Dao is Ultimate Reality, which is to say, it is you. Every expression, however expressed is Dao. For this reason, we can say, “There are as many daos as there are feet to walk them.” From this perspective there is no Dao, only daos. Nothing is prescribed; there is no path tailor made for all, for each individual thing is unique, and every path is the realization of that uniqueness.
Can we not also say that, because every expression is Dao, there is no one without a path? I think we can. Are all paths of equal merit? They are and they aren’t. To judge between them we would need a standard, a rule, a principle. I have such a principle: That which leads to happiness is the path best chosen. Yet even the most miserable life is Dao and never deviated from Dao. Sorry about the suffering.
Socrates taught that sin is ignorance. Sin is that which harms us. No one sane would wish for harm. Therefore, if we sin, it is out of ignorance. We do not understand what is best for us. When we sin, it is because we have told ourselves it is good for us, even if that is understood as a purely momentary gratification.
So too, is it with our chosen paths. Most are chosen in ignorance, if they are chosen at all. What we think is best for us frequently turns out to the contrary. It turns out that most everything we have been taught and to which we readily agree harms us. What we have today in popular culture is a glorification of the egoic project: being someone, proving oneself, being worthy of envy, acquiring the most, achieving the most. Let’s call it the Great Ignorance.
Talk of personal happiness smacks of egoism, but it need not be so; we are individuated beings and we can bring nothing to the world that we do not already have in ourselves. The only peace we can bring to the world is that already realized in ourselves. Conversely, a path which harms others in the pursuit of happiness is one that harms ourselves. It is chosen in ignorance of what is best. A path which brings happiness to ourselves, brings happiness to others.
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