Tao Te – 2

here beauty is enveloped by the ugly
joy is set off by suffering

having walks blind to not-having alongside
difficult and easy vibrate fore and aft
long and short are caught in perspective
high and low are known by the other
voice and sound ring changes within without
front and back circle around around

in such a time of best and worst
wise acts artless
wise saying still
ten thousand choices pile upon one another
no end in sight

create without a result
work without a memorial
act in time and move on
flow is enough

Tao Te – 1′

It turns out I am desire personified. I want to say more about my Tao Te – 1 reflection.

One approach to the Tao Te Ching is to divide or categorize it into discrete sections: Tao (1–37) and Te (38–81). I was not able to refrain from looking at Tao, except through Te. That first jotting replaced an emphasis upon the identity/form/name of Tao with my tendency to control through what is named and what is not. This impulse to name, behind any naming, may bring too much Te to the table of Tao.

I’m about to bring over my signification of G*D (a simplification of a preferred cloud-of-dots advocated by Rustum Roy in Experimenting with Truth) may periodically show up as Ta* — the asterisk always pointing beyond what can be questioned or known or understood. Every definition of Tao or God misses more than it describes. This humility of form is a critical practice.

I expect to find references to Nature and the Feminine (before patriarchy) to be important correctives to our rational, capitalistic context.

Do you have a working definition of Tao and Te?

I’m interested in how to talk about Ta* and Te in mixed company (yes, they are as tricky to define as sex). Each attempted definition probably says more about the speaker than that spoken of. Nonetheless, we do try to make sense of experience. For the moment, my shorthand is: Ta* – Beyond; Te – Ethical Application.

Here I am, stuck in a delightful foreground/background optical illusion. Time to relax my gaze and practice improving my “free-viewing“.

Tao Te – 1

part of the human condition
we keep trying to turn the ordinary
everyday names are elevated
imbued with honorifics beyond their time
hiding ourself behind emperor trees
while trying to reveal our meaning
confusing one in its manyness
an excuse for futile alchemy
cave blindness everywhere we look
no key needed to our own closet

Intro to Tao Te Reflections

Welcome. I am in the process of beginning an 81-day process of responding to the Tao Te Ching as translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English (updated translation, ISBN 978-0-679-72434-6). Initially, this response will restate the stanza format in wesley-ese. I am shying away from adding an interpretive comment at this point. Those may come later, but initially, I am only looking at how the 81 context-setting passages strike me.

It has been claimed that the Tao Te Ching is the book most translated into English, after the “Bible”. [Note: Ching means “book”, and so does Bible.] If you are interested in a direct translation from Chinese, there are many translations available on the internet, or you can purchase the book mentioned above by using Bookshop.org and support a local bookstore. I am making no claim of accuracy or value of my responses in regard to the original – as lost as the originals of other ancient texts.

Note that my reflections are generally done without punctuation. Part of this is knowing that my second and third readings often see another way to connect the words and phrases. I am aware that this can be frustrating for readers. I have found it clarifying to read the reflections aloud. The words’ echo reveals more than the head’s cone of silence. Do add punctuation if it helps the meaning and flow for you. Another part is a note from the introduction of the book I am following: “…the whole of the Tao Te Ching is not readily translatable into any language, including Chinese!” I trust that includes a non-punctuated response. This corresponds to the original publication that included photographs (pictures worth 1,000 unpunctuated words?).

You are welcome to follow along as long as you see fit. I will appreciate any comments or corrections (even an unwelcome spam that might sneak into the comments). If you know someone who might be interested in this project, direct them to wildernessurgency.org and subscribe there.

I am aware of some irony in the active, urgent tone of the WordPress site, begun with Mark’s gospel in mind, and these comments about Tao and Te. Had he caught wind of this project, I expect Lao Tzu would shrug his shoulders and continue on his way secure that Tao is well.

There is an unsubscribe button at the end of every email. No questions will be asked if you choose to use it.

Tomorrow will bring the first response, creatively named Tao Te – 1. I invite you to wonder alongside me.


Tao Te Ching

I am in the process of beginning an 81-day journey with the Tao Te Ching.

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Care for a minority group is a moral issue for majorities. There is no universal solution to the problem of power, which lies at the border between minority and majority.

There is a current issue of whether or not to keep the US Senate filibuster. What started as a way to deal with a legislative timeline of business being completed the same day it rose could use the personal stamina of an individual of a minority view to control the majority.

As time goes along, timelines change, along with a shift from a view to an identity. A filibuster’s major use has been a control mechanism for racial identity politics and enforcing a minority status on Blacks even where they had a majority.

We now have voting blocks that don’t talk to one another. This separation enhances the issue of power over that of a particular view on a legislative matter. There is very little room to operate in a zero-sum situation. Mechanisms that allow political minorities to have a veto mean there is no need to give either compromise or consideration.

Suppose the matter was about identity, then some process could be designed, such as the Uniting Church in Australia granting their Indigenous Peoples a special veto right to stop any legislation that involves them until they are satisfied with it. Unfortunately, political processes are not as clear, and allies shift and reshift.

The current US Senate choice seems to be between keeping a filibuster that protects racism (benefiting the minority) or placing more responsibility upon the majority to be accountable for their decisions (raising the stakes for the majority). Both choices have a tendency to obscure the motivations behind legislation (hiding little nuggets of doom within legislative speak). Neither choice works well in the short-run; they have long-term consequences.

If asked, I would favor getting rid of the filibuster and making the majority party accountable for their decisions. Hopefully, they would consciously and openly incorporate the strong points of the minority. The emphasis would be upon actionable items that can reenergize the “general welfare” of its citizens. Consequences would have to be faced for misreading the facts-of-life.

The standoff between Democrat and Republican parties may have reached the point where both are captive to a desire for power. There seems to be no desire for anything other than a filibuster based on identity politics, grievance, and personal economic power. In which case, both parties will choose the blame game over the risk of responsible governance.

Statute of Limitations

moral responsibility
is not limited
by limits

there is no
statute of limitations
applicable to morality

an ability to care
does find restriction
in common fatigue

such a human condition
time and energy bounded
cannot end in excuse

for ancestoral failure
we must enlist
repentance by descendants

charity is too small a frame
direct action too little too late
moral choice continues

Fractal Background

Two recent articles have been playing in my mind – one on Fractals and one on Background Noise.

Both articles find strangely attracted structures within what at first says there is nothing to attend to here.

Their import includes but goes beyond specific ways in which we shape our lives. I expect there will always be one more window to open and, before that, yet an additional curtain to pull back before even locating a window to open.

I’ll not say more today, in hope that readers will spend a moment with the articles and a moment more to see what they suggest about new revelations in their lives, personal and partnered with so many.