abuse survivors, who instead offer an unswerving prescription of submission and headship, often telling women to learn to submit “better.”
As a former licensed social worker, I realize that the plague of domestic violence isn't confined to any one religious tradition. It occurs across economic, religious, ethnic and geographic lines. However, while some atheist (or even Taoist) husbands most likely beat their wives, the victims of this violence don't have to fight through religious mores and laws to find safety!

In essence, this kind of violence almost is institutionalized in fundamentalist religions. This should surprise no one because these religions were created by men, not women. In fact, if we look at the Judeo-Christian tradition, women are not treated as feeling and sentient beings at all, but as property! Fundamentalists tend to favor the idea that a man (not a woman, of course) can do whatever he damn well pleases with HIS property.

If a person had no other issues with Christian thought, this particular issue should give one pause. Why should women be treated as property or second-class citizens? For that matter, why is God conceived of as a he? It would make far more sense if God was not gender specific. The very fact that a specific gender is indicated should inform anyone that the concept of God was conjured up by members of the gender that is forever least in THEIR eyes.

Chapter 9, Part 12 - Confucius

Tsze-kung said, "There is a beautiful gem here. Should I lay it up in a case and keep it? Or should I seek for a good price and sell it?"

The Master said, "Sell it! Sell it! But I would wait for one to offer the price."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Daily Tao - Gain Gain Gain

You want to be given wealth and material reward? Go to work.

You want to be fed by the infinite stream and have bliss in every moment? Give up doing.

Daily Tao is a reprint from Ta-Wan's blog, Daily Cup of Tao, which offers one post per day for an entire year. You also can read these posts in an ebook.

Two Moons

Scott Bradley

Yun-yen T'an-sheng (d. 841) was sweeping the ground when Reiyu (d. 853) came up and commented, "You are busily employed, are you not?" Yun-yen replied, "There is one who is not at all busily employed." To this Reiyu responded, "In that case you mean to say there is a second moon?" Yun-men then presented his broom and asked, "What number moon is this?"

Reiyu nodded and walked off. But when Hsuan-sha Shih-pei (834-908) heard the story, he said, "This is no other than a second moon!" (Transmission of the Lamp; Studies in Zen; Suzuki)

Before considering what all this bantering might specifically mean, it might be instructive to consider what this kind of bantering in general might mean. It reveals three Zen masters having fun with words. They are playfully probing one another's insight while irreverently bouncing a Zen metaphor back and forth to see how it might hold together. No one won; no one ever intended to do so. No truth was established; none was ever in the offing. The matters at stake might be as serious as death, but what's so serious about death? We do the mondo itself an injustice when we see it as other than they saw it themselves.

"Two moons" is Zen-speak for dualistic perception. There is only this one moon. The pursuit of another 'self' other than the one in pursuit would be to introduce a second moon. Another metaphor often used is that of adding a head, one upon the other. The experience to which Zen aspires is the integration of the totality of experience in this moment. It is being here now. It is not to be of two, or many, minds, but of single mind. When sitting, sit; when sweeping sweep. And yet, paradoxically, this is not a monadic, but an all-encompassing experience.

Thus, Yun-yen, had he given the 'correct' answer, would have agreed that he was busy. Instead, he threw a spanner in the works and apparently suggested that, though he was busy, there was another 'he' that was not. I could speculate on what he might have really meant (perhaps that nothing is really ever done), but the important thing is to realize he knew he was kicking the metaphor on down the road. This seems clear in his second response where he challenged Reiyu to give a number to the broom. He was declaring the metaphor intact, though he had only just carelessly broken it.

Suzuki, in his reply to the criticism of the historian Hu Shih, declared that both he and Hu were "descending into hell" by way of all their verbal sparring, yet he continued on because when transcendent you are free to participate in the mundane. When you know that words are not reality, you can use them to your heart's content. And turn them on their head when it suits you, too. The freedom to play is true freedom.

Then comes Hsuan-sha with his two cents: This is certainly two moons! Yes, indeed. And you make three! Ha, ha, ha. What do you say to a cup of tea?

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

3W 39

Go to the Awakened Masters - and leave all your baggage behind.
~ A selection from Ask The Awakened by Wei Wu Wei. Click here for more from this book. ~

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tao Bible - Jeremiah 18:8

If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.
~ King James version ~

Tao is beyond good and evil.
~ possible Taoist alternative ~
This is the second instance in the Book of Jeremiah in which we are told that God will/may repent of something. In order to repent, an entity must accept the definitions of good and evil because the act of repenting is to acknowledge wrongdoing or sin.

Tao has no need to repent because Tao is beyond good and evil. Tao represents -- for lack of a better description -- the laws and principles of nature. Good and evil are human concepts that merely try to understand the Way...that is beyond complete human comprehension.

If you're interested in reading more from this experimental series, go to the Tao Bible Index page.

Chapter 9, Part 11 - Confucius

The Master being very ill, Tsze-lu wished the disciples to act as ministers to him.

During a remission of his illness, he said, "Long has the conduct of Yu been deceitful! By pretending to have ministers when I have them not, whom should I impose upon? Should I impose upon Heaven?

"Moreover, than that I should die in the hands of ministers, is it not better that I should die in the hands of you, my disciples? And though I may not get a great burial, shall I die upon the road?"
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Circling the Wagons

Trey Smith

We're not on the edge of a slippery slope here. We're sliding down a precipice faster than you can say “Facebook killed privacy and I don't care”. We're all becoming viewed as potential terrorist suspects.

Is this because we are all potential terrorists? No, it’s because those in power understand that they have lost their legitimacy and recognize that the only way that they will be able to hold onto power it is through intimidation and fear. The 1% have never been able to earn power through just governance. The 99% always rebel eventually when the injustices and inequalities grow too great for their society to bear. And even though the elite always lose in the long run, they first resort to ratcheting up their police and military power and start treating their citizens like potential enemies.
~ from Vying for Detention: Two liberal Democratic Senators Give Us a Police State for Christmas by Dan DeWalt ~
The vast majority of Americans believe that our government genuinely wants to protect us from viable outside threats. If those threats turn into reality, the belief is that we will circle the wagons to afford the greatest protection of the citizenry as well as those sworn to protect us.

The imagery of "circling the wagons" comes to us via movies (and later, TV) from the 30s through the mid 60s. Civilians and/or the military would be moving across the Plains and vile savages -- the indigenous people on whose territory was being encroached upon -- would descend upon the wagon train with evil intent. To protect the most vulnerable (women, children and the sick or aged), the train would be halted and the wagons would be placed in a circle.

Those civilians with guns and/or soldiers would take up positions in or underneath the wagons. As wave upon wave of savages made forays toward the circle, our brave champions would pick them off one-by-one. The savages would become so demoralized by the uncanny accuracy of the protectors -- with guns that, historically, were anything but accurate -- that they would break off the attack and our champions would be feted as heroes.

This image has stuck with far too many Americans. What they don't realize is, that in the eyes of the elites, we aren't viewed as the vulnerable to be protected inside the circle. No, they view each of us as the savages to be shot at on the outside of the circle!

As the caption of a photo that accompanies the cited article states: "The new military authorization bill makes the US a "war zone" in the "war" on terror, and makes us all potential terrorists with no constitutional rights, while further blurring any distinction between cops and soldiers."

In other words, you and I have become the savages that the "champions" are preparing to pick off one-by-one and those that survive will be so demoralized that they will allow the elites to have anything they want without uttering as much as a whimper.