The Bullet and the Foot, Nov 2, 2009

Quote of the Day
The Tao that can be written,
is only an approximation of the Tao.
Any name you can refer to,
is simply a convention.

Words cannot describe the Universe as a whole, as it is infinite.
Words can only describe the finite manifestations of the Universe.

To ponder the infinite requires letting go of the self,
With desire and motivation one will only see the manifestations.

Our reality, though, is made up of both the infinite and the manifestations.
Knowing which you are studying is the beginning of wisdom.

--Lao Tzu
Monday, Monday
Well, once again, here we are. It's Monday morning, and I'm personally looking forward to going to the office so I can get some rest.
About today's Quote
Today's quote is my take on the opening of one of the most perplexing works of literature ever written, "The Tao Te Ching". It's a 2500 year old manuscript attributed to an ancient wise man known simply a Lao Tsu (aka, "The Old Master").

Ancient Chinese being what it is, Lao Tsu could get away with expressing a lot of ideas in very little syntax. For example here are 170 different translations of today's quote into english. And I can imagine old Lao laughing has ass off that scholars have spent entire careers trying to get the wording right on a passage that starts off "and by the way, don't get caught up on the wording."

So let's break down todays quote a little bit more. What exactly is Lao Tsu talking about with "The Tao?" "The Tao" is a word in ancient chinese that means a lot of things in english. But for our purposes, let us paraphrase the Wisdom of Obi Wan Kenobi: "It's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together."

Tao is a different theological architecture than "God". In "God" systems, the Universe is an aquarium. God lives outside of it, looking in. In the beginning, he filled it full of water, he stocked it with creations, we pray he gives us this day our daily food flakes, and we dread the day the he has to clean the tank.

Taoism, instead, sees the Universe as a living thing. And we are all part of the same living thing. The Tao does a lot of stuff that's hard to fathom at our level. And there are those of us who can grasp how it works on higher levels, but trying to explain the infinite in everyday terms is like trying to mail a living elephant in medium sized packing boxes.

Now all we need are three blind men, and a few 50 gallon aquarium tanks full of elephant parts, and we could unify several of the world's religions:

Blind man 1: You aren't taking into account Dumbo's rigid tusklike nature!
Blind man 2: No, you see, Dumbo is flexible like the patch of bumpy rubbery stuff I call "the skin"
Blind man 3: Bah, when you get to the guts of it, the whole darn thing is a system of tubes! And it stinks to high heaven come to think of it...
(All three): I'm right ... no I'm right...

(Cue eye poking, and a bunch of "nya nya nya"...)

Ancient wise men... ancient wise guys... (shrugs)

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