The Tao can’t be perceived.
Smaller than an electron,
it contains uncountable galaxies.
If powerful men and women
could remain centered in the Tao,
all things would be in harmony.
The world would become a paradise.
All people would be at peace,
and the law would be written in their hearts.
When you have names and forms,
know that they are provisional.
When you have institutions,
know where their functions should end.
Knowing when to stop,
you can avoid any danger.
All things end in the Tao
as rivers flow into the sea.
(Tao Te Ching, chapter 32, translation by Stephen Mitchell)
The Onus is On Us
If only powerful men and women could remain centered in the Tao, all things would be in harmony. The world would become a paradise. All people would be at peace, and the law would be written in their hearts. That, my friends, is a welcome change, from my tone in the previous two chapters. I took Hillary to task, in a big way. But she is just an easy target. All powerful men and women are just like her. It is the will to power which corrupts them. Should I cut them some slack? The Tao, after all, can’t be perceived. It is smaller than an electron.
No, I don’t think I should cut them any slack. While the Tao can’t be perceived, it doesn’t need to be perceived. It contains uncountable galaxies; its manifestations are readily perceivable. All one has to do to be centered in the Tao, and to remain centered in it, is to will one’s self to be humble, instead of seeking ever more power.
I am not holding my breath waiting on the powerful to do that, however. They don’t get it. But, we should.
And so, the onus is on us. If we want all things to be in harmony, if we want the world to become a paradise, if we want all people to be at peace, if we want the law written in their hearts, all things, inevitably, have their end in the Tao, just like rivers flow into the sea.
But, we need to know when to stop to avoid danger. They don’t. That is obvious. And, elections aren’t going to change anything. That, too, should be obvious. But, we still need to know what needs to stop, and when to stop, because we are headed toward great danger.
Where there are names and forms, know that they are provisional. And, as for our many institutions? We need to know when it is time for their functions to end.
I know what a tall order this is. Those of us who seem to understand these things, also are quite aware of how small a minority we are in the world. I take encouragement from those who have gone before us, Lao Tzu might call them ancient masters, and describe their appearance. I have taken to quoting their words.
Samuel Adams is one. He encourages us with these words: “It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men.” The purpose of my blog is to be one of those “brush fires of freedom”. And, if I may be allowed to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “I will never, never, never, never give up.”
I hope you, my friends, will, likewise, persevere.