Friday, August 31, 2012

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 24

The disciple Yo-chang went in the train of Tsze-âo to Ch'î.

He came to see Mencius, who said to him, 'Are you also come to see me?' Yo-chang replied, 'Master, why do you speak such words?' 'How many days have you been here?' asked Mencius. 'I came yesterday.' 'Yesterday! Is it not with reason then that I thus speak?' 'My lodging-house was not arranged.' 'Have you heard that a scholar's lodging-house must be arranged before he visit his elder?'

Yo-chang said, 'I have done wrong.'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Mum, Build Me a Tree House

Trey Smith

In case you didn't know it, the author of the Harry Potter series of books is a job creator!
The author JK Rowling has won permission to build two Hogwarts-style tree houses in the garden of her home, despite complaints from neighbours.

Rowling, 46, plans to build the two-storey structures for her children David, nine, and Kenzie, seven, in the grounds of her 17th century mansion in an Edinburgh suburb, at an estimated cost of £250,000.
Yes, Ms. Rowling will create jobs for a few blokes so they can build palatial tree houses for her children!

Now, if you're an American like me, you may not know offhand what £250,000 equates to in US dollars. So, I looked it up. It comes to a hair less than $400,000.

Millions of people around the world face poverty, malnutrition and early death, but not JK Rowling's children. Each will get to wile away their youth in little playhouses worth about $200K a piece! (That's about twice what my house in South Bend is worth.)

And the well-to-do wonder why the masses are a bit perturbed with them?

I can't imagine why....

Afternoon Matinee: Lewis Black on Glenn Beck


Scott Bradley

On several occasions I have told Trey that I think my well of words is about to run dry, only for it to flow anew. Eventually, it will run dry, no doubt. (Note: This is Scott's 1000th post at The Rambling Taoists!) Hopefully, that will be because the exercise will have accomplished its purpose and I will have learned silence. More likely, it will be because I finally drowned in my own bullshit. But maybe they are the same.

There are many reasons why the well sometimes seems about to run dry. One is that I figure I've said all I have to say. Apart from "Eureka!", this is pretty much the case, but I keep on finding new ways to say the same thing.

Another reason is that I quite simply do tire of my own bullshit. And not just mine, but everyone else's who presumes to speak on things 'spiritual'.

Closely related to this is the hypocrisy factor. Talk is cheap. Or, more to the point, talk is easy. Living the blabber is incredibly more difficult.

I sometimes wonder if, having found or created another blog-spot where 'no one knows my name', and none of my disclaimers and self-denigrations are on record, I could successfully play the enlightened guru. I think I could, though I have no desire to do so. It's so easy, once you learn the words.

What this really makes me ask, given my exposure to so many other voices that know the words much better than I, is if they are not, in fact, doing just that, playing the guru. Some, no doubt, are. Perhaps some are for real. But most, I would guess, are so sufficiently self-deceived as to be unaware that they are merely playing. This is little different than the preachers behind their pulpits. Many probably know they are living a lie; most manage to fool themselves; a few remain honest. Are there any to whom the biblical God actually speaks? You know the One, the God who murdered all the firstborn of Egypt because he had a beef with the Pharaoh. That One.

I would unreservedly recommend Stephen Mitchells' The Second Book of the Tao to anyone interested in our shared interest in 'spirituality'. His words are often quite wonderful. He's got it. Or does he? He never actually says he does. But he either does or he is utterly full of shit — just like me. No, more so than me, because there are no disclaimers.

Is there an unwritten law that those who've got it shouldn’t say so? "Those who know do not speak." They all speak, but few are those who say they know; they simply imply that they do. Is this honesty? Perhaps. Certainly, we instinctively know to shy away from those who proclaim they do know.

I once wrote to a self-proclaimed enlightened one (someone who had realized 'no-self') asking if he really ‘had it’. His response was to say he didn’t need to prove himself to anyone, held me up as an example of the misguided, and shut down his blog. I won’t ask that again!

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

A One with Several Zeros

Trey Smith

A few weeks ago I announced that the Tao Bible series was going to take a bit of a hiatus. It was to start reappearing here around the first of September. At about the same time, I was going to launch my bit by bit series of the Zhuangzi. As I suppose you can tell, I'm here to announce that I am putting both off a bit longer.

Sometime this month, we passed the 10,000 post mark on this blog. Since I have written the vast majority of these posts plus formatted all of Scott's post and a good number of Ta-Wan's, I'm thinking it will be nice to take somewhat of a break to catch my breath. While I love working on the different series I present to you each day, in some ways, I have become a slave TO them. So, I've decided to give my brain a rest for a few weeks.

This is NOT to suggest that this blog will go dormant. Far from it. I may end up writing just as much as I usually do, but I'm going to TRY to broaden the kind of stuff I write about. It may work out that way...or it may not. I guess we'll have to see.

Beginning today, I'm going to tweak the daily time slots a tad. Until I start into Zhuangzi Bit by Bit, there will be no posts at 11:11 am. You probably will see posts at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm (Pacific Time).

With the campaign season in full swing, I'm more than confident you will see a lot of socio-political commentary from me. Ooh, now there's a surprise! :-D

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 23

Mencius said, 'The evil of men is that they like to be teachers of others.'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Oneness

Nothing exists "of itself" but only in relation to everything other than itself.

Yet they are one. Impossible, to correctly conceive, alone.

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.

No Offense

Scott Bradley

Shortly after the sentencing of members of the band Pussy Riot to two years in the re-education gulag, one of their husbands commented that those Orthodox "Christians" who were offended by Pussy’s cathedral performance were lousy Christians. I said, Amen.

But is that entirely the case? Were they orthodox Daoists or Buddhists, it certainly would be, for neither of these would, at least in theory, have anything 'sacred' to defend, and thus no reason to take offense. They would take offense, of course. Indeed, the offending party might not have survived the offended's riot. Daoism and Buddhism are religions after all.

The revealed, Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) do in fact have things sacred and thus things to defend. It's true that we are told we may defer justice because, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord", but it's hard not to be God-like when God is so human. God gets angry and offended, so why shouldn't we?

Though I don't recommend one do this, for practical as well as heartful reasons, I have long thought that the quickest test of the validity of any religion is to bad-mouth what it holds most sacred. It's then that we see whether they truly make a difference in the transformation of the human. Alas, they do not. This is why we have imagined "masters", "sages" and "saints"; it is necessary that we believe that at least someone gives truth to the validity of what we ourselves constantly invalidate.

All this was meant as an intro to a consideration of theme of "the empty boat" found in Zhuangzi 20. It's one of my favorite tropes. No one would get offended by an empty boat colliding with his own, but put someone in that boat and he would. In an unexpected twist, the moral is that it is our boat that should be empty. If no one is there, no offense is given or felt — ever.

Mitchell (The Second Book of the Tao) takes it a step further and adapts it thus: "Realize that all boats are empty as you cross the river of the world, and nothing can possibly offend you." Though such an approach echoes the assertions of ‘Eastern’ speculative metaphysics, its roots in this case are grounded in a philosophy much more concrete. Once again, we are confronted with the perspective that all is well. Everything that happens — relative to our individual being in the world — is good and perfect. Mitchell comments, “Once you take total responsibility for your life, you understand that no one is the doer.” When your boat is empty, all boats are empty.

If you are having a hard time connecting all these dots, that’s understandable. Yet they can be, if we care to spend the meditative time necessary to allow the picture to emerge. But you’ve no doubt got a life that demands to be lived right now in a more practical way, and no time for connecting seemingly disparate dots.

I hope that doesn’t offend.

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

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 22

Mencius said, 'Men's being ready with their tongues arises simply from their not having been reproved.'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

How Propaganda Is Done

Trey Smith

The rightwing transparency group, Judicial Watch, released Tuesday a new batch of documents showing how eagerly the Obama administration shoveled information to Hollywood film-makers about the Bin Laden raid. Obama officials did so to enable the production of a politically beneficial pre-election film about that "heroic" killing, even as administration lawyers insisted to federal courts and media outlets that no disclosure was permissible because the raid was classified.

Thanks to
prior disclosures from Judicial Watch of documents it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, this is old news. That's what the Obama administration chronically does: it manipulates secrecy powers to prevent accountability in a court of law, while leaking at will about the same programs in order to glorify the president.
~ from Correspondence and Collusion Between the New York Times and the CIA by Glenn Greenwald ~
In discussions around my community, people often ask me to provide an example of what propaganda entails. All one needs to do to understand it, I tell them, is to look at the way the Obama administration deals with the release of information.

If said information benefits or glorifies the president -- even if its release goes against protocol or the law -- nobody finds themselves in the least bit of trouble. If, on the other hand, said information exposes corruption and the president finds himself in a less than favorable light, heads will roll! This is the basic reason Bradley Manning finds himself in so much trouble -- he made the man of "hope" and "change we can all believe in" look bad.

In the case Greenwald cites above, the Obama administration consistently argues in court that it can't be held accountable for acts that are so sensitive and top secret that it can't even admit if they transpired or not while, at the same time, they freely share this very same "top secret" information with filmmakers. This scenario should boggle your mind!

This is the essence of propaganda: the control of information to further specific political ends.

Afternoon Matinee: Lewis Black on Gay Bandidos

Be Careful What You Wish For

Trey Smith

As drought has gripped much of the middle of the US, what is the one thing farmers and others have prayed for?


Some of these areas will get their wish as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac will dump a lot of wet stuff on them. In Arkansas, where the drought has been exceptional, forecasters have predicted there may be a threat of flash flooding. There is a rather good chance that many of these areas will go from parched soil to having more water than the ground can handle. You could say that they will jump out of the fire into a frying pan!

This situation is not unlike an impoverished family who prays for a financial windfall. By the luck of the draw, they win the lottery. Now flush with hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars, they think that all of their troubles are behind them.

Sadly, many such families encounter a host of new problems and some even wind up penniless again.

It's not uncommon for most of us to wish for that which we lack to survive. There is a danger, however, if we receive too much of what we desire too fast. As it happens, we often aren't prepared to deal with it and the wish come true becomes it's own nightmare.

Like Losing a Friend

Trey Smith

For the first time in 754 days, there is no TTC Line by Line post in this time slot. The reason for this should be apparent. Yesterday's post was for the last line of Verse 81 and that is the final verse.

To be quite candid, I have very mixed feelings about the completion of the series. On the one hand, it feels good to be done. I made a commitment to myself to keep to the schedule faithfully and, to my surprise, I did it for 753 consecutive days! Excuse me for patting myself on the back, but it's a big deal to me (though it may well not be for you and that's more than okay).

On the other hand, saying goodbye to this series is like losing an old friend. The posts for this series were ever on my mind and, as an individual who likes the routine of sameness, that sameness is now gone.

Aah, but such is life.

Eventually, my plan is to make this series into a number of e-books. I'm thinking I'll make books for every ten verses and, once the 8 books are finished, one long e-book of the whole thing. But don't hold your breath. Since the series can be accessed easily through this blog, this will be nothing more than a long-range side project.

An Innocent Man

Trey Smith

Over the years, I've created a certain rep for myself: I don't like babies. I'm not rude, crude or nasty about it. It's just that I work diligently to stay away of them. If anyone asks, I make it clear that I'm not much into "baby" anything.

Of course, since I'm writing this post, it probably won't surprise you to learn that I really don't dislike babies at all. My issue with babies is that I don't have much experience with them and so I often feel very uncomfortable around them.

I've never been a father, so there have been no babies in my house. I don't think I have ever had a friend who was raising an infant at the time I hung out with them. I'm not particularly close to any of my cousins, so I wasn't around when they were raising their children. My sole experience with infants and very young children was during my time as a social worker and, even during this phase of my life, said experience was VERY limited.

I offer this information as a backdrop to something that occurred the other day.

I was up visiting at my friend Paul's mini mart -- my one consistent social outlet. The youngest employee, Kayla, came into the store as a customer with her approximately one year old daughter. As Kayla collected a variety of soft drinks and chips, her little tyke was having trouble walking next to mom. Her daughter would take a few steps and then sort of waddled her butt to the floor.

After watching this sequence three or four times, I walked to the back of the store. As I approached, I think Kayla expected me to offer to carry her store items to the front, so that she could pick up her daughter. To Kayla's utter shock, the man who says he doesn't like babies picked up the baby! I then followed Kayla to the checkout area with baby in tow.

As we walked, the little girl babbled baby talk and -- even more surprising, I'm sure -- I reciprocated. By the time I handed the child back over to mommy, she was laughing, smiling and making cute baby noises. As Kayla and baby left to go pick up Kayla's boyfriend, she looked back at me smiling and shaking her head in disbelief.

The next day, when she was on duty at the store, she couldn't stop talking about how well I seemed to connect with her young daughter. I told her that, while I feel uncomfortable around infants and young children due to a lack of experience, children have gravitated towards me all throughout my life. It's something I have never understood.

Kayla's response caught me completely off guard. "I know what it is, Trey" she said. "There is a certain innocence about you and babies pick up on that." The other employee on duty (Dan) readily agreed with her assessment.

I got to tell you that there are a lot of words I can think of to describe myself and innocent isn't one of them!! And yet, this isn't the first time in my life someone has referred to me as having an innocent demeanor. In fact, this is a very common word others use to describe me.

I don't understand why. When I ask people -- as I certainly asked Kayla -- to describe what they mean, I'm told that they can't put it into words. There's just something about me that oozes innocence.

I suppose it has something to do with my autism. That's the only explanation that would seem to make sense. I mean, it would be one thing to be considered innocent by others IF they could explain to me what they mean by this term, but no one can seem to put it into words.

I still don't get it, but at least it's better than people viewing me as dangerous or something like that.

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 21

Mencius said, 'There are cases of praise which could not be expected, and of reproach when the parties have been seeking to be perfect.'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Key Rules When You Decide To Be Human

You are essential. You exist in your role, because you are part of the whole;

And so exist forever.

Reality exists for precisely as long as you are human; as time is only made by you then;

So you were un-"born" for no "time" and will be "dead" for no "time".

Knowing you are witness to that entire process, and the reason for it, is mind-blowing.

But then as you are it, and it is you, so there is no mind to blow.

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.

Demonic Words

Scott Bradley

In his comments regarding the wheelwright Pien who dared to declare to his lord, the infamously violent Duke Huan (685-643 BCE), that the written words of departed sages that he was reading were merely the stinky left-overs of their passing (Zhuangzi 13), Mitchell offers this mondo:
Zen Master Kuei-asked his student Yang-shan, 'In the forty volumes of the holy Nirvana Sutra, how many words come from the Buddha and how many from demons?' Yang-shan said, 'They are all demons' words.' Kuei-shan said, 'From now on, no one will be able to pull the wool over your eyes!'
(The Second Book of the Tao)
Ironically, these volumes become demonic only when they are declared to be 'holy'. Until then, they were merely fingers pointing at the moon.

The probably fictional Jed McKenna, 'author' of the Enlightenment Trilogy, comments that whenever he hears someone say, "The Buddha said....", his bullshit meter spikes. More than anything else, this statement endeared me to his books. Just these few words can evince a mind subjugated to belief. This need not be the case, but how often is it?

I have no idea how many of the words attributed to Sakyamuni Buddha are actually his words, but I suspect they are few indeed. If only we could know which ones they are ... we could render them demonic. But we would have already done so, if we believed them to be more 'holy' than any others.

Perhaps you have asked yourself how this might also apply to Zhuangzi. Although I find aspects of every chapter of the anthology that bears his name helpful, I give extra weight to those which are attributable to 'Zhuangzi' himself. The reason for this is not because they were (possibly) written by him, and are therefore 'holier', but because they more accurately illustrate his philosophy which I endeavor to understand. The Zhuangzi reflects many philosophies, and many of these, even those which would seem to be the most dedicated to Zhuangzi's philosophy, deviate from the core teaching of Zhuangzi, namely that our not-knowing is a gateway to transcendent experience. There is nothing 'holy' about this teaching; it is not the Way, or the Truth. It is simply a 'skillful means'.

It is also the case that all words are 'demonic' to the extent that we allow them to take the place of reality. Unfortunately, it is not only possible, but generally the case, that our thinking and being do not coincide. The remedy is not to stop thinking, however, but simply to remain aware that that gap exists. Life is a dialectic; until it is not; if ever it is not.

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 20

Mencius said, 'It is not enough to remonstrate with a sovereign on account of the mal-employment of ministers, nor to blame errors of government. It is only the great man who can rectify what is wrong in the sovereign's mind. Let the prince be benevolent, and all his acts will be benevolent. Let the prince be righteous, and all his acts will be righteous. Let the prince be correct, and everything will be correct. Once rectify the ruler, and the kingdom will be firmly settled.'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Brown, Yes! Black, No!

Trey Smith

A doctor in a white lab coat stands at the pearly gates. The voice of God booms, "And your good deeds?" The man responds, "Well, as a dermatologist, I've been warning people that sunlight will kill them and that it is as deadly as smoking."

His smug smile fades as God snaps, "You're saying that sunlight, which I created to keep you alive, give you vitamin D, and make you feel good, is deadly? And the millions of dollars you received from chemical sunscreen companies had nothing do with your blasphemy?"

A bottle of SPF 1,000 sunscreen materializes in the dermatologist's hand. "You'll need that where you're going," God says.

The scene is part of a training video for tanning salon employees made by the International Smart Tan Network, an industry group. The tone is tongue-in-cheek, but it's part of a defiant campaign to defend the $4.9 billion industry against mounting evidence of its questionable business practices and the harm caused by tanning. And, in an extraordinary touch, it is portraying doctors and other health authorities as the true villains — trying to counter a broad consensus among medical authorities that sunbed use increases the risk of skin cancer including melanoma, the most lethal form.

~ from Can Indoor Tanning Prevent Breast Cancer and Autism? by Bridget Huber ~
You might think I'm going to focus on yet another sleazy corporate ad campaign, but there is something else about the issue of tanning -- however one does it -- that really gets me. In America and many other places dominated by Caucasians, blacks are looked down on. Many whites believe that Negroes are inferior and some really reactionary folks aren't even sure if they belong to the same species as the rest of us.

So, if dark skin is so "bad," why do so many white people spend considerable time and money on getting a tan? If you think about this issue for half a second, it doesn't make any sense!

White people strive to make their skin as dark as possible and then turn around to discriminate against those whose skin is that way naturally. WTF?

Afternoon Matinee: Lewis Black on Why Travel Across Canada?

Huainanzi - Entry 82

Trey Smith

Something desired for its advantages may turn out to be harmful, while something intended to hurt others may on the contrary help them. It is imperative to examine the reversal of benefit and injury, the door of calamity and fortune.
~ a passage from
The Book of Leadership and Strategy by Thomas Cleary ~
There have been many occasions in my life when I have made an absolutely dumbass decision and yet everything has worked out a-okay. On the flip side, I have also made some very well thought out and well reasoned decisions that have blown up in my face.

I know that a lot of people say that we each control our own destiny, but it's not really true. There are too many variables to account for and some of those variables are beyond our comprehension.

For example, an individual could make all the right moves in their life and still die in a horrific commercial plane crash. There is no way in the world they could have known that this particular plane would crash on this particular flight. The person may have been on that flight for honorable reasons, but none of that matters when the plane crashes to earth.

Life is a crap shoot. We don't ask to be born and few of us know when, where and how we will die. Between these two monumental events, all we can do is to try to put our best foot forward. Yet, in our attempts to lead a smart and compassionate life, we should understand that life will take us where it may.

For me, while how one chooses to live in the world is important, what is more critical is how we deal with what life throws at us. It is how we deal with bad situations turned good and good situations gone bad.

To read the introduction to this ongoing series, go here.

Line by Line - Verse 81, Line 11

with all the doing in the way of the sage he does not strive.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The Tao of the sage is work without effort.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

The Tao of sages
Assists and does not contend

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

The Masters always work with people, never against them.
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
Throughout this long series, I have leaned on many to help me wend my way through the Tao Te Ching line by line. The thought and analysis I leaned on most often is Derek Lin, so it only seems fitting to me to end this series with his final observation of this meaningful text.
The positive, uplifting Tao of Heaven benefits all things. The rain waters all plants; the sun warms everyone. In emulating this, we also seek to benefit all people and refrain from hurting them with criticism or contention.
To view the Index page for this entire series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

This Is Your Knight in Shining Armor? (Final)

Trey Smith

In every dimension as president, Barack Obama has proven himself a loyal servant of the global ruling class — bankers, corporate CEOs and oil and gas industry executives, against the rest of humanity. And through his faux-populist rhetoric and crude-materialist presence (black Democrat) he has been able to promote ruling class interests more effectively than conspicuous aristocrats like Mitt Romney could hope to. More to the point, as a trained technocrat, Mr. Obama can avoid the overreach of crude ideologues like Paul Ryan by knowing exactly who his benefactors are. (Mr. Ryan would hit a brick wall thirty seconds into trying to cut the government programs that the ruling class feeds off of. Mr. Obama will stick to de-funding only those who lack social power).

Finally, my condolences to Mr. Obama’s supporters on the coming disappointments should he be re-elected. Sure Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would be ‘worse.’ But should Mr. Romney win there would be less delusion around whose interests any president will serve. The ruling class declared war on the rest of us forty years ago. Mitt Romney clearly represents the ruling class. Mr. Obama does the same with less evident intent.

~ from Meet Barack Obama by Rob Urie ~
As I have stated before (and undoubtedly will state again before the election), the benefit to a Romney win would be that, at least, opposition to corporate greed and autocratic government power will raise its head again. While the 8 years of George Bush were bad for the country and the world, it wasn't near as bad as it could have been.


Because people protested. The masses made enough noise to make certain strategies (like privatizing social security) politically untenable. Bush had to pull back, lest it damage GOP candidates up for reelection.

Under the administration of Barack Obama, the majority of liberals and progressives have chosen to sit on the sidelines. This has allowed Obama to implement many of the things that Dubya only could dream about!

After reading this miniseries, if Barack Obama remains your knight in shining armor, then your hopes for the present and future of the US and world are far different than mine. When he is reelected -- I still don't think Romney has much of a chance -- you will have made [y]our beds and so you better be damned well prepared to lie in them!

Previous parts of this miniseries: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11 & Part 12

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 19B

'The philosopher Tsang, in nourishing Tsang Hsî, was always sure to have wine and flesh provided. And when they were being removed, he would ask respectfully to whom he should give what was left. If his father asked whether there was anything left, he was sure to say, "There is." After the death of Tsing Hsî, when Tsang Yüan came to nourish Tsing-tsze, he was always sure to have wine and flesh provided. But when the things were being removed, he did not ask to whom he should give what was left, and if his father asked whether there was anything left, he would answer "No;" intending to bring them in again. This was what is called "nourishing the mouth and body." We may call Tsang-tsze's practice "nourishing the will."

'To serve one's parents as Tsang-tsze served his, may be accepted as filial piety.'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Monk Speaks on Time

Monk. “There is only now, the past and present can only be thought about in the now and don’t exist by themselves.”

Master. “You see this how?”

Monk. “I see that past and present only have a relative, mentally constructed, reality built from the ‘Now’ and that is all there is…”

Master. “Quiet you fool. Your “Now” only has a ‘relative, mentally constructed, reality’ to your definition of past and present; so exists not for I. I know no past or present because I know no now, I am. Remember who “You” are? You referred to yourself as “I” but I see you were not speaking from the true ‘I perspective’, but from yours as a dumb ‘I the separate independent entity’; seeing not that there is, and can be, no separate entities; or that there is no such “independent thing” anywhere, anyhow; equally like your ideas of “past, future and now” do not exist! How can you waste your “time” to seek to ask who that unreal, “mentally constructed I,” is? Don’t forget that the I that you seek is unknown to you yet, don’t waste time on that you think that you know. That poor dumb I you are seeking to force into your own concepts of, what must be, a false idea of enlightenment also, is the wrong way down the wrong path, useful to you only as I will now tell you this... To see the real I you will have no interest in your ‘mental constructs’. All you have to do is; stop asking questions, ever again!, There is nothing but that which is, and it can be no other way and that is final.

Never mention your stupid ideas of “past and future, or Now”, again.

Bring me tea at 5. Leave me Now.”

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.

Amazing Grace

Scott Bradley

"Amazing grace / how sweet the sound / that saved a wretch like me. / I once was lost, but now I'm found, / was blind but now I see." (John Wesley?)

"For by grace are you saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast." (Paul)

One amazing thing about this song is its appeal across a wide ideological spectrum. I once heard Joan Baez sing it in Paris, on the steps of Notre Dame. It speaks to some awareness in us that transcends its actual theological roots. It often pops up in even Eastern-oriented contexts.

John Wesley's story is likewise compelling. (I'm offline, can't check my facts, and can't be bothered to do so later, so you might want to.) He had been the captain of a slaving ship, so we might think him a good candidate for grace. After his conversion, he fought against slavery and founded a radical Christian group called the Methodists. Yes, they were once considered thus.

So what is this thing called 'grace'? According to Paul, it is the unmerited gift of redemption. It cannot be earned or achieved. It is bestowed unconditionally. It's easy to see how this might appeal to even us of philosophical Daoist and similar perspectives.

Yet, even when laundered of its Christian context, and the condition (?!) of faith is removed, 'grace' does not seem to fit. "Gift" implies a Giver. "Giver" implies a Doer. Yet Daoism understands reality as an unfolding wherein all things happen without being 'done'. We needn't cling to this idea; its greatest virtue consists in its open-ended ambiguity; it is provisional.

Nor do we see any need for "redemption", gifted or otherwise. True, there is the possibility of a greater temporal freedom, but all things equally unfold and return; there is Oneness, and in Oneness all is well.

Yet, 'grace' still somehow appeals. We have a sense of the giftedness of life; thankfulness arises. Trust (contentless faith) would seem to be an organic necessity. We experience wholeness and inclusion without needing to earn it. All that grace implies seems applicable, yet in a way that transcends any and every article of faith. In a way, grace seems more organically a part of philosophical Daoism then it is of religion, where conditions always seem to dwell. All things dwell in a ‘state of grace’; and thus is grace truly rendered ‘undone’ and unbestowed.

Amazing life experience! Amazing grace. Thankfulness arises. Enjoyment flourishes.

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

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 19A

Mencius said, 'Of services, which is the greatest? The service of parents is the greatest. Of charges, which is the greatest ? The charge of one's self is the greatest. That those who do not fail to keep themselves are able to serve their parents is what I have heard. But I have never heard of any, who, having failed to keep themselves, were able notwithstanding to serve their parents.

'There are many services, but the service of parents is the root of all others. There are many charges, but the charge of one's self is the root of all others.

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Stab your own heart


The spiritual quest for happiness in every case creates or is caused by a stark division of mind and self.

An idea of wanting enlightenment, release, happiness, contentment is a terrible disjoint at the core of somebody's being. Where they are and where their mind says they should be otherwise are in stark contrast.

What a pain to have conflict so close at heart!

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

Afternoon Matinee: Lewis Black on Milk

The Advantage To Being An Outsider

Trey Smith

If you have a disability or weakness, learn how to use it to your advantage. Also, do not misuse a strength or talent so that it becomes your undoing. The sage thus appears to have the benefit of unseen forces.
~ a Taoist Daily Quote from Lao Fzu ~
One of the hallmarks of Asperger's Syndrome is the feeling of being an outsider. In many respects, the social world is like a puzzle and, for whatever reason, we haven't been provided with all the pieces. This makes it quite difficult to put the puzzle together in such a way that it makes sense. When we look at the fractured picture, it still looks like some crazy puzzle!

Hold this thought in mind as I share a snippet of Glenn Greenwald's excellent column from Sunday.
One can object to some of its particulars, but Frank Bruni has a quite interesting and incisive New York Times column today about a new independent film called Compliance, which explores the human desire to follow and obey authority.

Based on
real-life events that took place in 2004 at a McDonalds in Kentucky, the film dramatizes a prank telephone call in which a man posing as a police officer manipulates a supervisor to abuse an employee with increasing amounts of cruelty and sadism, ultimately culminating in sexual assault – all by insisting that the abuse is necessary to aid an official police investigation into petty crimes.

That particular episode was
but one of a series of similar and almost always-successful hoaxes over the course of at least 10 years, in which restaurant employees were manipulated into obeying warped directives from this same man, pretending on the telephone to be a police officer.

Bruni correctly notes the prime issue raised by all of this: "How much can people be talked into and how readily will they defer to an authority figure of sufficient craft and cunning?" That question was answered 50 years ago by the
infamous experiment conducted by psychologist Stanley Milgram, in which an authority figure in a lab coat instructed participants to deliver what they were told were increasingly severe electric shocks to someone in another room whom they could hear but not see. Even as the screams became louder and more agonizing, two-thirds of the participants were induced fully to comply by delivering the increased electric shocks.

Most disturbingly, even as many expressed concerns and doubts, they continued to obey until the screams stopped – presumably due to death (
subsequent experiments replicated those results). As the University of California's Gregorio Billikopf put it, the Milgram experiment "illustrates people's reluctance to confront those who abuse power", as they "obey either out of fear or out of a desire to appear co-operative – even when acting against their own better judgment and desires".

Bruni ties all of this into our current political culture, noting one significant factor driving this authoritarian behavior: that trusting authority is easier and more convenient than treating it with skepticism.
You see, naturally being an outsider makes it far easier to be a skeptic. In situations where most people will try to appease authority, Aspies tend to follow the beat of their own drum. In other words, from what I've seen, most of us tend not to be followers, blind or otherwise.

Owing to the advice of Lao Fzu, I utilize this space on this blog to use my so-called disability to an advantage. Being a natural skeptic, it is far easier for me to discern others who manipulate and abuse authority. And, since I am autistic and I don't readily fit in with general society, I don't worry about trying to fit in.

Even though I am a leftist, I can just as easily criticize the actions of Democrats as I can of Republicans. In fact, I am more critical of the Democrats because they pretend to care about the needs of the masses. This is why I am so critical of Barack Obama: he pretends to be a populist when he is really a corporatist!

Line by Line - Verse 81, Line 10

With all the sharpness of the Way of Heaven, it injures not;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The Tao of heaven is pointed but does no harm.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

The Tao of heaven
Benefits and does not harm

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

If you want to get right with Tao,
help other people, don't hurt them.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
How can Lao Tzu write that Tao doesn't harm anyone? We each will die, won't we?

If we each emanate from the One, then all we really do is to change form. From this standpoint, death is not negation. It is merely a different step in a never ending transformation.

If death does not represent an end -- a final point -- how could it then be harmful?

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

This Is Your Knight in Shining Armor? (Part 12)

Trey Smith

Following this abrogation of duty Mr. Obama scammed gullible environmentalists by temporarily halting construction of the environmental end-times northern tar sands pipeline while moving forward with the southern pipeline. There is little rationale for continuing the southern pipeline unless the northern pipeline is to be built following the presidential election. The totality of this project will exponentially increase the greenhouse gases being put into the atmosphere at a time when global warming is unambiguously in evidence.
~ from Meet Barack Obama by Rob Urie ~
Urie is right. The southern pipeline would not be built unless the companies building it were guaranteed (wink, wink) that the northern section will be approved. Without such a guarantee, it wouldn't make a lick of business sense. It would represent far too big of gamble, one that literally would cost these companies billions of dollars in losses.

And this brings up the fact that Obama -- just like Bush before him -- has done nothing substantive to address climate change. The world is staring down the barrel of a gun and yet a Democratic Party administration sits on the sidelines twiddling its thumbs. Actually, that's being charitable as this administration has worked tirelessly to block any sort of world consensus needed to address global warming.

Previous parts of this miniseries: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 & Part 11

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 18

Kung-sun Ch'âu said, 'Why is it that the superior man does not himself teach his son?'

Mencius replied, 'The circumstances of the case forbid its being done. The teacher must inculcate what is correct. When he inculcates what is correct, and his lessons are not practiced, he follows them up with being angry. When he follows them up with being angry, then, contrary to what should be, he is offended with his son. At the same time, the pupil says, 'My master inculcates on me what is correct, and he himself does not proceed in a correct path." The result of this is, that father and son are offended with each other. When father and son come to be offended with each other, the case is evil.

'The ancients exchanged sons, and one taught the son of another.

'Between father and son, there should be no reproving admonitions to what is good. Such reproofs lead to alienation, and than alienation there is nothing more inauspicious.'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Monk Asks Master

Monk to Master…

Q. Who am I?


A. There’s only one of us here!

The one you are is that which is.

As is the Reader.

Q. Where am I?

A. I will refer to the I you still think you are and not that I whom I just told you you were; as if you had grasped my last answer you would not have asked this.

Tell me, are your lungs part of you?

Monk. Of course.

Master. Then may I ask you what you would rather I took away from you; your lungs or all the air?

Monk. I cannot separate them, now I realise master!

Master. No, not yet, listen, you are right in that at least, yet further still; The whole universe; remove or change any element and you will cease to be able to ask me questions. While your lungs seem in fact to reach the extremes of our atmosphere, your true ‘I body’ is the entire universe and is ‘that which is’. That which is outside of all your reason, before space and time and breath and lungs and Where and who am I questions.

Q. Then what is the truth?

A. As that becomes clear you will laugh at how you could ever utter such a question. When it is known, then question and answer will be nothing but lines in a whimsical tale of the monk who realised not. As the truth becomes clear the question and answer are both clearly irrelevant, uninteresting asides to spontaneous living, and I’m going for sandwich.

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.

In Your Face

Scott Bradley

Commenting on a passage from the Chung Yung (14), Mitchell writes: "Living in serenity means being open to whatever life brings. When the Master looks forward, there are infinite possibilities; when he looks back, there is only one. What happened is always the best thing that could have happened because it's the thing that did happen." (The Second Book of the Tao)

Commenting on his comments, he quotes his wife Byron Katie: "When you have what you want — when you are what you want — there's no impulse to seek anything outside yourself. Seeking is the movement away from the awareness that your life is already complete, just as it is." (A Thousand Names for Joy) Mitchell's final sentence above is Katie's summation of her comments here: "What happens is the best thing that could happen."

This final statement goes well beyond my ability to concretely affirm, but somehow I know it to be true, though I'm not sure that we need call it "the best". I have previously mentioned Leibniz’s statement that this is "the best of all worlds"; did I agree or disagree? I forget. I probably basically agreed by saying that what happens is 'right' by virtue of its having happened. This is not a moral judgment, but one beyond morality. "Best", for me, would seem to imply a purposive dimension to reality, something I cannot affirm. Good, better, best ... these are beside the point; "is" is the only point.

I'm going to continue to parse, but before I do, let me again say that the only real meat here is in the words quoted above. There is incredible power there; getting this, I believe, is the end of the matter.

It's all about taking total and unequivocal responsibility for our responses to reality, what happens. What happens is of no consequence, good, bad or indifferent. It's all acceptable. And for we who are not sages, they are "best" in that they are precisely our opportunity, our real and present gate, into serenity. There's nowhere else to look; it's always right here in our faces.

There is so much here that it may seem hard to string it all together. When Katie says, “when you are what you want”, this does not refer to any “you” other than the one that you presently are. It is not a “you” that you want to be, but the you-mess you actually are. You are, just as you are, also the reality that happens. Wanting who you are means being and accepting who you are. Instead of wanting to be someone else, we want who we are. Why? Because we are who we are, just as the world, universe and Reality are just as they are.

There is no fatalism here. Looking forward, there are “infinite possibilities”. Nor is there indifference to the suffering of others. This is only about me and my responsibility. Though one might best relieve the suffering of others by sharing this perspective, there remains the desire to improve their reality. Yet, without the perspective, no improvement could ever be enough.

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


Trey Smith

I may be nitpicking, but the following sentence from an article in The Guardian struck me as odd.
Six US army soldiers and three marines escaped criminal charges but received administrative punishments for mistakenly burning Qur'ans and urinating on the corpses of Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan, US military officials said Monday.
How does someone "mistakenly" urinate on corpses?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 17

Shun-yü K'wan said, 'Is it the rule that males and females shall not allow their hands to touch in giving or receiving anything?' Mencius replied, 'It is the rule.' K'wan asked, 'If a man's sister-in-law be drowning, shall he rescue her with his hand?' Mencius said, 'He who would not so rescue the drowning woman is a wolf. For males and females not to allow their hands to touch in giving and receiving is the general rule; when a sister-in-law is drowning, to rescue her with the hand is a peculiar exigency.'

K'wan said, 'The whole kingdom is drowning. How strange it is that you will not rescue it!'

Mencius answered, 'A drowning kingdom must be rescued with right principles, as a drowning sister-in-law has to be rescued with the hand. Do you wish me to rescue the kingdom with my hand?'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

The zero universe


There are a number of interpretations of the seemingly strange world of quantum mechanics. All versions are mathematically valid and we can't say or rightly guess which is correct:

  • The "many worlds" interpretation says that, whenever two possibilities exist, then the universe splits and both possibilities live out.
  • The "Copenhagen" interpretation says that no outcome is present until a conscious observer looks in. (This is the most widely accepted view in both the fields of real science and, quite by contrast, new age mysticism).
  • The "pilot wave" interpretation says that there is no 'weirdness' and the world is entirely deterministic. Yet to do this it says that there is a little hidden weirdness to the maths. (Though deterministic, this is one of the least favoured by scientists).

There are many more interpretations, but my favourite was recently brought to my attention and it is this:

  • The "zero worlds" interpretation. That the quantum world (that we do not intuitively understand) brought about the classical world that we believe we are within (and so naturally understand). The universe as we see it is classical and so thereby ungraspable as our mind and tools are classical, but the truth we must reach is quantum. That there is no universe at all is a magical perspective and one that my mind and intuition love.
As with my wanderings into Taoism and Vedanta, I very much go for these ideas where there is not even one. Just an infinity at play with no cause or label.

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

Afternoon Matinee: Lewis Black on Duct Tape and Lies

Cheering On a Storm

Trey Smith

I think it must be difficult to be a meteorologist and/or weather scientist. Stable weather patterns are so blase; the real excitement comes from storms! When tornadoes or blizzards appear likely or a hurricane marches across the ocean, there is much interesting work to be done in forecasting when and where severe weather will strike.

I too share this same dilemma. During hurricane season, for example, I feel a great letdown when a hurricane fizzles out or changes its path away from land. I love to track storms on my computer and I always get a kick out of the on-the-scene live reports from impacted areas. Even when I lived in Tornado Alley, I cheered on tornadoes and severe weather.

But the excitement a storm generates for severe weather aficionados like myself exacts a very heavy price. These storms that fascinate us so much can cause massive destruction of property as well injury and death to scores of life forms. To cheer on a storm seems like a very callous enterprise.

I've been following Tropical Storm Isaac since it first formed. Early on, it became fairly certain that this storm would impact land. It brought a lot of flooding to Haiti and Cuba and now has set its sites on the US gulf coast. As it currently stands, forecasters predict it will be a level 1 hurricane when it makes landfall somewhere between the eastern edge of Mississippi and the Louisiana-Texas border.

Personally, I'm a bit disappointed with the forecast. I was hoping for a category 3 or higher hurricane. The powerful storms are more interesting as there are more variables to factor into the making of accurate forecasts.

Another part of me recoils at the idea that I want to see a mega storm hit the US (or anywhere else, for that matter). A category 3 or higher hurricane would cause much destruction as well as loss of life. It's not that I don't give a crap about the people in the storm's path -- I do and I certainly feel for them -- it's just that I like storms.

I know. That's a really pathetic rationale!

Line by Line - Verse 81, Line 9

the more that he gives to others, the more does he have himself.
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

The more they give to others, the more they gain
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

so they always have more to give.
They give away whatever they have, so what they have is worth more.

~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
Again, let's turn to John Lash to sum up the essence of this line.
The closer that you come to Oneness with all things, the closer I come to such Oneness.
To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

This Is Your Knight in Shining Armor? (Part 11)

Trey Smith

The environmental catastrophe of the British Petroleum gulf oil spill found Mr. Obama missing in action in the crucial early weeks, claiming that the government of the United States was impotent to contain the damage (or force BP to contain the damage) for several more weeks, and physically preventing reporters from reporting the damage caused by the spill in final weeks. Mr. Obama allowed British Petroleum to exponentially increase the environmental damage of the spill by illegally disposing of 1.84 million gallons of toxic waste (link) under the guise of ‘dispersing’ the spilt oil. As this was taking place Mr. Obama acted as a public relations advocate for British Petroleum and once the spill was ‘contained’ used government resources to cover up evidence of the crime.
~ from Meet Barack Obama by Rob Urie ~
The environment is one of those core issues that we are told represents a key ideological divide between Democrats and Republicans. The latter supposedly don't care about it, but the former want to protect it. President Obama certainly put this myth to be bed in the manner in which he "handled" the BP Oil Spill!

The way Obama protected BP, at the expense of the people and other life forms that depend on the Gulf of Mexico for their livelihoods, was very reminiscent of the way George Bush "handled" Hurricane Katrina. The big difference between the two was that the latter wasn't caused by an irresponsible corporation; both situations were made far worse by an indifferent government apparatus.

Previous parts of this miniseries: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9 & Part 10

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 16

Mencius said, 'The respectful do not despise others. The economical do not plunder others. The prince who treats men with despite and plunders them, is only afraid that they may not prove obedient to him: how can he be regarded as respectful or economical? How can respectfulness and economy be made out of tones of the voice, and a smiling manner?'
~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

Daily Tao - Clouds of Thought

You are not calming the mind to gain the kind of mind capable of knowing the true self. You are calming the mind so that you can see through it and beyond.

We are not saying to calm the clouds so that with a perfectly calm cloud, you may emulate the sky. We are saying to calm the clouds to witness the sky.

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.

A Good Spiritual Shit

Scott Bradley

Ahhh, that feels better.

There's nothing like a good spiritual shit to lighten the load.

Let's hold our noses and take a look before we flush. Goodbye Brahman. Bye God. Later, Buddha. Thanks for coming Universal Mind. It's been fun, Dao. So long Atman, True Self, Original Nature, buddha-nature, Immortal Soul. Thanks for coming. Thanks for going. Bye. Flush.

As much as I enjoy reading, thinking, writing and imagining things spiritual, it can all get to be too much after awhile. All these heavy, substantive, true concepts start to weigh one down. It's like eating; it's enjoyable and necessary, but unless one also passes most of it, the system breaks down — or blows up.

I can usually tell when I'm getting spiritually constipated; most everything I read is just too full of shit to endure. Recently, I tried to educate myself in Sufism. I couldn't manage to get past the secret teachings for the initiated only in the religion which is no religion because it is the truth in every religion. I just put down a book on Hinduism (Vedanta). I couldn't get past the sacred scriptures which not only guide us, but also guided Brahman before we ever were. I couldn't get past abnegation of self, the negation of the body and its senses, the advocacy of 'right action' and the need to be ‘morally pure’. Etc. It’s my problem; I know this. But why continue to wade in what, to my constipated mind, seems like a sewer of conceptual and religious belief?

And I start to ride a negative wave. Sorry. Time to feed on what I know. Time to suckle on nothing.

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

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mencius - Book 4, Part 1, Chapter 15

Mencius said, 'Of all the parts of a man's body there is none more excellent than the pupil of the eye. The pupil cannot be used to hide a man's wickedness. If within the breast all be correct, the pupil is bright. If within the breast all be not correct, the pupil is dull.

'Listen to a man's words and look at the pupil of his eye. How can a man conceal his character?'

~ James Legge translation via ~
Go here to read the introductory post to this serialized version of the Works of Mencius.

It's Just a Rock!

Trey Smith

So, I'm reading a news story at Reuters about Tropical Storm Isaac when I came across this asinine statement: "The Cuban Meteorological Institute warned the storm could do more damage to the communist island..."

Yes, the government of Cuba IS a communist state, but the island itself is just a rock in the water!

Imagine someone referring to a tree in your front yard as a democratic tree or a tulip in your garden as a feudalistic tulip.

All these various isms are human-contrived artifacts of society. They are made-up distinctions that only we humans recognize. It's like lines on a map delineating separate states or nations. Do you think that the flora and fauna in these areas give a diddly-squat about our imagined borders and boundaries?

Afternoon Matinee: Lewis Black on Airplanes

A Different Way

Trey Smith

As horrific as some of the mass murders have been in the US over the past 20 years or so, all of them pale in comparison to the carnage that took place in Norway last summer. For example, while there was a total of 49 casualties (dead and wounded) during the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007 or 70 casualties during the Aurora mass shooting last month, 77 were killed and hundreds were injured in the attacks perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik.

On Friday, Breivik was sentenced for his crimes. Unlike in the US where the majority of people would consider it a travesty of justice for him not to receive the death penalty, Norwegians appear satisfied that Breivik received an open-ended 21 year sentence. I refer to the sentence as open-ended because, as long as authorities believe Breivik poses a danger to society, he will remained locked up. Basically, he received a life sentence.

But there is something else remarkable about the Norwegian reaction to Breivik's heinous crimes: Many have called for increased emphasis on multiculturalism. This was the motivating factor for the killer's shooting spree. He opposes the embracing of multiculturalism and yet this is what so many of the survivors want the nation to encourage.

In the US, people rarely want to focus on any policy issues that are motivating factors for mass murder. Try to suggest that guns are too accessible, video games and other types of entertainment media promote too much violence or that racism is a plague in our society and far too many people don't want to talk about these issues. They simply chalk up each incident as a separate and isolated case of some crazed individual.

In Norway, their sentencing is more humane and they have set about to address one of the underlying factors. In the US, our sentencing tends to be more harsh and we steadfastly refuse to take a serious look at the underlying factors.

And which of these two nations faces the specter of many more mass shootings in its future?

Line by Line - Verse 81, Line 8

The more that he expends for others, the more does he possess of his own;
~ James Legge translation, from The Sacred Books of the East, 1891 ~

The more he does for others, the more he has.
~ Gia-fu Feng and Jane English translation, published by Vintage Books, 1989 ~

The more they assist others, the more they possess
~ Derek Lin translation, from Tao Te Ching: Annotated & Explained, published by SkyLight Paths, 2006 ~

They're always doing something for other people,
~ Ron Hogan rendition, from, 2004 ~
In a very few words, I think John Lash captures the essence of this line and the next exceptionally well.
The more I help you towards realization of your own nature, the closer I move towards realization of my own.
To view the Index page for this series to see what you may have missed or would like to read again, go here.

This Is Your Knight in Shining Armor? (Part 10)

Trey Smith

To set the public up for his ‘budget crisis’ claptrap Mr. Obama pulled ‘a Clinton’ by appointing a deficit commission stacked with deficit hawks that included none other than Mr. Clinton’s old ‘commission’ standby, right-wing hack and inheritance baby Erskine Bowles, to play the part of ‘Democrat concerned about the deficit.’ Readers may remember Mr. Bowles as Mr. Clinton’s Chief of Staff when he appointed the earlier deficit commission that first recommended privatizing Social Security. Unable to find the consensus needed to put forward a proposal in the name of the commission, Mr. Bowles joined fellow despiser of social spending Alan Simpson to write a faux report to give Mr. Obama cover to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in his second term should he be re-elected.
~ from Meet Barack Obama by Rob Urie ~
This reminds me of an old political debate show on CNN (I can't remember its name). The program advertised itself as representing two viewpoints: liberal and conservative. There was only one problem: the liberal wasn't all that liberal! On many issues, he would agree with his ultra conservative counterpart and often, when they did disagree, it was a matter of degree, not a dispute about the policy or initiative itself.

What this TV program really did was that it featured two conservatives pretending to squabble. By declaring that their perspectives were far, far apart -- they weren't -- it worked to narrow the acceptable public discourse. If a true liberal or leftist had been allowed to participate in their round table debates, he/she would have been considered a heretic!

In this same vein, Obama followed this blueprint by selecting people for the Deficit Commission who already agreed on the basic parameters. The big question they wrestled with was not, should the social security fund be eviscerated, but how deep should the cuts be.

Previous parts of this miniseries: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 & Part 7 & Part 8 & Part 9