Saturday, March 31, 2012

Chapter 15, Part 26 - Confucius

The Master said, "Specious words confound virtue. Want of forbearance in small matters confounds great plans."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Whaddaya Mean?

Trey Smith

On a blog that deals with the questions of philosophy and the like, it is crucial that we understand what each other are saying. This is one of the blessings AND curses of words. While words generally have agreed upon meanings -- which help to facilitate better understanding -- these agreed upon meanings are not always consistent and seem to vary from person-to-person.

Take, for example, one word that gets tossed around on this blog from time to time: religion. What does it mean? It might surprise you to learn that most of the major online dictionaries for the English language define it slightly different.
Cambridge Dictionary
the belief in and worship of a god or gods, or any such system of belief and worship
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

The Free Dictionary
a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary
a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices

Oxford Dictionary
the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods
Only three of the five definitions indicate that worship is involved. Two definitions include a god or gods, two others talk of supernatural or superhuman entities and one makes no reference at all to an entity beyond humans. Only two definitions indicate that ritual or practice is involved. All five include the word, belief, but I think we can agree that not all beliefs are religious, in nature.

Since religion is one of those words that does not really have a definitive agreed upon meaning, we each can mean something different when we use it. This ambiguity could cause a problem, particularly if two or more individuals were debating whether or not there is a bona fide distinction between philosophical and religious Taoism!

The answer to such a question comes down to how each participant defines religion.

Afternoon Matinee: War Heroes Are Expendable, 7 of 7

Cast Off the Lines II

Scott Bradley

I get a chuckle out of a certain self-published book that is essentially an exhortation to sailors to cast off the lines. Just do it. This person did, in fact, do it; she left California for Mexico where she soon found another comfy marina and once again tied herself to the dock. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. Indeed, I confess that I have now essentially done the same, though unable to afford the marina, I only anchor nearby. There are obviously practical considerations which effect one's ability to 'cruise' extensively — money, health, family, preferences. And this is where this particular metaphor of casting off the lines breaks down.

Releasing into the void might also be likened to throwing a stone into the air; up it goes, momentarily free of earth, but alas, down it comes again. Similarly, our little forays into the mystical, however exhilarating, are likely to be short-lived. They are, nonetheless, worth the endeavor. But while the truism that "what goes up must come down" is relatively true, it is not absolutely so. There is something called 'escape velocity'. It is this to which those who value transcendence aspire.

We can tie ourselves up in discussions as to whether one should aspire to anything at all, no matter how 'noble', but in the end we aspire, even if it is to not aspire. To not aspire is a worthy aspiration, but one unlikely to be realized without aspiring to it. Yes, I enjoy playing with words, but word-play can serve to illuminate the absurdity of our attempts to neatly categorize reality. Life teaches us that there are no true contradictions; there are only things as they are.

So, though we might aspire to attain escape velocity, and recognize that only that is true transcendence, we are not deterred from throwing ourselves up in the air. Who knows, maybe one time we might not come back down.

There is another lesson in the story of this sailor who cast off the lines only to quickly re-tie them somewhere else. We may abandon one dogma in the name of freedom from dogma, but how quickly this simply becomes more dogma. This should not surprise us given that this is what we most ‘naturally’ do. It is no easy thing to remain unattached to opinion and belief. To do so, or at least to win moments wherein we have done so, we must frequently take a hard look at where we are presently moored. I have elsewhere called his “returning to critical zero”.

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

Line by Line - Verse 64, Line 3

that which is brittle is easily broken;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The brittle is easily shattered;
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

When it is fragile, it is easy to break
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

Fragile things break easily,
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
As John Lash sees it,
That which is not flexible is easily destroyed because it cannot yield and adapt. People with no flexibility of mind, soul, or body, are very fragile and easily crushed by diversity adversity.
And let's face it. We each face adversity in life. Some people must deal with loads of it, while others deal with a lesser amount. Not a one of us will escape it, though.

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

"Owning" History

Trey Smith

The great American selloff continues with cities and states selling parks, government buildings, and other sites (here and here and here and here and here) to raise money — as we continue spend billions in Iraq and Afghanistan where our allies have called us “demons” and sought to create governments that deny basic rights to citizens. Even national parks are being pushed on the chopping block. The latest such example is Baltimore which is preparing to selloff over a dozen historic sites.
~ from Baltimore Moves To Sell Off Historic Sites by Jonathan Turley ~
Nothing seems to be sacrosanct anymore! Almost everything in the world has become a commodity. Symbols of our shared history can now become someone's private possession. Parks, paid for and maintained by the public for 100 years or more, can now become private paradises. Seeds that have existed in the public commons for centuries can now be patented. Genes and portions of DNA from a wide variety of creatures and plants can be outright owned as well.

For those of you who defend capitalism as a moral economic model, please explain to me how the commodification of life benefits the public. And you better offer your opinions quickly BEFORE someone swoops in to patent, copyright or buy them too!

Chapter 15, Part 25 - Confucius

The Master said, "Even in my early days, a historiographer would leave a blank in his text, and he who had a horse would lend him to another to ride. Now, alas! there are no such things."
~ 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 - Treat the Dog as Yourself

Standing afar, the street dweller and the businessman are not so different.

Closer up the businessperson seems to have a more desirable situation.

Closer still the undesirable street person appears to have nothing to elevate this opinion.

Yet, as close as can be, beyond the mind, there is a similar self.

Moving back out from that self, into the life and mind of the street person and the businessman, it becomes clear why compassion should have no boundary. As the true state of being is seen, the internal wrangles and colour in this persons life make them now an interesting soul, with what is likely a savagely beaten down ego, and a resultantly larger spiritual heart.

As the businessman kicks at a dog who sniffs his trousers and the street guy calls the same dog over for a stroke and some water. I see I was right.

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.

Cast Off the Lines I

Scott Bradley

Cast off the lines
The great void awaits
A vast and empty sea.

I have been writing a lot of late about releasing into the vastness and this always brings to mind the sailboat tied to the dock by a web of lines. This is a potent metaphor for the human heart, bound as it is to the false comfort of imagined permanence. A great deal of the Daoist enterprise is to identify these lines so that we might be able to cast them off.

It is a well-worn adage that more boats and sailors come to grief in port than at sea. It is easy enough to see why this is so; boats that go to sea are generally prepared to do so, while those in port are more likely to be left to rot; and though crossing the bar may be dangerous, those on land are even more so. There is a certain prejudice with regards to sailboats that they should be sailing. This is natural enough considering the amount of effort and expense required to make them able to do so.

But can we say the same of human beings? Are they meant to cast off the lines and soar into the void? I don't think so. This is because I don't believe human beings are meant to do anything in particular. The invitation to cast off the lines is thus only for those who desire to do so. For most, the lines which tether also suffice to comfort. Still, the occasional day-sail can invigorate and inspire even those happily tethered.

In this metaphor of the boat secured to the dock, the dock might be understood to represent the 'fixed-identity'. This is the psychological state wherein we have taken possession of the life experience and imbued it with a sense of permanence. We believe ourselves to exist as discreet entities and our attachment to this entity, causes that we protect it from whatever might threaten it, whether with regard to its own self-importance or to the sting of death. This is entirely understandable given that we seem to have been cast into a void where we hunger for a permanence nowhere in evidence. Daoism suggests that, rather than looking for yet another dock to which to secure ourselves, we might embrace the void itself. However, this requires the abandonment of our most precious possession, the fixed, egoic self.

The 'lines' which Daoism identifies as attaching us to this false sense of permanence are well known. "Fame", "name", "gain", "debate", "dogma", "success", "conflict" — all these pursuits have but one end, to make us "someone", to reinforce the sense of a fixed identity. Those who feel inclined to experience unfixedness, are invited to consider how these lines are manifest in their own lives. This is largely an examination of motivations.

I suppose the next logical step in this essay is to discuss how these lines might actually be cast off. Were I able to give a definitive (and honest) answer, I would be a sage, which I am not. At best, I can only speak from my own limited successes, and these tell me that the examination of motivation is in itself an at least provisionally effective means. Understanding can be the beginning of transcendence.

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

Killer on the Loose

Trey Smith

A serial killer is a person who kills multiple people within a period of time----their motivation is often predicated on some sort of psychological gratification. And mass murderers usually murder multiple victims in the same place at the same time. This is often done by an individual, or more. These two profiles fit America and her various organs, almost perfectly.

Since the inception of this white settler state (America), it has worked hard to perfect its serial killing ways, especially when murdering people of color. Whether systematically instituting genocide on the Indigenous people of Turtle Island (North America) or killing tens of millions (conservatively) of enslaved Africans – it made no difference to the European barbarians that initiated the bloodbath. And in 2012 it makes no difference whether it is a 17 year old black boy from Florida, named Trayvon Martin, who was murdered in cold blood by a neighborhood “watchman”, or 16 Afghan civilians mass slaughtered by a member (and his accomplices) of the US military – America consumes lives with a voracious appetite. America has a particular taste for non-white lives. This country devours people of color.

America has never allowed its artificially manufactured (and stolen) borders to prevent it from initiating killing sprees. A simple look at the mass carnage caused by US military campaigns of aggression, the world over, will irrefutably highlight that fact. And when America kills its victims (men, women and children), it, like most serial killers, shows little or no remorse.
~ from America: A Global Serial Killer by Solomon Comissiong ~
Sad, but oh so true!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Tao Bible - Ezekiel 45:10-12

Ye shall have just balances, and a just ephah, and a just bath. The ephah and the bath shall be of one measure, that the bath may contain the tenth part of an homer, and the ephah the tenth part of an homer: the measure thereof shall be after the homer. And the shekel shall be twenty gerahs: twenty shekels, five and twenty shekels, fifteen shekels, shall be your maneh.
~ King James version ~

Tao is not an economist!
~ possible Taoist alternative ~
It simply boggles my mind regarding the minutiae of human life that God concerns himself with, yet he often appears absent concerning the big issues.

Economics is a human construct. It exists nowhere else in nature.

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

Chapter 15, Part 24 - Confucius

The Master said, "In my dealings with men, whose evil do I blame, whose goodness do I praise, beyond what is proper? If I do sometimes exceed in praise, there must be ground for it in my examination of the individual.

"This people supplied the ground why the three dynasties pursued the path of straightforwardness."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Today I Mourn

Scott Bradley

Yesterday I sent Trey two posts speaking to what amounts to the excommunication of one of our contributors. This term "excommunication" is a painful one to use with reference to the maintenance of the integrity this blog; it would seem to stand for exactly the opposite of what we hold dearest—acceptance and inclusion. Yet, I think it was necessary.

Such is life. Messy.

There is a passage in the Daodejing which tells us that a victorious army should mourn. The battle might have been necessary, because human beings daily seek to pillage one another, but that very necessity is the cause of our grief. To rejoice at victory is the negation of victory. The only true victory is that which humbles and shames us for our collective insanity.

This is really no different than argumentation and debate. There can be no winner unless all the participants are winners. How could this be possible? Our former contributor spoke of the value of things which go against the grain; things which challenge our most cherished inclinations. Here is just such a thing. Indeed, here we discover a nest of impulses that expose just what it is to be an insular and petty self. Daoism, whatever else it may be, is a philosophy which proposes a way of transcending this pettiness.

There is a story in the Zhuangzi in which a sage places two zithers in different rooms and tunes one string dissonant from the others, but when he plucks it, all the other strings resonate in harmony with it. "It was just a sound like all the rest," it concludes, "and yet it functioned as the lord of all tones." (Chap. 24; Ziporyn) It is this "lord of all tones" which we wish to embody. Yet it is “a sound like all the rest”. It is not a truth transcendent of others. It is not the "right view" which negates the right and wrong views of others. It is just another point of view. But it is an inclusive one. And it is one which is always self-critiquing and self-negating; ever it empties itself of the belief that it is other than just another point of view.

A debate in which everyone is a winner would be one in which opinions were understood to be of merely relative importance. What would be of greater importance? Might it not be an acknowledgement of that sacred uniqueness of each individual which transcends all judgment? Where is our foundation? Is not in a vastness without limits and boundaries, where all is included and nothing is lost? This is an idea, but it is about being transcendent of ideas.

Practically speaking, a debate in which all were winners would be one in which every idea was intended to assist and nurture the growth of every other idea. Its foundation would be one of inclusion, rather than conflict. It would be one whose appeal would be to mutual respect, not to the triumph of objective truth.

In as much as I have failed of this, I mourn. In that we have collectively failed of this, I mourn.

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

Afternoon Matinee: War Heroes Are Expendable, 6 of 7

Blurred Yet Unmuddied

Scott Bradley

After his appeal to the "one assertion" regarding the omnipresence of Dao described in the previous post, Zhuangzi becomes lost in his subject and exclaims what this means in his own experience: "Let's try doing nothing together, shall we? Flavorless and unmoving! Blurred yet unmuddied! Blended yet in-between! Having emptied my will, I have no destination, no idea where I am. Coming and going, I know not where I come to rest. I come and I go in it, never knowing where it all ends. Soaring through the vastness, the Great Understanding enters into me, never understanding where it is brought to a halt." (Zhuangzi, Chap. 20; Ziporyn)

It is unlikely that Zhuangzi actually said these things, of course. Nor is it likely that the one who put these words in his mouth experienced them to the extent we might wish to believe. It is more likely that he experienced intimations of them. In any case, we do not know; nor could we ever know what is entirely the subjective experience of another.

All we can do, like the author himself, is attempt to "soar through the vastness" and see how it feels. This is easily done. An act of imagination seems all that is required. What else is there really to do? What else do we need to know? There is lots to do and know, admittedly, but what are they but the preparation of the launch pad of imagination? Understanding only how this experience differs from the one we typically experience, and armed with the testimony of others, we set forth.

At best, we can probably only approximate the ideal state of mind set before us. Yet the experience is real, and it finds new expression in us.

I have shared the extensive quote above thinking it might inspire the imagination. It provides a model, but means little unless we launch.

I have chosen “Blurred yet unmuddied” as the title to this post because I think it speaks to the doubtful virtue of this experience for the observer, on the one hand, and the lack thereof for the one experiencing it, on the other. “Flavorless?” “No idea where I am?” Perhaps you have to experience it to understand how it liberates.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

Line by Line - Verse 64, Line 2

before a thing has given indications of its presence, it is easy to take measures against it;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

When it shows no signs, it is easy to plan
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

Trouble can be nipped in the bud.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
Most people I know -- including myself -- are expert procrastinators. We may see something slightly out of kilter, but we think to ourselves, "No big deal. I'll tend to that later." We put off dealing with the issue until it becomes a major tempest and then, because of its size and/or complexity, we find it cannot be dealt with so easily!

The lesson to be learned here is that it's better to deal with issues and situations BEFORE they blow up into problems.

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

Blessed, Blessed

Trey Smith

[Before I get to the thrust of this post, I want to point out that the recent questions and discussion concerning Baroness Radon's and my differing interpretations of some of the aspects of Taoism are not borne of any animosity. I value her opinions and perspectives -- probably even more than she knows -- but I don't always agree with them! That said, even in disagreement, she pushes me constantly to reexamine my own subjectivity, biases and prejudices. In my book, that's a very good thing!]

I have spent the past two or three days pondering this notion of the critical importance of understanding Chinese history and culture in order to fully comprehend the ancient Taoist texts. As I have pointed out previously, I do not disagree with the underlying premise -- my point of disagreement concerns how far to take this position.

From my perspective, there are many parts of the Tao Te Ching, for example, in which the sentiment or ideas presented are very straightforward.
The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
~ from Verse 1 ~
If I knew absolutely nothing about Chinese culture and history, I submit that I would still understand these two lines. There are many other such lines that state their point and intent in such a way that the average person can "get it" on a first or second reading.

On the other side of the ledger, there are parts of the TTC that come across as far more cryptic without a basic understanding of Chinese culture and history.
Heaven and Earth are impartial;
They see the ten thousand things as straw dogs.
The wise are impartial;
They see the people as straw dogs.
~ from Verse 5 ~
When I first read this years ago, I'll admit that I asked myself, "What in the hell is a straw dog?" It wasn't until I did some research on the term that this verse made a lot more sense to me!

By offering these two examples, I'm trying to show that I get the point the Baroness has brought up again and again. When a person more acutely understands the Chinese worldview, their understanding of these ancient texts can only deepen. But this doesn't mean that, devoid of a full comprehension of the Chinese worldview, an individual can get nothing from books like the Tao Te Ching.

Let's look at a different belief system: Christianity. Most adherents do not possess an intimate knowledge of 1st Century Jewish history and culture. In the various discussions I've had over the years, few people understand the concept of midrash and how it impacts the various stories told in the New Testament. Despite this general lack of knowledge of most things Jewish, the majority of Christians understand the basic ideas laid out in the Sermon on the Mount.

Would knowledge about 1st Century Jewish culture deepen their understanding of the words and stories about Jesus and his disciples? Of course they would. Yet, lacking this knowledge does not mean that the Sermon on the Mount has no value for them.

In both examples shown above, we're talking about degrees of comprehension. The more knowledgeable a person is about the cultural milieu that gave birth to these ancient texts, the deeper the level of a person's understanding.

I get that point and I don't dispute it. But to suggest that without this intimate knowledge of history and culture a person can't understand much of anything of value seems to me like a bridge too far.

Chapter 15, Part 23 - Confucius

Tsze-kung asked, saying, "Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one's life?" The Master said, "Is not Reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others."
~ 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 - Greed

Greed is infinitely empty. Unfulfillable.

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.

The One Assertion

Scott Bradley

In a well-known passage in the Zhuangzi the author has someone question Zhuangzi about where Dao might be found. His answer, "There is nowhere it is not", does not satisfy the inquirer; surely there must be some distinctions between things, some being more noble than others? It is not until Zhuangzi declares Dao to be in "piss and shit" that his interlocutor is silenced. Personally, I would dispense with the preposition "in" — Dao is piss and shit — and instead of "nowhere", I would say, "There is nothing it is not". But I suppose that in the general context of Daoist thought, it amounts to the same thing.

Zhuangzi then presents the one great Daoist assumption, that there is one underlying ground of all things about which we can have no definitive understanding. "'The Ubiquitous', 'The All-Pervasive', 'The Omnipresent'—these are three terms with the same meaning. They all point to the same thing. Let us try to wander together in the palace of not-even-anything, merging it together in one single assertion that is nowhere brought to a halt! Let's try doing nothing together, shall we?" (Zhuangzi, Chap. 22; Ziporyn)

Always statements about Dao call for a human response; never is the discussion academic. The "one single assertion that is nowhere brought to a halt" where there is not-even-anything is an acknowledgment that despite being everywhere and everything, Dao is unspeakably beyond place and thing. Our only recourse, should we wish our lives to be informed by Dao, is to wander in that which the understanding consciousness cannot know.

Wandering is Zhuangzi's favorite metaphor for a life lived internally severed from every explanation of things and every conventional value intended to provide meaning and purpose. There is only wandering. Yet we walk Two Roads. Because our minds are free of clinging to foundationless values we are able to live those values more truly. It is no great stretch to imagine how we might better love and care for others when these qualities are no longer means to self-interested ends.

Philosophical Daoism is unapologetically mystical. It invites an experiential journey beyond knowing. If there is an apparent contradiction between its eschewal of all 'knowing' on the one hand, and its mysticism on the other, this is largely resolved in the concept of wandering. One wanders because he knows no place to go in a medium without definition. Philosophical Daoism is mysticism without a metaphysics. Thus can the one assertion never be “brought to a halt”. And thus can we wander together. If we can agree to the ground of unknowable Oneness, every disagreement is of no real importance.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tao Bible - Ezekiel 44:18

They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat.
~ King James version ~

Tao is not a fashion coordinator!
~ possible Taoist alternative ~
Here's something I don't get. God has the interest and time to send out dictates about what certain people should wear in the performance of their official duties to serve him, but seemingly not the interest or time to end poverty, war or violence.

I can't remember a line in which Lao Tzu or Zhuangzi dictated from Tao what people should wear for any occasion!

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

Chapter 15, Part 22 - Confucius

The Master said, "The superior man does not promote a man simply on account of his words, nor does he put aside good words because of the man."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Facts, Shmacts

Trey Smith

It's the political cure-all for high gas prices: Drill here, drill now. But more U.S. drilling has not changed how deeply the gas pump drills into your wallet, math and history show.

A statistical analysis of 36 years of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production by The Associated Press shows no statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump.

If more domestic oil drilling worked as politicians say, you'd now be paying about $2 a gallon for gasoline. Instead, you're paying the highest prices ever for March.

Political rhetoric about the blame over gas prices and the power to change them — whether Republican claims now or Democrats' charges four years ago — is not supported by cold, hard figures. And that's especially true about oil drilling in the U.S. More oil production in the United States does not mean consistently lower prices at the pump.

Sometimes prices increase as American drilling ramps up. That's what has happened in the past three years. Since February 2009, U.S. oil production has increased 15 percent when seasonally adjusted. Prices in those three years went from $2.07 per gallon to $3.58. It was a case of drilling more and paying much more.
~ from More Drilling Doesn't Drop Gas Prices via the Associated Press ~
You know, this doesn't happen all that often. For the most part, the mainstream media has turned into a flock of parrots. Politicians and other so-called "important people" talk and the media repeats it!

It simply is nice to see that someone in the media decided to check the veracity of these claims that domestic oil production and consumer gas prices are joined at the hip. As the snippet shows, it ain't nothing of the sort! More importantly, note the last paragraph shown above.

Maybe someone should share this study with Newt Gingrich!

Afternoon Matinee: War Heroes Are Expendable, 5 of 7

Some Harmony II

Scott Bradley

Some of the content of the posts which precipitated conflict on this blog were decidedly negative and confrontational. But this was not necessarily what rendered them disharmonious. There is a place for both negation and confrontation. It is the spirit that inspires them that determines their appropriateness on a blog which values harmony. There are no doubt plenty of blogs where disharmony is appropriate, though I would not wish to participate in them.

Ancient Zen masters provide us with ample demonstrations of how negation and confrontation can be a useful and appropriate tool in leading others to harmony. We call them appropriate because of their context and the spirit in which they are executed. The context is that they are exercised by the presumably harmonious for the benefit of those who have acknowledged them as such and who have entrusted themselves to their instruction. Did the martial arts grow in parallel with monastic life because Zen masters and their disciples went about indiscriminately slapping, hitting and yelling at people in the street? In such a circumstance they would require such skills. But no, this was not the case. Their extremely confrontational upaya were reserved for those who invited it.

But even more important than context is the spirit in which confrontation is expressed. The motivational root of the actions is paramount. But this is more than the motivation of wanting to fix a problem. It is not simply a question of ends and means. Slapping a child because she has misbehaved (slapped another child?), may at some level be properly motivated, but the means betray the end.

In a yet to be published post I quote from the Zhuangzi: "Anger comes forth from him without himself being angry, so his anger is an expression of his nonanger." (Chap. 23; Ziporyn) Such a person is rare indeed. Who can be angry without that anger being rooted in his own anger? I am angry at the abusive police, but I know that anger is rooted in more than their misbehavior; it has roots in my own anger. So, though my anger may be motivated by a desire to stop an injustice, it is the kind of anger which only breeds more anger and injustice. The Zen masters were able to use disharmony to instruct their disciples because it issued from their own harmony and was conducive of harmony.

Admittedly, a judgment has been made; certain posts were determined to be disharmonious in such a way as to have issued from disharmony. How do we know this? It is possible to enumerate reasons, but I think it unnecessary. Those who read them know. The one who writes them apparently does not. This is unfortunate and, quite frankly, saddening. In the end, should evidence be required, we might simply look at the end result, disharmony.

In the course of the discussion it was suggested that this blog wasn't the place for a particular contributor. He seemingly took this as meaning we cannot accept differing opinions. This is not the case. What is the case, is that unbending belligerence is here not an acceptable way to present them. I say "unbending" because though we all fall short of our aspirations to harmony, we generally acknowledge the fact. This is our harmony. When disharmony becomes an enshrined value, however, no such rectifying acknowledgement seems possible.

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

Line by Line - Verse 64, Line 1

That which is at rest is easily kept hold of;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Peace is easily maintained;
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

When it is peaceful, it is easy to maintain
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

It's easy to maintain balance.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
When our minds are calm, it is far easier to size up a situation or to make careful plans. We can sit back to examine the various factors and variables in an almost dispassionate manner.

Try doing the same thing when our minds are anything but calm. Thoughts rampage through our head at breakneck speed. Our pulse quickens and feelings of unchecked anxiety may take hold. We are prone to miss factors and variables staring us straight in the face. Decisions rendered under these conditions frequently are not as well thought out as they are when the mind is calm. (I should know!)

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

Something Like That

Trey Smith

When asked to provide my personal definition for the undefinable Tao, I have my good days and bad days. There are times when I can rip off two or three somewhat cogent paragraphs. At other times, when I'm feeling less articulate, I struggle to put together even a few cogent words, let alone a whole sentence! When that happens, people ask me how I can a subscribe to a philosophy if I can't muster a definition of the main concept.

In the future, if I ever find myself tongue-tied, I think I could easily fall back on the following description from Eva Wong's The Shambhala Guide to Taoism:
Although the Tao is the source of all life, it is not a deity or spirit...In the Tao-te ching, the sky, the earth, rivers, and mountains are part of a larger and unified power, known as Tao, which is an impersonal and unnamed force behind the workings of the universe.
About the only word in the foregoing description that I might change is force. In some ways, a force is still a specific something, a distinct entity of unknown size and parameters. The word I personally would replace it with is process. In my mind's eye, Tao is the name we give for the process of the workings of the universe.

Chapter 15, Part 21 - Confucius

The Master said, "The superior man is dignified, but does not wrangle. He is sociable, but not a partisan."
~ 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 - Gold

Those with a little, yet enough, are content.

Rich rarely so.

Wealth does not buy freedom from attachment.

And true riches are immaterial.


See this graph.

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.

Some Harmony I

Scott Bradley

Having no regular internet access, I am unable to get involved in the debates that take place here, or to immediately respond to questions directed my way. This has its advantages as well as disadvantages. With reference to some of the unpleasantness of some recent discussions, this has probably been a case of the former. This is in part because I seem to be part of the discussion. Nevertheless, I would like to weigh in now that the dust has settled.

This blog is a particular thing. As such, it has its parameters. I understand it as being about Daoism and the ramifications of Daoist philosophy. This is its content. There is also a qualitative component which that content would seem to require; if it is about Daoism, it should attempt to exemplify Daoist principles.

Since this blog is a lot of words, it seems to me that one Daoist principle which should most certainly be in evidence is harmony. Harmony is not agreement; disagreement may very well be a necessary component of harmony. Harmony is that spirit which unites the otherwise disharmonious. This spirit might also be described as openness. And openness issues from a particular way of viewing the world and the totality of our experience in it. Openness issues from Vastness, the experience of limitless and bottomless Reality. This understanding, this experience, is such that all ideas become "peculiarly unfixed". Whatever points of view we might embrace, we understand them to be provisional upaya, skillful means, fish traps of no consequence once we have the fish. This applies to my point of view, as well as yours. And because they are all provisional, they are all 'acceptable'.

This, I believe, is the Daoist point of view and the point of view, at least in part, of this blog. As such, we endeavor to have its content be expressed in this spirit. The blog is meant to be an expression of harmony. Our differing opinions make this harmony possible.

"Show me some harmony" is a challenge which has been oft repeated on the blog. And Trey has rightfully responded that this is it. The spirit represented on this blog is that harmony. Ostensibly, we do not know each other otherwise. Now, it may be that he who demands to see harmony in action has previously known me, and believes me to live disharmoniously. I am not interested in disputing this judgment. In any case, this blog is a place to grow in harmony.

It may seem like a small thing to express harmony in words, words being considered so divorced from reality. But one must begin somewhere. Yet, is not the disharmonious spirit of such a demand — this demand that we show our harmony somewhere other than in words — a demonstration of how difficult it is to show it in words?

I have leapt over a step in my argument, because it is the one I least wish to make. But I must. This challenge and many more like it do not, in my opinion, evince a spirit of harmony. They require that someone be wrong. They are confrontational. They seem angry. For this reason, Trey has stepped in to preserve the harmony of the blog.

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

The Bogeyman

Trey Smith

There is something disturbing in the nature of post 9/11 public discourse. Incessantly, on a daily basis, Al Qaeda is referred to by the Western media, government officials, members of the US Congress, Wall Street analysts, etc. as an underlying cause of numerous World events. Occurences of a significant political, social or strategic nature --including the US presidential elections campaign-- are routinely categorized by referring to Al Qaeda, the alleged architect of the September 11 2001 attacks.

What is striking is the extent of media coverage of "Al Qaeda related events", not to mention the mountains of op eds and authoritative "analysis" pertaining to "terror events" in different part of the World.

Routine mention of Al Qaeda "fanatics", "jihadists", etc. has become --from a news standpoint-- trendy and fashionable. A Worldwide ritual of authoritative media reporting has unfolded. At the time of writing (March 24, 2012), "Al Qaeda events" had 183 million entries on Google and 18,200 news entries.

A panoply of Al Qaeda related events and circumstances is presented to public opinion on a daily basis. These include terrorist threats, warnings and attacks, police investigations, insurgencies and counter-insurgencies, country-level regime change, social conflict, sectarian violence, racism, religious divisions, Islamic thought, Western values, etc.

In turn, Al Qaeda - War on Terrorism rhetoric permeates political discourse at all levels of government, including bipartisan debate on Capitol Hill, in committees of the House and the Senate, at the British House of Commons, and, lest we forget, at the United Nations Security Council.

All of these complex Al Qaeda related occurrences are explained --by politicians, the corporate media, Hollywood and the Washington think tanks under a single blanket "bad guys" heading, in which Al Qaeda is casually and repeatedly pinpointed as "the cause" of numerous terror events around the World.

How does the daily bombardment of Al Qaeda related concepts and images, funnelled into the Western news chain and on network TV, affect the human mindset?

Al Qaeda concepts, repeated ad nauseam have potentially traumatic impacts on the human mind and the ability of normal human beings to analyze and comprehend the "real outside World" of war, politics and the economic crisis.

What is at stake is human consciousness and comprehension based on concepts and facts.

With Al Qaeda, however, there are no verifiable "facts" and "concepts", because Al Qaeda has evolved into a media mythology, a legend, an invented ideological construct, used as an unsubtle tool of media disinformation and war propaganda.

Al Qaeda constitutes a stylized, fake and almost folkloric abstraction of terrorism, which permeates the inner consciousness of millions of people around the World.

Reference to Al Qaeda has become a dogma, a belief, which most people espouse unconditionally.

Is this political indoctrination? Is it brain-washing? If so what is the underlying objective?

People's capacity to independently analyse World events, as well as address causal relationships pertaining to politics and society, is significantly impaired. That is the objective!
~ from Al Qaeda and Human Consciousness: Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda.... An Incessant and Repetitive Public Discourse, Part I by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky ~
What's even worse is that we literally created this bogeyman. We brought them together and trained them to oppose Russia during their own Afghan misadventure.

What I find most interesting is how we are periodically told that we've crippled Al Qaeda, only to have it surface again as THE threat to world stability weeks later. Here we have this supposedly rag-tag group of revolutionaries and yet, despite the fact the US and her allies spends trillions of dollars each year trying to wipe it out, it has become a monster we can't kill. Supposedly, we shoot, bomb, poison and burn it, yet, like a monster in a B movie, it keeps rising back up to hunt down hapless humans who are powerless to stop it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chapter 15, Part 20 - Confucius

The Master said, "What the superior man seeks, is in himself. What the mean man seeks, is in others."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

Missouri, Not China

Trey Smith

I was born in Missouri. I have lived my entire life within the bounds of the continental United States. With one 2 or 3 hour exception, I have not set foot outside of our national borders.

I mention these facts because of an ongoing discussion that the Baroness and I have been having in this space. It is her perspective that a person should (must?) have a clear understanding of the Chinese worldview in order really to "get" Taoism. I have granted that she makes an excellent point -- and I sincerely thank her for pushing me to expand my horizons -- but, where I quibble a tad is that I think the position she has staked out is too extreme.

This is not to say that I disagree with her central premise. Without possessing a better understanding of Chinese history and culture, one could easily misunderstand much of the Taoist philosophy. Consequently, I have taken up her respectful challenge to better educate myself in this regard.

And yet, no matter how much I study, I will not become Chinese! I think the chances are about nil that I will ever see life completely through Chinese eyes. I think the reason is patently obvious. I am an American and my life experiences are tied to where I live.

So, does this mean that my embracing of the Taoist philosophy is less authentic?

Sometimes -- and I know she will correct me if I'm incorrect -- it seems as if the Baroness might suggest just that. She has stated on record here that she finds "no serious worth in popular western Daoism." It would seem that we western Taoists are being penalized for not being Chinese!

If we look at almost every religious or philosophic belief system, they tend to change somewhat as they cross borders. Buddhism, for example, originated in India and it took a while before it migrated to China, Japan and beyond. When the Indian version took hold in China, it changed because the Chinese people had somewhat different life experiences and culture than their Indian counterparts. When it moved to Japan, it again changed a bit for the very same reasons.

Look at Christianity. It takes on a multitude of forms and some of the differences are based upon geography and culture.

My point here is that, while I agree with the Baroness that a better understanding of the Chinese worldview is of importance really to grasp the central concepts of Taoist thought, a westernized version of Taoism shouldn't be construed as any less authentic.

Will it be the same as Chinese Taoism? No, it won't. But no one would expect it to be exactly the same anyway.

Afternoon Matinee: War Heroes Are Expendable, 4 of 7

Will It Die?

Trey Smith

The US Supreme Court has a chance to do the people of America a big favor, perhaps atoning at last for its shameful betrayal of the electoral system in 2000 when a conservative majority stole the Florida, and national election, for George W. Bush, and for the liberal-led and equally shameful betrayal of fundamental property rights in the Kelo v New London case that, in 2005, upheld the public theft of private homes in Connecticut on behalf of a government-backed resort development. The court can atone for these betrayals by declaring the ramshackle, corrupt, hugely expensive and cynically misnamed Affordable Care Act to be unconstitutional.

The act, pushed through a Democratic Congress by President Obama in 2010, is a disaster, a cobbled-together set of measures that was fatally corrupted by the insurance lobby and other parts of the nation’s medical-industrial complex, which leaves millions uninsured, continues to tether workers to their employers like indentured servants, and undermines the Medicare program, which should be the cornerstone of a real health reform.

By killing this monstrosity of political expedience and lobbyist strong-arming, the Supreme Court’s conservative wing could give us a good chance to finally move the country to a real national health reform which would reduce costs substantially, provide quality health care to all, and finally drive a stake through the heart of the health insurance industry, the real “vampire squid” of American capitalism which has been sucking money out of American’s wallets and driving many into bankruptcy for decades (family health crises are the major single cause of bankruptcies and homes foreclosures in the country).

How can it be a good thing to kill a program that at least eliminates things like the denial of insurance coverage because of “pre-existing conditions,” or the throwing people off of coverage when they get seriously sick?

Because these reforms have come at the cost of keeping the insurance industry central to the whole health financing process, when all it is in reality is a blood-sucking middleman that makes its money by figuring out ways to deny care to those it is supposedly “covering.”

By killing the whole “Obamacare” law, the court will throw the system back into crisis mode, forcing the public and the political system to finally consider the only real answer: expansion of the Medicare program to cover everyone.
~ from Finally Getting it Right? Here’s Hoping the Supreme Court Tosses Out ‘Obamacare’ by Dave Lindorff ~
As you can see from the above snippet, Lindorff takes an unpopular position for a progressive. We've been told that, while Obamacare is far from perfect, everyone to the left-of-center should support and defend it, nonetheless. Obviously, Lindorff ignored the memo!

I share Lindorff's piece because I agree with him. I hope the court provides the last rites for this horrid piece of legislation. I'm not suggesting that there is nothing in the plan that is laudable; in my mind, the giant negative outweighs the few positives.

And that big negative is that Obama's plan does NOTHING to rein in costs. Even worse, the individual mandate is sort of, kind of like a backdoor bailout to the health insurance industry. It forces the citizenry to hand over infusions of cash for degraded services that will continue to rise year after year. What a step forward!

I know that, in the plan's defense, supporters point to the fact that the mandate is constitutional because the government requires folks to purchase auto insurance and that mandate has been upheld in the courts. However, I don't find this argument convincing at all. Driving an automobile is a privilege. Though it may cause some inconveniences, a person doesn't have to drive themselves in order to survive.

Basic health is a right. Not having access to health care is far from a mere inconvenience -- it can be an early and unneeded death sentence. For me, that's why comparing auto insurance to health insurance is like comparing apples to ping pong balls.

Line by Line - Verse 63, Lines 14-15

Therefore the sage sees difficulty even in what seems easy, and so never has any difficulties.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Because the sage always confronts difficulties,
He never experiences them.

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

Therefore, sages regard things as difficult
So they never encounter difficulties all through life

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

The Masters are always aware of the difficulties involved,
which is why they never have to deal with them.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
In an odd sort of way, these lines describe how I prepare for the future. As an autistic bloke who doesn't deal well with surprises, when considering possible outcomes to almost anything, I run through ever possible result I can think of. Put another, I always prepare myself for the worst!

It is by experiencing the emotions of negative outcomes beforehand that I am better able to deal with them IF they come to pass. Needless to say, if those outcomes aren't as negative as I anticipated they might be, then I have stressed out myself over nothing!!

Consequently, I am certainly NOT suggesting that my method is what the passage here refers to...but it's in the ballpark. Sort of. ;-)

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

It Ain't Just Me

Trey Smith

Let me say from the very beginning that we at Black Agenda Report do not think that Barack Obama is the Lesser Evil. He is the more Effective Evil.

He has been more effective in Evil-Doing than Bush in terms of protecting the citadels of corporate power, and advancing the imperial agenda. He has put both Wall Street and U.S. imperial power on new and more aggressive tracks – just as he hired himself out to do.

That was always Wall Street’s expectation of Obama, and his promise to them. That’s why they gave him far more money in 2008 than they gave John McCain. They were buying Obama futures on the electoral political market – and they made out like bandits.

They invested in Obama to protect them from harm, as a hedge against the risk of systemic disaster caused by their own predations. And, it was a good bet, a good deal. It paid out in the tens of trillions of dollars.

If you believe that what Wall Street does is Evil, then Obama’s service to Wall Street is Evil, and there is nothing lesser about it.

They had vetted Obama, thoroughly, before he even set foot in the U.S. Senate in 2004.

He protected their interests, there, helping shield corporations from class action suits, and voting against caps on credit card Interest. He was their guy back then – and some of us were saying so, back then.

He was the bankers’ guy in the Democratic presidential primary race. Among the last three standing in 2008, it was Obama who opposed any moratorium on home foreclosures. John Edwards supported a mandatory moratorium and Hillary Clinton said she wanted a voluntary halt to foreclosures. But Barack Obama opposed any moratorium. Let it run its course, said candidate Obama. And, true to his word, he has let the foreclosures run their catastrophic course.

Only a few months later, when the crunch came and Finance Capital was in meltdown, who rescued Wall Street? Not George Bush. Bush tried, but he was spent, discredited, ineffective. Not John McCain. He was in a coma, coming unglued, totally ineffective.

Bush’s bailout failed on a Monday. By Friday, Obama had convinced enough Democrats in opposition to roll over – and the bailout passed, setting the stage for a new dispensation between the American State and Wall Street, in which a permanent pipeline of tens of trillions of dollars would flow directly into Wall Street accounts, via the Federal Reserve.

And Obama had not even been elected yet.
~ from Why Barack Obama is the More Effective Evil by Glen Ford ~
Yes, this is a longer snippet than I typically share, but I want you all to see that I'm not alone in my criticism of the president from the Left.

On TV, I keep hearing on the liberal talk shows that folks like me simply don't appreciate all that Obama has accomplished since rising to the top spot. It's not that I don't think the guy has done nothing positive for the nation as a whole. It's more that he has done so little for the 99 percent and so much for the 1 percent.

On issue after issue, he doesn't represent the kind of leader I think this nation so desperately needs. His policies don't represent the kind of nation I envision. And, we're told, that he's the liberal choice!

If that's true, then it tells me only one thing: Liberalism is dead.

Chapter 15, Part 19 - Confucius

The Master said, "The superior man dislikes the thought of his name not being mentioned after his death."
~ 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 - Conflict

When desire opposes the situation then conflict appears.

When conflict comes and you feel the need to act, it is better to draw to the root and use your infinite being to neutralize the situation. Allow it to pass.

As reacting just passes the event on to another, perhaps to many, you'd be better to be wise and strong here, than depend on another to neutralize it later.

The only thing you can alter about the world is your attitude towards it.

The only thing you can change is the way you see it.

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.

The Only Rule

Scott Bradley

The author of the twentieth chapter of the Zhuangzi tells a story about Zhuangzi in which he declares the uselessness of a tree as the reason it has been able to live so long. That evening he stays with a friend who has his servant kill a goose for dinner. When asked which goose to kill, the host says to kill the one that does not honk, the one which is useless as a watch-goose.

This leads Zhuangzi's disciple to ask which path to pursue, uselessness or usefulness, since uselessness led in on instance to long life and in another to swift death. What sure principle can we follow to avoid harmful entanglements?

Zhuangzi's answer is that the only rule to follow, the one followed by the sage-kings, is "to float and drift long, mounted only on the Course (Dao) and its Virtuosity (te) — untouched by both praise and blame, now a dragon, now a snake, changing with the times, unwilling to keep to any exclusive course of action...with momentary harmony as your only measure ..." (Zhuangzi, Chap. 20; Ziporyn)

Daoism is in sharp contrast with any way which prescribes fixed principles which determine how we should respond to the events of life. We might say that the realization of “momentary harmony” in each situation is such a principle, but since the event, response and harmonic form in each case is entirely unpredictable, it can tell us little about how to behave.

One thing is clear; that behavior will not be determined by the external, the opinions of others. The sage does not seek praise, nor does he fear blame; his tranquility is entirely independent of moral judgment, applied either by himself or others. “Now a dragon, now a snake”, now thought supremely wise, now thought the lowly enemy of humanity; it does not matter. This, Zhuangzi tells us, is the non-dependence required for “far and unfettered wandering”.

“What could then entangle you?” he concludes. The real point is not whether one can avoid the axe or not, but whether in either case one’s peace remains intact.

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chapter 15, Part 18 - Confucius

The Master said, "The superior man is distressed by his want of ability. He is not distressed by men's not knowing him."
~ James Legge translation via The Internet Classics Archive ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Analects of Confucius.

An Aha Moment

Trey Smith

As I've mentioned before, in one way I have become my mother! I have gotten to where I read several books simultaneously. (Not at the same time, of course. That would be hard!) I'll read a few chapters or pages of one book and then a chapter or a few pages of another one.

Since my overall knowledge of the history of Taoism is a bit lacking, I recently picked up The Shambhala Guide to Taoism by Eva Wong. As I was reading the section of Chapter Two entitled, "Classical Taoism in the Spring and Autumn Period: Lao-tzu and the Tao-te-ching," I had an aha moment that wasn't directly related to what I was reading.

My aha moment concerns the philosophical/religious distinction in Taoism that Baroness Radon argues doesn't actually exist. While I am coming to understand that the Baroness most likely is correct in one sense, I have had trouble trying to explain why I believe the distinction is valid in another sense. And that's when it hit me: Most, if not all, of the religious figures we venerate today were philosophers when they walked the earth.

For example, Jesus was not a Christian; he was a Jewish philosopher. In time, as people reflected upon his life and teachings, a religion was born out of this reflection. An organizational structure was created and an institution was developed.

The same can be said of Lao Tzu and Zhuangzi. Neither of them was a Taoist (a term coined long after their deaths); each was a Chinese philosopher. As with Jesus, people began to reflect on their teachings and a religious belief system slowly coalesced around their central ideas.

As part of this process of religion creation, these human beings were transformed into something akin to deities. They couldn't have been birthed from normal circumstances, so myths were created to show their extraordinary kinship with the heavens. Magical powers were added to the mix and their death stories confirmed that they reached a state that a mere mortal could not attain.

So, it can be argued that those of us who focus solely on the teachings of these Masters -- not the myth creation that occurred after their deaths -- are attuned to their philosophy. This is why I refer to myself as a philosophical Taoist. I focus on the philosophers and their words, not the other stuff that was conjured up after the fact.

Wong herself adds to this point later in Chapter 2, when she writes,
In shedding the shamanic world of diverse spirits and retaining the personal power of the shaman, the Tao-te ching represents a transition from shamanic beliefs to a philosophical system with a unified view of the nature of reality (the Tao), the sage, and the cultivation of life. (emphasis added)

Afternoon Matinee: War Heroes Are Expendable, 3 of 7

Buddy, Can You Spare...A Jail Cell?

Trey Smith

What would you do if you came across someone on the street who had not had anything to eat for several days? Would you give that person some food? Well, the next time you get that impulse you might want to check if it is still legal to feed the homeless where you live.

Sadly, feeding the homeless has been banned in major cities all over America. Other cities that have not banned it outright have put so many requirements on those who want to feed the homeless (acquiring expensive permits, taking food preparation courses, etc.) that feeding the homeless has become "out of reach" for most average people. Some cities are doing these things because they are concerned about the "health risks" of the food being distributed by ordinary "do-gooders." Other cities are passing these laws because they do not want homeless people congregating in city centers where they know that they will be fed. But at a time when poverty and government dependence are soaring to unprecedented levels, is it really a good idea to ban people from helping those who are hurting?
~ from Feeding The Homeless BANNED In Major Cities All Over America from OpEd News ~
Over the past decade or so, many communities have acted like homelessness itself is a crime by regularly rounding up the homeless to cart them off to jail. Now, as this article points out, those do-gooders who try to help them may now find themselves sharing the same cell!

Can you believe this? It's absolutely crazy. Why on earth would we criminalize being a good Samaritan?

Sadly, it's because most of our leaders don't want to be reminded of the fact that the policies they support often LEAD TO homelessness. If people feed large groups, then the homeless are there for all to see. That goes against mainstream sensibilities. We want the homeless out of sight and out of mind!