Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tao Bible - Matthew 10:1

And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
~ King James version ~

The sage has no mind of his own.
He is aware of the needs of others.
~ from Verse 49 of the Tao Te Ching ~
For me, both snippets are about the importance of compassion. When we genuinely pay attention to life around us, we consider the needs of others as being as important, if not more so, than our own. Recognizing the barriers in satisfying these needs, we do what we can to help alleviate or eliminate the hurdles.

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

Mencius - Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 4C

'"Now, the state of things is different. A host marches in attendance on the ruler, and stores of provisions are consumed. The hungry are deprived of their food, and there is no rest for those who are called to toil. Maledictions are uttered by one to another with eyes askance, and the people proceed to the commission of wickedness. Thus the royal ordinances are violated, and the people are oppressed, and the supplies of food and drink flow away like water. The rulers yield themselves to the current, or they urge their way against it; they are wild; they are utterly lost: these things proceed to the grief of the inferior princes.

'"Descending along with the current, and forgetting to return, is what I call yielding to it. Pressing up against it, and forgetting to return, is what I call urging their way against it. Pursuing the chase without satiety is what I call being wild. Delighting in wine without satiety is what I call being lost.

'"The ancient sovereigns had no pleasures to which they gave themselves as on the flowing stream; no doings which might be so characterized as wild and lost.

'"It is for you, my prince, to pursue your course."'

'The duke Ching was pleased. He issued a proclamation throughout his State, and went out and occupied a shed in the borders. From that time he began to open his granaries to supply the wants of the people, and calling the Grand music-master, he said to him "Make for me music to suit a prince and his minister pleased with each other." And it was then that the Chî-shâo and Chio-shâo were made, in the words to which it was said, "Is it a fault to restrain one's prince?" He who restrains his prince loves his prince.'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Derivations on a Theme -- Dying To Know

Trey Smith

Here I am, alive. I'm a human being who can envision his own death. I enjoy life, but it's slipping away by the day, the hour, the minute, the second. I'm 63 fucking years old! My lifelong experiencing of one-thing-after-the-other is going to come to an abrupt halt with a final thing: the instant of my death. After that... nothing. Not even the awareness of nothing.

After waking up this morning, I felt pretty much normal again. Aware of death, of course, yet immersed in the living of life. Thankfully. But the primal fear I'd experienced last night was still lingering closer to the surface of my consciousness than it usually is.
~ from Uncertainty: the key to dealing with death and non-existence by Blogger Brian at Church of the Churchless ~
So much of our lives is basted in the juice of uncertainty! We desperately want to know unequivocally what comes next, be we know intuitively that there is no way TO know. We may latch onto myths and legends that seek to provide the certainty that inherently is lacking, but this only calms our surface consciousness. Down deep, the puzzle remains as intractable as ever.

As we grow old, it's hard not to contemplate our own death. Based on the history of everything around us, we are fairly certain that death will come knocking on our door. But even here, we can't be 100% certain! What we call death may turn out to be something akin to awakening from a dream. Maybe none of us was ever alive in the first place!

While we humans like to think we are each different and unique, there is one tie that binds us all together in a disjointed mass or blob: The desire for some modicum of certainty in an existence that provides none. It doesn't matter where we were born, the color of our skin, our religious or lack of religious beliefs, or whether we are poor or rich. None of this matters.

Every single one of us fears this thing we call death because, after all is said and done, none of us has the foggiest notion what it does or does not entail. We tremble in the face of uncertain uncertainty.

Afternoon Matinee: The Secret Country -The First Australians 4/4

A Perfect Fit

Scott Bradley

In response to the belief that we should love everyone, Katie (Loving What Is) says, "You're not supposed to love others — not until you do." This simple observation is incredibly powerful. Or, so it seems to me.

I am about to suggest something of what I think it means, but if you're truly interested to know, you could not do better than to simply contemplate on it yourself.

It speaks to the perspective that there are no conditions to our absolute acceptability. All reality is Reality, "what is", and therefore, everything is acceptable. This is an extremely difficult position to take; it requires a movement outside the sphere of right and wrong, and that, for some unfathomable reason, is something that the mind refuses to do. Is it because we are such moral beings? Or is it because we are fragmented beings — ever not at home in who we are or in the world as it is? (Katie similarly responds to the inevitable question about war and murder and the like: ". . . if I believe they shouldn't exist, I suffer. They exist until they don't. . . . Sanity doesn't suffer, ever.") Clearly, there is no end to shoulds; neither we nor the world will ever arrive at the imagined perfection that should requires.

Should and Is stand opposed to each other, and if there is to be peace, that opposition needs to be resolved. The way of Daoism is to affirm reality just as it appears to us; in embracing "is", we become that peace that must necessarily elude us as long as we strive to achieve it. Should becomes is. The peace that we wish for the world begins with the peace that we are.

Guo Xiang, commenting on the Zhuangzi, writes: ". . . every being without exception is released into the range of its own spontaneous attainments, so that each being relies on its own innate character, each deed exactly matching its own capabilities. Since each fits perfectly into precisely the position it occupies, all are equally far-reaching and unfettered." (Ziporyn; my italics) The perfect fit does not happen when we become better; it happens when we accept who we are — and that can only make us "better".

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

Line by Line - Verse 74, Lines 7-8

He who would inflict death in the room of him who so presides over it may be described as hewing wood instead of a great carpenter.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

If you try to take his place,
It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood.

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

If we substitute for the master executioner to kill
It is like substituting for the great carpenter to cut

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

That'd be like walking up
to an industrial buzzsaw
and trying to use it
without any training.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
I take these lines as another way of stating that we err when we try to play God! It is when humanity takes on the roles of judge, jury and executioner that we stray from the path of Tao.

The great Way is impartial. All life one day will end in death which will nourish new life. When we intercede in this natural process by condemning some to early and needless death, we interrupt the flow of the cosmos to the detriment of all.

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

Faith and Belief


"You must have faith in God!"

"You only need to believe in Jesus to be saved!"

"You must have faith in there not being a God!"

"You only need to believe there is not Jesus!"
Just re-read those again:

We are often told that these statements on belief and faith
"You must have faith in God!"

"You only need to believe in Jesus to be saved!"
are worthy proofs, but if so then the following:
"You must have faith in there not being a God!"

"You only need to believe there is not Jesus!"
are equally worthy dis-proofs and so presented with Faith and Belief, religion's greatest "proofs", we can see them as entirely empty.

Most likely you did anyway. Yet given that, you'll find a thousand examples in microseconds by performing a simple web-search of people using their Faith or Belief as proof of their fictitious God's existence.

I have Faith and Belief in nothing but humans ability to lie to themselves.

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

Mencius - Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 4B

'Formerly, the duke Ching of Ch'î asked the minister Yen, saying, "I wish to pay a visit of inspection to Chwan-fû, and Cbâo-wû, and then to bend my course southward along the shore, till I come to Lang-yê. What shall I do that my tour may be fit to be compared with the visits of inspection made by the ancient sovereigns?"

'The minister Yen replied, "An excellent inquiry! When the Son of Heaven visited the princes, it was called a tour of inspection, that is, be surveyed the States under their care. When the princes attended at the court of the Son of Heaven, it was called a report of office, that is, they reported their administration of their offices. Thus, neither of the proceedings was without a purpose. And moreover, in the spring they examined the plowing, and supplied any deficiency of seed; in the autumn they examined the reaping, and supplied any deficiency of yield.

'There is the saying of the Hsiâ dynasty, If our king does not take his ramble, what will become of our happiness? If our king does not make his excursion, what will become of our help? That ramble, and that excursion, were a pattern to the princes.
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - I's Dream

I is living the dream.

I is the dream.

I am living my dream.

I is the dream living.

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 World Made Up

Scott Bradley

I have just finished reading Byron Katie's Loving What Is and thought I'd share some of her powerful insights into the things that bind us and paths to freedom. She is basically an advocate of self-inquiry as a means to self-realization; no metaphysics are required, just honesty. And as I have said previously, I find her approach to be a wonderful expression of the heart of Zhuangzi's proto-Daoism without any of the religious trappings; it is as if she took Daoism to the laundromat.

Many of her statements are so simple, yet so radical and challenging to our 'normal' way of understanding ourselves and our worlds, that they open us up to an altogether different way of being in the world.
The world is your perception of it. Inside and outside always match—they are reflections of each other. The world is the mirror image of your mind. . . . I am the story of who you think I am, not who I really am. . . . I am, for you, your uninvestigated story, your own myth.
Like most things 'true', this turns conventional thinking on its head. Rather than the mind mirroring the world, it is the (interpreted) world that mirrors the mind. We make up our own little worlds based on our perception of it, and that perception is determined by our emotional and mental predispositions. If our perception of the world, 'how things are', causes us suffering, the way to relieve that suffering is not to change the world, but to change the way we see it. And this is accomplished through inquiry into our uninvestigated assumptions about reality. If, for instance, I assume the world should be other than it is, I have set the stage for suffering. My task is to reveal to myself the hollowness of my assumption that the world should be other than it is. One does not eradicate thoughts; one exposes them for the lies that they are; they then fall away without conflict.

It is such a powerful thing to realize that my perception of you is a projection of me on you. What I find disturbing in you, for instance, is a reflection of a disturbance in me. I cannot truly know you, nor can you truly know me. We can only know ourselves and can come to do so, in part, through an investigation of how we perceive others. Everyone is our teacher; the more disturbing that other is, the better teacher they are. It's always about me. It's always about acceptance.

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

Friday, June 29, 2012

Tao Bible - Matthew 9:32-33

As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marveled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.
~ King James version ~

The sage is shy and humble - to the world he seems confusing.
Others look to him and listen.
He behaves like a little child.
~ from Verse 49 of the Tao Te Ching ~
I find it both interesting and informative how the Bible and the Taoist texts differ in their discussions of individuals with physical and/or developmental disabilities. In the Bible, such persons often are blamed for their afflictions -- their sin and/or non-belief is the cause and, when these are removed, their afflictions evaporate.

In the Taoist texts -- particularly the Zhuangzi -- the disabled often are depicted as the most wise and virtuous. In the lines from the TTC above, the sage comes off as stupid in the eyes of the world! Yet, by appearing to be a simpleton, the sage, in truth, exhibits her sagacity.

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

Mencius - Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 4A

The king Hsüan of Ch'î had an interview with Mencius in the Snow palace, and said to him, 'Do men of talents and worth likewise find pleasure in these things?' Mencius replied, 'They do; and if people generally are not able to enjoy themselves, they condemn their superiors.

'For them, when they cannot enjoy themselves, to condemn their superiors is wrong, but when the superiors of the people do not make enjoyment a thing common to the people and themselves, they also do wrong.

'When a ruler rejoices in the joy of his people, they also rejoice in his joy; when he grieves at the sorrow of his people, they also grieve at his sorrow. A sympathy of joy will pervade the kingdom; a sympathy of sorrow will do the same: in such a state of things, it cannot be but that the ruler attain to the royal dignity.
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

The Ever Expanding Shroud

Trey Smith

President Barack Obama today asserted executive privilege over documents long sought by Congress in the investigation of the “Fast and Furious” operation. The assertion in my view is facially over broad and excessive. It is the latest example of sweeping claims of executive power and privilege by this Administration. Congress has ample reason to investigate this operation, which involves alleged criminal acts that may have resulted in the death of third parties, including a U.S. agent. The Justice Department is accused of complicity in one of the most ill-conceived and harmful operations in recent years. The very officials and agency accused of wrongdoing is claiming that it can withhold documents from a committee with oversight responsibilities.
~ from Deliberative or Evasive? Obama Asserts Privilege Over “Fast and Furious” by Jonathan Turley ~
At the rate the Obama administration is going, we might as well disband Congress. What purpose do they serve anymore (other than sopping up campaign contributions)?

On the face of it, this is beyond ridiculous. It seems that almost every time Congress or the judiciary requests information and documentation from Team Obama, they are told, "No dice. Our stuff is off limits."

This from a man who promised better transparency as a candidate!

How's that working out?

Afternoon Matinee: The Secret Country -The First Australians 3/4

The Color Red

Trey Smith

Corporate profits are at their highest share as a percentage of the economy in almost 50 years. The share of profits being paid in taxes is near its post-World War II low. The government’s share of the economy has actually shrunk in the Obama years, as has government employment.
~ from The Real Story of the Housing Crash by Dean Baker ~
I am highlighting this brief snippet because, as election season gets into full swing, conservatives will try to sell you on the idea that Barack Obama is as red as red can be. Oh yes, they will tell you again and again, the man is a socialist!

The chief problem with this assertion is that it's not true, not by a long shot. Genuine socialists -- people like yours truly -- do not like Obama precisely because he caters to corporate interests. The policies that the president and his administration have pursued have made the financiers on Wall Street very, very happy.

Every single one of the things Baker points to above would not have occurred IF Obama was the pinko commie he's made out to be. But conservatives won't let such facts get in their way! A great deal of their ads this election season explicitly or implicitly won't paint Obama black -- it will be bright red.

Line by Line - Verse 74, Line 6

There is always One who presides over the infliction death.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

There is always an official executioner.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

There exists a master executioner that kills
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

But that doesn't mean you or I
can just take life and death into our own hands.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
In this instance, the "official executioner" is the process of existence. Everything born eventually dies. No one can escape this eventuality. Death is as much a part of life (and vice versa) as anything else!

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

Someone's Popping the Bubbly

Trey Smith

Look. Privatization schemes are not rocket science. They usually work like this: there is money in the public sector that the private sector would like to get its hands on. It does so by playing on the popular conception of inefficient government bureaucrats and that “more choice” and “more competition” will magically lower prices, improve customer service, and so on. On the rare occasions when the cost of purchasing legislators does not pencil out with the financial benefits involved, corporations now know that they can go directly to voters to get their scheme approved, as Costco discovered.

So, privatization takes place. And we are shocked – shocked, I tell you! – that prices go up and the consumer experience gets worse.
~ from It’s Enough to Make You Want to Drink by Geov Parrish ~
What Parrish is referencing is Initiative 1183 which was passed by voters in Washington last fall. It privatized liquor sales in our state (before this summer, all hard liquor was sold from state liquor stores).

The initiative campaign overwhelmingly was founded by Costco. They sold voters on the idea that privatized hard liquor sales would mean greater competition and, more importantly, LOWER PRICES.

But something funny has happened to the price of hard liquor since the measure went into effect: prices have shot up! In some cases, by as much as 40 percent. Consumers are hopping mad because a good deal of them now realize that they were hoodwinked! Costco wasn't interested in aiding consumers; they wanted to fatten their bottom line and too many dupes voters acquiesced.

(For disclosure purposes, I voted against Initiative 1183. I was able quickly to figure out what Costco was up to.)

So, why have the prices gone up so precipitously?
Prices go up because large corporations have a legal obligation to return the greatest value possible to shareholders. Price points aren’t determined by competition so much as they are by what the market will bear. And in the case of hard liquor – which is an industry with huge markups over cost even before the high additional rates of taxation – the market will bear a lot.
Even worse, as Parrish laments,
Moreover, because most big box stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies have an aisle of hard liquor now – not a whole store of it – selection has suffered, too. If you want one of the most popular brands, you can now find it in many more places. If your tastes are more eclectic, well, good luck with that. And good luck with finding knowledgeable counter help, too.
You see, this isn't some aberration. This is how privatization generally plays out. It costs consumers/taxpayers MORE for LESS service. One would think that voters wouldn't fall for these gambits again and again, that they would begin to smell a rat.

But, too often, they don't...until the genie is already out of the bottle!

Mencius - Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 3B

'It is said in the Book of Poetry,
"The king blazed with anger,
And he marshalled his hosts,
To stop the march to Chü,
To consolidate the prosperity of Châu,
To meet the expectations of the nation."
This was the valor of king Wan. King Wan, in one burst of his anger, gave repose to all the people of the kingdom.

'In the Book of History it is said, "Heaven having produced the inferior people, made for them rulers and teachers, with the purpose that they should be assisting to God, and therefore distinguished them throughout the four quarters of the land. Whoever are offenders, and whoever are innocent, here am I to deal with them. How dare any under heaven give indulgence to their refractory wills?" There was one man pursuing a violent and disorderly course in the kingdom, and king Wû was ashamed of it. This was the valor of king Wû. He also, by one display of his anger, gave repose to all the people of the kingdom.

'Let now your Majesty also, in one burst of anger, give repose to all the people of the kingdom. The people are only afraid that your Majesty does not love valor.'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - It Is

What is it you think you have lost that you need to seek for?

What is this incompleteness that needs completing?

Is not every moment perfect?

As is, no matter what you do, it is.

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.

Freedom from Fame

Scott Bradley

Who can free himself from achievement and fame,
Descend and be lost amidst the masses of men?
He will be like Tao itself, unseen.
He will go about like Life itself, with no name and no home.
(The Way of Chuang Tzu; Merton)
I have quoted this passage from Thomas Merton's adaptation of the Zhuangzi many times; for me it cuts right to the heart of the Daoist project. (I have quoted it from memory on this occasion, and probably not without error).

Personally, at first glance, it might seem that there is little for me to free myself from. Achievement? Fame? I frankly can't lay claim to a whole lot of either. But it isn't really achievement and fame from which one needs to be free; it is the desire for them that is at issue. And this desire is not some appendage attached to a larger self, but the very essence of the egoic-self itself. It is the instinctual need to be 'somebody'. Overturn this, says Zhuangzi, and you are free.

To be free of this insular, Ptolemaic orientation is not unlike the Copernican revolution that so effectively shook humanity from its sense of centrality in the Universe. Suddenly, the Universe is vast and Earth a mere speck on the outer edge of a minor galaxy; we are not special.

To truly identify with Dao or Life is to lose the need for an individuated identity. Is there Dao? Is there Life? It does not matter. What matters is that one understands experientially that he is an expression of the Whole.

To lose one's self is to gain it. What is the pursuit of 'name' but an acknowledgement that one's self is essentially a lack, an emptiness that cannot be filled? There is no achievement or fame that can fill that void. Only in identification with that emptiness — call it Dao or call it Life — is one free of the need to fill it.

Universality is the redemption of individuality. Oneness is the guarantor of not-oneness. Lost amidst the masses of humanity, one's individuality finds all that it needs to flourish.

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

Spam I Am - My Undying Love

Trey Smith

Like everyone else who does email, I receive spam. Some of it is offensive. Some of it is annoying. And some of it is funny, though I don't think that is the intent. I've decided to share some of it with you periodically in a feature I call, Spam I Am.

Everybody wants to be loved. It's one of the few universal things you can say about Homo Sapiens. So, you might understand my excitement when I received the following message last night:
I am consumed by my love for you. I cannot contain it anymore. I have to let you know how I feel. I have sent you an eCard to let you realize how I feel.
Gosh, to be the object of someone's affection! How cool is that?

I was getting goosebumps...until I noticed that the email was not addressed to me! No, it was blind cc'ed to me. What rational person would blind cc a message of undying love to someone?

Oh well, my wife still loves me! ;-)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tao Bible - Matthew 9:20-22

And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
~ King James version ~

With an open mind, you will be openhearted.
Being openhearted, you will act royally.
Being royal, you will attain the divine.
Being divine, you will be at one with the Tao.
~ from Verse 16 of the Tao Te Ching ~
Believing in whatever will not cause diseases of the body and mind routinely to vanish. If this were so, everyone would believe and there would be little disease!

But by being openhearted, we can deal with the travails of life in a more positive manner. The woman with an issue of blood was less than whole, not because of the blood, but the way she looked at her situation. Change the outlook and we change our demeanor.

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

Mencius - Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 3A

The king Hsüan of Ch'î asked, saying, 'Is there any way to regulate one's maintenance of intercourse with neighboring kingdoms?' Mencius replied, 'There is. But it requires a perfectly virtuous prince to be able, with a great country, to serve a small one, as, for instance, T'ang served Ko, and king Wan served the Kwan barbarians. And it requires a wise prince to be able, with a small country, to serve a large one, as the king T'âi served the Hsün-yü, and Kâu-ch'ien served Wû.

'He who with a a great State serves a small one, delights in Heaven. He who with a small State serves a large one, stands in awe of Heaven. He who delights in Heaven, will affect with his love and protection the whole kingdom. He who stands in awe of Heaven, will affect with his love and protection his own kingdom.

'It is said in the Book of Poetry, "I fear the Majesty of Heaven, and will thus preserve its favoring decree."'

The king said,'A great saying! But I have an infirmity; I love valor.'

I beg your Majesty,' was the reply, 'not to love small valor. If a man brandishes his sword, looks fiercely, and says, "How dare he withstand me?" this is the valor of a common man, who can be the opponent only of a single individual. I beg your Majesty to greaten it.
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Romney Receives a Gift That Will Keep on Giving

Trey Smith

Roberts siding with Dems has probably bounced Obama right out of office. The public overwhelmingly hates Obamacare, and this pours gas on the electoral fire.
~ from Obamacare Wins, We Lose by John Stauber ~
Until today, I didn't think Mitt Romney had a snowball's chance in hell at winning this November. Now, I think he has better than an even chance. While Democrats hail the Supreme Court ruling as a win for the president, I think it stands to be his unlikely undoing.

As Stauber writes above, Obamacare is not that popular with the general masses. In various polls, 60-80% of Americans were against the individual mandate provision. Do you think these people won't be swayed by the GOP message to repeal it?

If the Republicans are smart, they should realize that Justice Roberts and his colleagues have handed them a gift that will keep on giving. They can now tap into the simmering anger of voters and whip it up into a righteous frenzy by November 6. Not only should this decision aid Romney in his presidential bid, it should help Republicans running for Congress.

If the GOP sweeps into office this November, they should send a bottle of expensive champagne to Justice Roberts. He may well have tipped the entire election in their favor today with the stroke of a pen.

Afternoon Matinee: The Secret Country -The First Australians 2/4

You Shouldn't Be Surprised

Trey Smith

A lot of people are surprised by the US Supreme Court decision to uphold most of Obamacare, including the controversial provision called the "individual mandate." If you've been paying attention to the high court decisions over the past few years, then you would realize that the court consistently comes down on the side of corporations and corporations, not citizens, are the BIG winners today.

Beginning in 2014, we citizens will be forced to hand over gobs of money to an industry that has no interests whatsoever in keeping premiums down. Since this legislation does little, if anything, to contain costs, I'm betting that most of the health care CEOs are dancing in their boardrooms. It's like receiving manna from heaven!

While this is bad enough on it's face, this decision only further entrenches the failed US health care model. It will now be that much more difficult to join the rest of the modern world in providing some form of universal health care. Now that corporations will receive a greater windfall of profits than before, their lobbyists will fight ever harder to keep the system as is. They will do everything in their power to ensure no one kills their goose that lays these golden eggs.

Line by Line - Verse 74, Lines 3-5

If the people were always in awe of death, and I could always seize those who do wrong, and put them to death, who would dare to do wrong?
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

If men live in constant fear of dying,
And if breaking the law means that a man will be killed,
Who will dare to break the law?

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

If people are made to constantly fear death
Then those who act unlawfully
I can capture and kill them
Who would dare?

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

If people are afraid to die,
and the wicked are condemned to death,
then who would dare to commit evil?

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
For me, these lines go to the heart of excessive punishment. When punishment is excessive, as mentioned in yesterday's entry, people don't fear it. It represents little more than routine background noise.

However, if punishments are fair and only severe for the worst of the worst crimes, then who would commit those crimes? Me thinks only those individuals who have given up on life already.

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

What Next?

Trey Smith

If all goes as scheduled, I will finish the Tao Te Ching Line by Line series on Wednesday, August 29. The first post in this series came on August 9, 2010 and, at least through the beginning of July, I have not missed even one day. When the series comes to an end -- barring some cataclysmic event for yours truly -- there will be over 750 posts spanning a tad more than 2 years!

I was thinking to myself the other day, "Once I finish this endeavor, what next?" One consideration would be to take a writing break. Nah!! I actually have enjoyed the discipline that comes with working on this project over the long haul. This is not to suggest that I have written the posts for this series day-by-day. I tend to write them in batches, often writing all the posts for each verse in one or two sittings. It has not been uncommon at all for up to 20 entries to be scheduled far in advance.

So, in thinking over the question of what I might tackle next, I've decided to wade into Scott Bradley territory. Scott has done a magnificent job discussing and analyzing the Zhuangzi. For the most part, I have steered clear of this topic, so that Scott could have the spotlight all to himself.

However, Scott's writing output has slowed considerably and he has indicated to me that he might (or might not) want to take a bit of a break. Besides, one of the aims we emphasize on this blog is that we offer differing aspects and/or perspectives on Taoist thought. So, I think the time has come for me to move beyond the Tao Te Ching to the Zhuangzi.

It should go without saying that, owing to the different writing style of this supposed later Taoist sage, I will not be presenting the text line-by-line. Instead, I'm going to present it bit-by-bit! I will start with Chapter 1 and wend my way over a few years time to Chapter 33.

So, this post is merely a heads up that, beginning on September 1, you can look for Zhuangzi Bit by Bit in the usual 11:11 am slot.

Mencius - Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 2

The king Hsüan of Ch'î asked, 'Was it so, that the park of king Wan contained seventy square lî?' Mencius replied, 'It is so in the records.'

'Was it so large as that?' exclaimed the king. 'The people,' said Mencius, 'still looked on it as small.' The king added, 'My park contains only forty square lî, and the people still look on it as large. How is this?' 'The park of king Wan,' was the reply, 'contained seventy square lî, but the grass-cutters and fuel-gatherers had the privilege of entrance into it; so also had the catchers of pheasants and hares. He shared it with the people, and was it not with reason that they looked on it as small?

'When I first arrived at the borders of your kingdom, I inquired about the great prohibitory regulations, before I would venture to enter it; and I heard, that inside the barrier-gates there was a park of forty square lî, and that he who killed a deer in it, was held guilty of the same crime as if he had killed a man. Thus those forty square lî are a pitfall in the middle of the kingdom. Is it not with reason that the people look upon them as large?'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - 100 Years, He Asked

He said:

I will set my clock to wake me in 100 years time. I will meditate so deeply that I will not take food, no water and barely one breath. As my body is so still I will age less than one day in all of this time.

The world around me and my clock will go for 100 years of motion and during this time I will do not one thing but meditate on this one question: "Who is meditating?" - When my clock calls me round I will announce my first words for 100 years and they shall be the answer to this one question.

After 100 years he said:

No one is meditating! In 100 years I have meditated and dedicated myself to this quest, I have delved I have persisted, and I have found, for sure, that no one is meditating. I must conclude with my fresh and un-aged mind that: If no one was meditating, then there was no meditation and that - this is one.

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.

Dao III: A Way

Scott Bradley

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.

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

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tao Bible - Matthew 9:10-12

And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
~ King James version ~

What is a good man?
A teacher of a bad man.
What is a bad man?
A good man's charge.
~ from Verse 27 of the Tao Te Ching ~
Not surprisingly, I like Lao Tzu's phraseology better than Matthew's. Matthew makes his point coming from one direction, while the Taoist sage encircles the point. Truth be known, each of us plays both roles, slipping seamlessly between the teacher/physician and the student/sick.

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

Mencius - Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 1C

'Now, your Majesty is having music here. The people hear the noise of your bells and drums, and the notes of your fifes and pipes, and they all, delighted, and with joyful looks, say to one another, "That sounds as if our king were free from all sickness! If he were not, how could he enjoy this music?" Now, your Majesty is hunting here. The people hear the noise of your carriages and horses, and see the beauty of your plumes and streamers, and they all, delighted, and with joyful looks, say to one another, "That looks as if our king were free from all sickness! If he were not, how could he enjoy this hunting?" Their feeling thus is from no other reason but that you cause them to have their pleasure as you have yours.

'If your Majesty now will make pleasure a thing common to the people and yourself, the royal sway awaits you.'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Political Calculus 101

Trey Smith

...since the Obama administration itself initiated the most massive wave of deportations in US history, it also could have stopped them six months, a year, two years ago. So calling press conferences, as Chicago Congressman Luis Gutierrez did, to thank the Obama Administration for maybe stopping deportations just of vets and college-bound youth with spotless records is like expressing sincere gratitude to a brutal assailant who's beat every square inch of your body the last three years, when he announces he might start going easy on the head and groin shots from now on. If you ask him nicely.

This is not a victory for the human dignity of immigrants. It's a no-cost cynical ploy by the Obama Administration a few months before the election to shore up his sagging support in the Latino community.
~ from Obama Memo Deferring Some Deportations Not a Victory For Latinos, Immigrants or Human Rights by Bruce A. Dixon ~
I am always dubious of presidential proclamations and policy shifts in the lead-up to a presidential election. Too often, as in this case, the rhetoric of the announcement makes a tiny stone sound like it's as large as the Rock of Gibraltar! (If you read Dixon's column, you'll see Obama's memo isn't all it's cracked up to be.)

Dixon's fellow columnist at the Black Agenda Report, Margaret Kimberley, points out something rather curious about our current Commander-in-Chief.
When President Obama doesn’t want to do something, he pleads the limits of presidential power or resistance from Republicans. But, when a novel move is to his political benefit, the world is his oyster. So far, gays and Latinos have benefited from Obama’s newfound insights or powers. Obama could just as easily issue executive orders “to change policies on incarceration, or address the foreclosure crisis, or bring federal dollars to economically devastated communities.”
But he doesn't seem interested in doing any of that. Why? It's all based on political calculus.

Throwing a bone or two to gays and Latinos doesn't upset Wall Street all that much. As long as the titans of capital aren't impacted by such vote-chasing ploys, there is little political risk. The money from the well-to-do will keep flowing into Obama's campaign coffers unabated.

And that's really all that matters as the campaign season picks up steam. Obama can do about whatever he wants to shore up his base, so long as he does not cause corporate profit to fall by as much a penny. That's the one bridge he will refuse to cross.

Afternoon Matinee: The Secret Country -The First Australians 1/4

Aliens have landed!!


Aliens from our universe have landed!

They came with:

  • Great science
  • Strong religious views
  • Bad hygiene

Which would you prefer they hadn't brought with them?

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

Line by Line - Verse 74, Lines 1-2

The people do not fear death; to what purpose is it to (try to) frighten them with death?
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

If men are not afraid to die,
It is no avail to threaten them with death.

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

People do not fear death
How can they be threatened with death?

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

If people's lives suck,
and they look forward to death,
what good does it do to threaten to kill them?

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
In present US society, we are creating ever more categories of crime that result in a prison sentence. While the rate of crime bobs up and down, people still commit crimes daily. It would seem that the stiff punishments don't serve as that much of a deterrent!

Take a look at the Christian Bible. There supposedly are numerous sins that will lead to death, yet the faithful commit those very sins over and over again. It seems that continual threats of spiritual or bodily death don't faze believers.

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

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever, Dammit!

Trey Smith

From 7/5 - 7/12, we will be featuring each afternoon videos which discuss the writings and thought of Chuang Tzu/Zhuangzi (whichever spelling you prefer). One of the many, many points discussed -- it happens to be one of the reasons that I was drawn to philosophical Taoism in the first place -- concerns the notion that the human perspective of life and the cosmos is but one perspective among many.

This idea flies in the face of most religions or philosophies. Throughout human history, our species has supposed that the human perspective is the only one there is (other than God's perspective -- but we're made in his image, right?). While some thinkers have allowed that there may be perspectives other than ours, it has been almost unanimous that the human version is the best of these.

How could it be otherwise? In our egocentric view, humans sit atop the evolutionary ladder and so it just stands to reason that the human perspective is closest to that of God's.

Zhuangzi is one of the few philosophers who didn't place much import on the human perspective. He certainly didn't invalidate it, but he didn't award it the blue ribbon either. He simply viewed the human perspective as one perspective out of many.

Of course, though we often think of it as such, there is no one unifying human perspective anyway. Each of us possesses our own personal version of it and, in many ways, these versions conflict with each other. Sometimes, we amalgamate our personal perspectives into institutional ones and out of this are born ideologies and religions.

The institutional forms of perspective have been/are one of the prime engines for subjugation, poverty and war. We fight tooth-and-nail to force others to acknowledge that the perspective of our nation or our religion is the cream of the crop. When others refuse to acquiesce, then we seek to destroy them.

To offer an example of what I'm referring to in this post, let's say you and your partner have been invited to another couple's home for dinner. After enjoying a wondrous meal, your hosts bring out the dessert: chocolate cake. They tell you that this is no ordinary chocolate cake -- it comes from the best chocolate cake recipe ever written!

As you dig into the piece of chocolate cake presented to you, you comment that it is very, very good. Instead of accepting the compliment, your hosts are offended by your opinion. It is not simply very good, they scream, it is beyond question the best chocolate cake you will ever eat. You may state that, as good as it tastes, you're not willing to say it is the best ever. Your Aunt Sally makes a darn good chocolate cake as does your good friend, Dan.

If you're going to adopt that kind of stance, your hosts declare, then you should leave...and never come back.

As you and your partner travel back home, you are both amazed at the vociferous nature of your host's demeanor. It was darn good cake, your partner says, but it was bit too dense for my tastes. You mention that you thought it was a tad bit too sweet. You both marvel at the end of a long friendship over something as trivial as cake!

We humans view the human perspective as the best chocolate cake ever made and become incredulous if someone -- like Zhuangzi -- suggests that while the human recipe of chocolate cake is a good one, there are scores of other chocolate cake recipes out there. We are prideful of our recipe simply because it is the one we wrote and we dismiss all others because we are not the authors.

Mencius - Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 1B

The king said, 'May I hear from you the proof of that?' Mencius asked, 'Which is the more pleasant, to enjoy music by yourself alone, or to enjoy it with others?' 'To enjoy it with others,' was the reply. 'And which is the more pleasant, to enjoy music with a few, or to enjoy it with many?' 'To enjoy it with many.'

Mencius proceeded, 'Your servant begs to explain what I have said about music to your Majesty.

'Now, your Majesty is having music here. The people hear the noise of your bells and drums, and the notes of your fifes and pipes, and they all, with aching heads, knit their brows, and say to one another, "That's how our king likes his music! But why does he reduce us to this extremity of distress? Fathers and sons cannot see one another. Elder brothers and younger brothers, wives and children, are separated and scattered abroad."

'Now, your Majesty is hunting here. The people hear the noise of your carriages and horses, and see the beauty of your plumes and streamers, and they all, with aching heads, knit their brows, and say to one another, "That's how our king likes his hunting! But why does he reduce us to this extremity of distress? Fathers and sons cannot see one another. Elder brothers and younger brothers, wives and children, are separated and scattered abroad." Their feeling thus is from no other reason but that you do not allow the people to have pleasure as well as yourself.
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Truth in a Book?

Truth can only exist in a book as truth exists previous to the book and the writing.

How then, can the book contain truth?

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.

Dao II: A State of Mind

Scott Bradley

When we say that Dao stands for Ultimate Reality we are simply giving a nod to Oneness. And Oneness implies that nothing exists outside Itself, however lowly or apparently deviant. This is probably already saying too much, but certainly we can say no more. Dao is beyond the grasp of mind.

Because it is impossible for anything to in any way to be other than Dao, nothing can or need be done to “attain” Dao. There are no conditions to meet. This does not mean that human beings, who have the capacity to behave disharmoniously with respect to Dao, cannot act so as to restore that harmony. But a first step in that restoration is the realization that that restoration is not a condition for ontic (for lack of a better word) unity with Dao; 'unity' in this case is an absurdity in that it suggests another possibility. I am my mother's son whatever my behavioral relationship with her.

The restoration of harmony is psychological Dao. One realizes who he already is (though this equates to mystery). Dao is also a state of mind.

Harmony with Dao is harmony with Reality; and although we cannot know what that Reality "is", we do experience an interface with it. And though this harmony expresses itself in many ways, its most essential character is one of thankful acceptance; we cease to war with events, 'facts', and circumstances whether within or without, because we understand these as Dao. This is only possible when we realize that there is ultimately nothing in us to preserve, nothing to save. We free ourselves to fearlessly flow with Dao.

Acceptance of reality as Reality is not an abdication of responsibility; it is the realization of the freedom wherein we are enabled to transform without that disharmony which disallows transformation. Understanding that not-one is also One is an organic first step in the approximation of greater oneness.

Disharmony is also Dao, but Dao, whatever it "is", is in no way static; it is endless transformation and we are free to transform along with it, knowing all the while that nothing more than a temporal peace is at issue.

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

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mencius - Book 1, Part 2, Chapter 1A

Chwang Pâ'o, seeing Mencius, said to him, 'I had an interview with the king. His Majesty told me that he loved music, and I was not prepared with anything to reply to him. What do you pronounce about that love of music?' Mencius replied, 'If the king's love of music were very great, the kingdom of Ch'î would be near to a state of good government!'

Another day, Mencius, having an interview with the king, said, 'Your Majesty, I have heard, told the officer Chwang, that you love music; was it so?' The king changed color, and said, 'I am unable to love the music of the ancient sovereigns; I only love the music that suits the manners of the present age.'

Mencius said, 'If your Majesty's love of music were very great, Ch'î would be near to a state of good government! The music of the present day is just like the music of antiquity, as regards effecting that.'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

A Bedtime Story

Trey Smith

It was almost closing time when the siege began at a small Wells Fargo Bank branch in a suburb of San Diego, and it was a nightmare. The three gunmen entered with the intent to rob, but as they herded the 18 customers and bank employees toward a back room, they were spotted by a pedestrian outside who promptly called 911. Within minutes, police cars were pulling up, the bank was surrounded, and back-up was being called in from neighboring communities. The gunmen promptly barricaded themselves inside with their hostages, including women and small children, and refused to let anyone leave.

The police called on the gunmen to surrender, but before negotiations could even begin, shots were fired from within the bank, wounding a police officer. The events that followed -- now known to everyone, thanks to 24/7 news coverage -- shocked the nation. Declaring the bank robbers “terrorist suspects,” the police requested air support from the Pentagon and, soon after, an F-15 from Vandenberg Air Force Base dropped two GBU-38 bombs on the bank, leaving the building a pile of rubble.

All three gunmen died. Initially, a Pentagon spokesman, who took over messaging from the local police, insisted that “the incident” had ended “successfully” and that all the dead were “suspected terrorists.” The Pentagon press office issued a statement on other casualties, noting only that, “while conducting a follow-on assessment, the security force discovered two women who had sustained non-life-threatening injuries. The security force provided medical assistance and transported both women to a local medical facility for treatment." It added that it was sending an “assessment team” to the site to investigate reports that others had died as well.

Of course, as Americans quickly learned, the dead actually included five women, seven children, and a visiting lawyer from Los Angeles. The aftermath was covered in staggering detail. Relatives of the dead besieged city hall, bitterly complaining about the attack and the deaths of their loved ones. At a news conference the next morning, while scenes of rescuers digging in the rubble were still being flashed across the country, President Obama said: “Such acts are simply unacceptable. They cannot be tolerated.” In response to a question, he added, “Nothing can justify any airstrike which causes harm to the lives and property of civilians.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Martin Dempsey immediately flew to San Diego to meet with family members of the dead and offer apologies. Heads rolled in the local police department and in the Pentagon. Congress called for hearings as well as a Justice Department investigation of possible criminality, and quickly passed a bill offering millions of dollars to the grieving relatives as “solace.” San Diego began raising money for a memorial to the group already dubbed the Wells Fargo 18.

One week later, at the exact moment of the bombing, church bells rang throughout the San Diego area and Congress observed a minute of silence in honor of the dead.

It couldn’t have been more dramatic and, as you know perfectly well, it couldn’t have happened -- not in the U.S. anyway. But just over a week ago, an analogous “incident” did happen in Afghanistan and it passed largely unnoticed here.
~ from Bombing Weddings in Afghanistan: It Couldn’t Happen Here, It Does Happen There by Tom Engelhardt ~
Sweet dreams, my children, and may sugar plums and fairies dance in your head!

Afternoon Matinee: Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene

The Question of Who

Trey Smith

Adolescence can be a difficult time for an individual. It is the stage between childhood and adulthood, not quite the former and yet not quite the latter. Our bodies go through tremendous changes -- many which we find quite perplexing. It is a period of life when so many sensations come flying in from all directions and, unsurprisingly, many an adolescent goes through periods when they feel almost completely overwhelmed.

In trying to decide which path or paths to head down, what is one piece of advice that adolescents -- we hear the same advice in adulthood as well -- that is repeated over and over again?

Be yourself.

On the surface, it SOUNDS like quality advice. Don't try to be something or someone you are not. Be. Yourself.

But we all know there is a fly in the ointment of this suggestion. In order to be ourselves, we must know who we are and the answer to THAT question ain't so easy.

Who am I?

By I, do I mean the preferential I? The I of my hopes and dreams? The I of my ego?

Taoists would answer that the I we should look for is the innate I -- the I that is a manifestation of the one. But how do we find this I?

Let's say I somehow found my innate I. I would have to perceive it in some way, shape or form. As I perceived it, my ego would shape what I perceived and one could certainly argue that, once the ego gets a hold of anything, that thing becomes polluted or degraded.

So, even if I could find in myself the innate essence of that self, the intercession of the egoic self would alter my perception of that which is innate. One outcome of this process would be simply to throw up my hands and scream, I'm screwed!

Another outcome -- one I think the Taoist sages pointed toward -- is that, while it probably is impossible to connect with the innate I in its purest form, the exercise in moving this direction is not without merit. We would be far better off to catch incomplete glimpses of the innate I than never to see it all.

Line by Line - Verse 73, Lines 10-11

The meshes of the net of Heaven are large; far apart, but letting nothing escape.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

Heaven's net casts wide.
Though its meshes are course, nothing slips through.

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

The heavenly net is vast
Loose, and yet does not let anything slip through

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

"Heaven casts a wide net,
with big holes,"
Lao Tzu used to say,
"but nothing ever gets by it."

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
Okay, you've had to put up with my incessant babbling all throughout this verse! We'll bring it to a close with the thoughts of Derek Lin.
The Tao is like a net that stretches across the cosmos. This matrix of existence is loose and relaxed, and yet it takes everything into account and does not leave anything out. Those who possess courage act in harmony within this net, and therefore appear to be favored by Heaven.
To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

Say What You Like, But...

Trey Smith

Pastor Jim Garlow will stand before congregants at his 2,000-seat Skyline Wesleyan Church in La Mesa, California, on Sunday, October 7, just weeks before the U.S. presidential and congressional elections, and urge his flock to vote for or against particular candidates.

He knows such pulpit pleading could endanger his church's tax-exempt status by violating IRS rules for a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. A charity can take a position on policy issues but cannot act "on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office." To cross that line puts the $7 million mega-church's tax break at risk.

Even so, Garlow not only intends to break the rules, he also plans to spend the next four months recruiting other pastors to do the same as part of Pulpit Freedom Sunday. On that day each year since 2008, ministers intentionally try to provoke the IRS. Some even send DVD recordings of their sermons to the agency.

Last year, 539 pastors participated. This year organizers expect far more. Participants want to force the matter to court as a freedom of speech and religion issue.

"I believe we're on the early stages of the next great awakening," Garlow told his congregation last year. "We're going to see it just sweep across this nation."

The situation is fraught with peril for the IRS, which needs to be seen as apolitical. When it cracks down on political activities proscribed by the 501(c)(3) regulations, it is inevitably branded as partisan.

When the target is a church, mosque or synagogue, enforcement puts two fundamental American values at odds: freedom of speech and the separation of church and state. Although the agency has enforced the tax-exemption rules against churches in the past, it has so far ignored the provocations of Freedom Sunday.
~ from As Churches Get Political, IRS Stays Quiet By Nanette Byrnes ~
I've seen this argument before and, for the life of me, this is not an issue of freedom of speech versus separation of church and state. This is a tax issue!

Simply put, the US Constitution guarantees the right of free speech, but nowhere in the document does it guarantee the right of tax exemption! The latter is a privilege extended by the government and this privilege is extended within a set of parameters. One of these parameters involves not taking positions on political candidates.

This parameter in no way hinders the speech of charitable organizations because they don't have to be charitable (non-taxable) ones. If a particular group wants to advocate for or against political candidates, they can apply to be a 501(c)(4) or some other type of organization.

This is a case of some organizations wanting their cake and eating it too. They want to be tax-exempt, but they don't want to be bound by tax-exempt rules. Put another way, they want to get out of the responsibility of paying into the system while, at the same time, trying to influence the system in a particular direction.