Thursday, April 19, 2007

Lao Tzu and the Spiritually of Christ

This quote from Lao Tzu is getting at some of what I was scratching at in my earlier diatribe about Abraham and Moses below.

"People through finding something beautiful

Think something else unbeautiful,

Through finding one man fit

Judge another unfit.


Life and death, though stemming from each other,

Seem to conflict as stages of change,

Difficult and easy as phases of achievement,

Long and short as measures of contrast,

High and low as degrees of relation;

But, since the varying of tones gives music to a voice

And what is, is the was of what shall be,


The sanest man

Sets up no deed,

Lays down no law,

Takes everything that happens as it comes,

As something to animate, not to appropriate,

To earn, not to own,

To accept naturally without self-importance:

If you never assume importance

You never lose it."

--Lao Tzu

There is some of this sentiment in Christian mysticism, for example, in the teachings on not clinging to or looking for results, etc., but there really is a way of going about your business that doesn't put yourself in the other guy's face. Now I am no example of this at all, as I love to rub dog shit on the snout of the dog who defecates in the improper place but not being an example of what I might preach doesn't disenable me to the beauty and indeed, the practical utility of Lao Tzu's thoughts.

I think that Mother Theresa embodied both the splendid teachings of Lao Tzu and the spiritual mastery of Christ in her life. She simply was not interested in grinding any axes. She had more than enough to do pushing her own cart and knew that the results spoke for themselves in a way that words could not. This being said, there is a place for those who defend or want to defend society against the depredations of the devolved. As Lao Tzu also said, "he who sees all men as part of his own body is a sound man to guard them."

It would be interesting to have a better way of describing this sort of wisdom. Any phrases or bits come to mind? To behave in this way is more excellent, more Godlike than almost anything else for it combines charity with knowledge and action with wisdom. One serves without serving oneself or even needing to see oneself in the process as a larger and more sure identity than mere egoism (no matter how well informed spiritually and intellectually) has been assumed. There is a kind of shifting of gears whereby one shunts the ego aside to allow a larger sense of self to come forward and this is, as Aristotle might have indicated, part of the art of living but a very difficult art indeed as it cannot be mocked-up or readily mimicked by the mind: it has to actually be done. Only the will can shunt the chattering demands of local consciousness aside and allow the non-locality of the Divine will to envelope us. And is our locality moved by grace or is grace simply the manifestation of something else, the trailing edge of divine consciousness or our own future identity in God calling us to ourselves?

"Be ye as wise as serpents and as mild as lambs," also comes to mind and indeed the extraordinary example of the life of Christ wherein He who had the power, did not use it as we would have used it, allowed the devolved to revile and crucify Him.

Only those very sure of foot can walk such a path and who but God could guide them?


All of this is entirely true but clearly one of the reasons that the

> Jews rejected Jesus was they were smart enough to know that what he

> was talking about meant a rejection to their claim as the only people

> of God. Even though much of what I have poked fun at is

> tongue-in-cheek, it is this claim of exclusivity that plagues most of

> the main line religions in one form or another. If you have the

> exclusive brand that can only mean that the other guy’s brand is

> inferior. Some of you may well be saying, “well duh” and of course

> that is part of the problem of falsehood and evil in general;

> legitimacy is obfuscated.


> Now I happen to believe that we do have the exclusive brand but I’m

> suggesting that playing the “whooz got the truth” game ultimately goes

> around in circles. At some point the truth has to be demonstrated by

> people who live it. Most good Catholics do this to some degree but

> they lead with their heads, instead of with their faith, and like

> bulls, they lock horns. When Jesus was questioned by both Pilate and

> Herod he did not use arguments to defend himself. (If I recall

> correctly, even Christ called Herod a fox.) At some point, arguments

> have to stop and something larger has to take its place. This to my

> mind is that multi-dimensional modality that we call faith. No longer

> do we simply reside within the arguments of four dimensional space but

> we have an extra dimension that allows us access the Divine more

> directly when intellectual tools cease to work.


> Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son is a marvelous example of

> and testament to his faith but as far as the exclusive covenant with

> God, it is precisely on this point that Christ decisively rejects the


> OF THEIR HEAVENLY FATHER. There is a curious Democracy injected into

> our relationship with God by Jesus. Everybody now has access through

> the new system that Christ sets up but the key to the system is faith.

> The system (the Church) is designed to support the development of

> faith but what has happened to my incredulous eye is that faith has

> been hijacked to support the system. We don’t have faith in the West,

> what we have is a process that incorporates faith into a system and

> essentially minimizes it through a kind of legal calculus. This is no

> argument for Protestantism, nor is it even Theology, it is simply an

> anthropological* observation if you will. (I have this marvelous

> distinction courtesy of Fr. Gruber. All this time I was an

> anthropologist and I didn’t know it. J)


> Jesus laments: “When the Son of Man comes again, do you think he will

> find faith?” I for one cannot answer this question with certainty and

> therein, perhaps, lays my concern.

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