Chapter of the Week: #72

I see your point, and raise you one… ;)

Maybe I've just been seduced by Dawkins' strong faith in his science and his easy-going writing style - although I can't agree with his current hard-line anti-religious stance

Many on the 'science' side of the fence are fairly anti-religious. I'm afraid that only shows their own bias and ignorance. If one is 'anti' anything, that says volumes about the narrow agenda of that person and nothing about the object of their scorn.

Perhaps the focus we have on reproduction originates with Darwin and amplified with Freud. Sexual matters play a central role in human culture. Our biology drives us on that path. Nature has no need of us to be aware of survival, in principle. Survival is the driving force that motivates all life to live, and do what ever is necessary to accomplish that. Sometimes that means reproduction, sometime cooperation, sometimes competition, and so on.

Correlations helps simplify the view:

reproduction = grows (active, stirs, yang, transitional, illusionary)
survival = exists (passive, stills, yin, constancy, reality)
Also, while I'm not suggesting that our emotions know our survival is taken care of, was my example of squirrels' winter storage not sufficient?

Aren't squirrels driven to store food when the seasons change regardless of supply on hand? The blue jays bury the peanuts I give them no matter how many I give them. The point is, that in the wild there are always limits to supply, so all life is biased to 'over do'. Nature in the wild maintains balance by not providing so much that animals actually end up over doing.

Humans has short circuited this nature's brakes. Through the use of tools, we are able to over do until the imbalance becomes so great that it threatens survival. Obesity, global warming, war, slash and burn farming, specie's extinctions.

The same 'over do' drives people in smaller ways as well. People buy more stuff no matter how much they have, and if they have wealth, they tend to upscale their stuff. The 'squirrel' in us knows no limits. We accumulate, houses are bigger and bigger as opportunity allow. Shelves are filled as our 'foraging' succeeds in greater and greater 'finds'. We drive faster and faster.

Hmm. Not a very good reply really, but I'm just back from work, so I shan't be trawling the internet right now to find support for my arguments. Having said that, taoism really hinges on stopping trawling the internet for information, and instead trawling oneself for truth, so maybe I'll just do that instead.

The internet can be very misleading, even when the information is accurate (which is always iffy). The best use of news, what ever the source, is how it can exemplify human folly, and the by-paths we prefer. In the end, we can't know more than we know. The information we gather simply gives us an illusion that we know. We hunger to know, yet knowing can only come from within. Our base knowing is the reference point from where we interpret that which we see 'out there' in the world. Nothing out there can deepen our 'in here'. That occurs as circumstances bringing us to maturity.


  • edited July 2008
    Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. The Tao Te Ching can be obscure, especially if you think you're supposed to understand what it's saying! We find it easier and more instructive to simply contemplate how the chapter resonates with your personal experience. Becoming more aware at this fundamental level simplifies life. This approach conforms to the view that true knowing lies within ourselves. Thus, when a passage in the scripture resonates, you've found your inner truth. The same applies for when it evokes a question; questions are the grist for self realization.

    Chapter 72
    When the people lack a proper sense of awe, then some awful visitation will
    descend upon them.

    Do not constrict their living space; do not press down on their means of
    livelihood. It is because you do not press down on them that they will not
    weary of the burden.

    Hence the sage knows himself but does not display himself, loves himself but
    does not exalt himself.

    Therefore he discards the one and takes the other.

    Read commentary previously posted for this chapter.
    Read notes on translations
    Now, do it too at Wengu!
  • edited December 1969
    [Note: I italicize phrases I borrow from the chapter, and link to phrases I borrow from other chapters to help tie chapters together. While making it more tedious to read, :? the Tao Te Ching is best pondered in the context of the whole.]

    ‘When the people lack a proper sense of awe, then some awful visitation will descend upon them’ can be viewed in two ways. A literal meaning corresponds to the ‘angry God’ of fundamentalist type religions, Christian or otherwise, that preach a literal form of punishment awaiting those who lack a proper sense of awe vis-à-vis their deity. I reckon this results from an instinctive tribal fear of the alpha male ‘boss’ / 'father figure'.

    Personally, I see this as a description of what happens to us emotionally when we lack a proper sense of awe vis-à-vis [chref=25]that which is naturally so.[/chref] The more we live in a world of expectations and ideals the easier it is to lose that gut level sense of awe. Reality rarely matches our ideals and so we are constantly thrown off balance by some awful visitation of reality.

    Then also there are the very practical visitations that descend upon us because we lacked the proper sense of awe and respect for nature. Global warming is definitely one profound visitation resulting from the lack of a proper sense of awe. I recall being rather upset back in the mid 80’s when it seemed certain we were headed toward this warming and yet I noticed most folks lacked any sense of awe… oops! Why was I upset? I still ‘believed’ in free will. Realizing finally that we have none puts me at ease. Truth is, we only react to [chref=51]circumstances[/chref] – the more dire the greater the reaction. Reacting to hypothetical circumstances no matter how high the probability is neigh impossible. After all, we are simply ‘dumb animals’ like any other :roll: .

    Do not constrict their living space; do not press down on their means of livelihood is a Taoist kind-word in favor of a free market economy. I guess, politically speaking, the Libertarian view would appeal more to a Taoist frame of mind than either a ‘liberal left’ or ‘conservative right’ point of view. Although, I suppose a truly Libertarian system would only work after the people [chref=80]return to the use of the knotted rope[/chref]. I won’t hold my breath!

    Closer to home, ‘It is because you do not press down on them that they will not weary of the burden’ was the basic model I followed in raising my sons. Any other approach generates unintended consequences as they increasingly weary of the burden.

    Now for this weeks translation attempt. Perhaps I’ll do better next time around, i.e., 81 weeks from now. Actually most of it is fine; it is just the ‘Man only not detests, because of this not detests’ that is a bump in the road for me.

    Translated, more or less:
    When the people don't fear power,
    Normally great power arrives.
    Without meddling with their dwelling place,
    Without detesting their existence.
    Man only not detests,
    Because of this not detests.
    Because of this the wise person,
    Knows himself without seeing himself.
    Loves himself without valuing himself.
    Hence, gets rid of one and seeks the other.

    Translated, less than more:
    people not fear power (impressive strength),
    norm (rule, imitate; follow) big (great) power (impressive strength) arrive (most, to, until, extremely).
    nothing (nil; without) be improperly familiar with their place reside (dwell; live; residence),
    nothing (nil; without) be disgusted with (detest; be fed up with) their place existence (life).
    man only (alone) not be disgusted with (detest; be fed up with),
    this use (take; because of; so as to; as well as) not be disgusted with (detest; be fed up with).
    this use (take; because of; so as to; as well as) wise person,
    self (oneself; one's own; certainly) know (realize; inform) not self (oneself; one's own; certainly) see (catch sight of, become visible).
    self (oneself; one's own; certainly) love (like; be fond of; treasure) not self (oneself; one's own; certainly) expensive ( valuable; precious; noble).
    happening (cause; hence) go (get ride of) those (the other) get (seek) this

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