Saturday, December 06, 2003

Whenever I feel in need of a spiritual jello-shot, I just point my browser to the Tao Teh Ching, the great work by ancient Chinese scholar Lao-Tzu. He makes a lot of sense, even to a jaded modern reader such as myself.

"WHEN the world is in possession of the Tao,

The galloping horses are led to fertilise the fields
with their droppings.

When the world has become Taoless,

War horses breed themselves on the suburbs.

There is no calamity like not knowing what is enough.

There is no evil like covetousness.

Only he who knows what is enough will always have

The "Tao" that he refers to is something nearly beyond comprehension, because by definition, it is simply the origin of all life and existence. Taosim does not preclude monotheism since God could conceivably exist and nowhere in the Tao Teh Ching does it say that there is no God. It does say that by trying to assign rituals to spirituality, you are losing the essence of what is pure about your faith.

Failing Tao, man resorts to Virtue.

Failing Virtue, man resorts to humanity.

Failing humanity, man resorts to morality.

Failing morality, man resorts to ceremony.

Now, ceremony is the merest husk of faith and loyalty;

It is the beginning of all confusion and disorder.

As to foreknowledge, it is only the flower of Tao,

And the beginning of folly.

Therefore, the full-grown man sets his heart upon

the substance rather than the husk;

Upon the fruit rather than the flower.

Truly, he prefers what is within to what is without.

There is even a tiny shred of proof that the Canadian way is the way of the Tao!

WHAT is in the end to be shrunken,

Begins by being first stretched out.

What is in the end to be weakened,

Begins by being first made strong.

What is in the end to be thrown down,

Begins by being first set on high.

What is in the end to be despoiled,

Begins by being first richly endowed.

Herein is the subtle wisdom of life:

The soft and weak overcomes the hard and strong.

Just as the fish must not leave the deeps,

So the ruler must not display his weapons.

Since our military is cut off at the knees by lackluster spending and antiquated weapons, our country is weak militarily. Still, we have never been conquered (not even in 1812 when our American friends tried to slip a few thousand troops across the Great Lakes and up the Richelieu) and our place in the world is well respected. I feel much safer with a weak military than I would if we were occupying foreign countries against their will and flexing our might worldwide.