Posts Tagged ‘Tao’

I Don’t Go in for Hierarchy

June 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve been reading the first few chapters of Touching Heaven the last few days. There’s something in it that sticks in my craw.

In a word, it’s hierarchy.

So, first, some context: the book is about Orthodox Christianity, written by a guy who grew up Protestant and later (I assume) converted to Orthodoxy, spent some time with some Russian monks. A lot of what he says is good to my ear: the role of mystery, the way the liturgy makes faith tangible, the pitfalls of a faith that exists only in the vacuum of the mind or the pages of books, the startling experience of God in one’s practice. I like that he puts more importance on silently reciting the Jesus prayer while gardening than on the attempt to climb the rungs of church leadership.

The thing I get stuck on is Read more…


Life Unknown

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

“Corporate and individual human life was lived in an environment affected by the character and conduct, the actions and reactions of these other personal beings. It was important to be informed about what they had to do with what was happening to a person or a nation… At times it was needful to communicate with them and seek to influence their purpose and power” (The Oxford Study Bible, page 165).

Other personal beings: “gods and spirits and demons” (164). Read more…

The Whole Tao

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

If the Tao is the way, I don’t know that it’s the whole way. J. D. Salinger, in the voice of Seymour, pointed out that religion hinges on detachment but poetry on passion, and if you want to practice the Tao you have to go beyond poetry – have to accept the bad verse alongside the good, which Seymour for one won’t do. Anyway, I’ve been wondering. The Tao Te Ching gives many directions on being soft, but, thus far in my reading, says nothing on being hard. Is there not a time for everything? And while detachment is positive and powerful, can’t passion be a positive force too? I know that passion is one of the most beautiful things, and I know there’s a time when embracing, flexing, ceding is not constructive. Does the Tao Te Ching account for this? Or is it willing to acknowledge only certain slices of what we humans are? (It must be bigger than that.)

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Apsu and Tiamat Didn’t Work it Out

February 5, 2011 2 comments

In the beginning there was freshwater Apsu of the abyss and saltwater Tiamat of the deep. When the gods came to exist, Tiamat and Apsu conspired against them, until Marduk, patron of Babylon, fought and defeated them. He cut Tiamat’s body in two. Half of her body became the heavens, and half, the earth. So what began as a world of swirling water ended in a vision of “civilization,” ruled by a champion-turned-king.

Why does the champion become king? Why don’t the people simply Read more…

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The Person They Are

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

I can see why they call it the Tao. I can see why the Bible says God makes it rain on the righteous and wicked alike: everywhere, there is this law, this boarding pass to another way of being, and if you can see it you can have it. I mean, if you do it – if you live by it, touch it, you can rely on it. Is it God? Is it God’s law? Is it one more part of the mysterious fabric of the world we live in – this world that’s so complex and interwoven and teeming with life that there’s no explaining it, no reason it should exist as it does? I know that the Tao is real, that it’s beautiful, and that it transforms things. Maybe I should let go of this idea of God being so… human. Maybe that would help me better understand God for the person they are.


Add and Drop

January 22, 2011 Leave a comment

“In the pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped” (Tao Te Ching, no. 48).

I study The Oxford Study Bible to add to my knowledge. I return to the Tao Te Ching to drop the extraneous. Adding and dropping the right things, adding and dropping in the right ways; this is my balance; this is my practice. I thank the wind for speaking to me, and the light, and this world.