The Logos and the Tao

The theme of today’s posting was suggested by the commentary to the earlier post on “Too Much of a Good Thing”, in which C.S. Lewis’s use of the term “Tao” was raised. I wondered why Lewis, a devout Christian as we know, would have preferred the name “Tao” over “Logos“, since they are equivalent in meaning. A comparison of some of the fragments of Heraclitus (who first used the term “Logos”) with the writings of Lao Tse on the Tao pretty much confirms that the Logos, the Tao, and (in some contexts) the “Dharma” of Buddhism are the same. In the passages cited from Lewis in the comments, you could substitute “Logos” or “Dharma” for “Tao” without any loss of meaning.

It then occurred to me that Lewis had to use the term Tao rather than Logos, because the term “Logos” has been debased and devalued, and has decayed over generations of abuse, having been emptied of value and meaning by reductionism and fundamentalism. It’s a prime example, in fact, of what Nietzsche describes as the dynamic of nihilism — “all higher values devalue themselves”. Although the Logos remains central to the concerns of science and religion in the West, either as the “logico-mathematical” method (or “mental-rational consciousness”) or as the “Logos” of St. John in Christianity (translated as “the Word” or “Christ”), the term has been emptied of all meaning, and to such an extent that Lewis likely felt it was necessary to employ the term “Tao” where he would have preferred to speak of “the Logos”. Lewis, in order to redeem and recover the true meaning of the Logos, had to resort to engage with another idiom — either Taoism or Buddhism — because the name “Logos” has been usurped and corrupted.

I would suggest that this devaluation of the Logos into the merely “logical” (as we understand the logical today) parallels the devaluation of the Whole into a mere Totality, and the collapse of the real meaning of the former into the latter. This is a fateful and fatal confusion since they differ as life and death differ since the very word “whole” pertains to the things of life, while “total” pertains to the things of death (“tot” or Tod being the Germanic for “dead” or “Death”). This is why totalitarian systems are not only deadened, but are really the corpses of a previously vital era from which the spirit (or life) has flown. And this is, essentially, the meaning of Nietzsche’s remark that “the will to a system is a lack of integrity”. That is, essentially, an objection to the confusion of the totalistic and the holistic. In this, our time of a completely haywire or pretzel logic, to invoke the “Logos” would be completely unintelligible to most people.

But there is also risk in Lewis’s invocation of the Tao where he would probably have preferred to say “Logos”. The Tao of Lao Tse is not the Tao of Confucius, and Taoism represented a direct attack on Confucianism. It may be said that Confucius was the spokesperson for Iain McGilchrist’s “Emissary” mode of consciousness and perception, while Lao Tse is the spokesperson for McGilchrist’s “Master” mode of consciousness and perception. (I refer those who might be confused by this reference to Iain McGilchrist and his neurodynamics of “Master” and “Emissary” modes of consciousness and perception to his wonderful and enlightening book The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. (Or, for that matter, Jill Bolte-Taylor’s “Stroke of Insight” which substantially corroborates McGilchrist’s interpretation of the divided brain). For those of you already familiar with McGilchrist, I would suggest investigating this relationship between Confucius and Lao Tse as parallel to that described by McGilchrist as “Emissary” and “Master” and their very different understandings of the Tao as being (basically) either “totality” or “whole”, respectively. In Nietzschean terms, we might say that Confucius aimed for a perfect and total “system”, while Lao Tse aimed rather for “integrity”. The history of China also reveals the influence and struggles of the “Divided Brain” as much as the history of the West.

“The Vision of Christ that thou dost see, Is my Vision’s Greatest Enemy” is also Blake’s objection to the corruption of the meaning of Logos. It’s understandable then, why Lewis would resort to the “Tao”, or why Nietzsche engaged with Buddhism. They are simply fulfilling one of the prime teachings of Christianity: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it“. So much for the “identity politics” that characterises so much fundamentalism these days, and that likewise underlies Gebser’s complaint in The Ever-Present Origin about “Christian sects posturing like ideologies”. Losing one’s identity and being transfigured is precisely “Christian”.

A “Christian” identity politics is just as banal and superficial as any other form of identity politics, and just as much a “Bubble of Perception”. This is why Lewis had to resort to a different idiom derived from Taoism, or explains Blake’s antipathy to religion, as well as Nietzsche’s, who believed also (contrary to the beliefs of most “Nietzscheans”) that Christians could only rediscover or redeem the meaning of Christianity and its values by engaging with other religions. For it is indeed one of the many ironies of Nietzsche that he fulfilled, through his “stare into the abyss”, the principle that “whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” It was precisely Nietzsche’s faith that carried him through the “stare into the abyss” and allowed him to endure and survive it, albeit, transfigured.

Lewis demonstrates, I think, that quality that I find most admirable in the emerging “global soul” — a willingness to forgo a narrow “identity” (Christian or otherwise) and assume the Earth and the entire human experience of the Earth as its own autobiography. “Be true to the Earth!” as Nietzsche also exclaimed. In that willingness to step out of narrow identities (or narrow, and narcissistic, “perspectivising consciousness” as Gebser described it) we begin to see the potential foundations for Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s own project of a “universal history” and a planetary civilisation as the counterpart, or manifest reality, to Gebser’s “integral consciousness structure”.

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41 responses to “The Logos and the Tao”

  1. mikemackd says :

    Excellent points. I have been fascinated by Taoism for the last 40 years. From my memories from my early researches, I think it was James Legge (?) who equated the Tao with the Logos. Back around then, a Tibetan Buddhist scholar friend of mine even used to call me his “Taoist friend”, which naming I declined. But then, as a Taoist I would, because the Tao that can be known is not the eternal Tao, and the name that can be defined is not the unchanging name. Similarly, I am not a McGilchristian, Mumfordian or whatever any more than they could be considered mikemackdians.

    I also read long ago that others translate Logos not as “word” but as “proportion”, in terms of the whole including relations, not just things. But the Tao is not just relations and things. It is the Tao that cannot be known or defined that is the eternal Tao. Let’s not try to define it beyond saying it’s those trillions of processes whizzing by throughout the whole while our left hemispheres pluck bits and pieces from it and gaze at, manipulate, eat, drink, etcetera, them.

    I see the “quarry” of Lewis, Mumford and McGilchrist not as that latter process, but its inbuilt pretensions of omnipotence and potential omniscience, whereas the reality is more as McGilchrist described in that quote (“It is not in touch with the world … It is good for only one thing – manipulating the world …. It reduces the living to the mechanical” etc.). No science-respecting scientist makes such claims today: science id a method of discovering and verifying to the greatest degree possible: a method, not a creed. The creed is called scientism.

    McGilchrist’s quote refers to my left hemisphere, to yours, McGilchrist’s, Mumford’s, Nietzsche’s, Gebser’s, Blake’s, Rosenstock-Huessy’s, Lao Tzu’s – everyone’s. It is not only other.

    So even the title of McGilchrist’s masterpiece – The Master and His Emissary – smacks of a dominator hierarchy (the same dominator addressed so insightfully by Riane Eisler). Except that the Master does not operate the same as our left hemispheres do when they jump up in their roles from our Lucifers as light bringers to our Satans as dominating Masters.

    Which brings me to the optimism of I.W.’s later post on that “Too much of a good thing” string. I agree: the plug he refers to has indeed been pulled. Even in management terms, even within the contexts of Mumford’s Pentagon of Power, the dominator-hierarchy corporate dinosaurs that in Yeats’ day were slouching towards Bethlehem to be born are rapidly becoming obsolete (for example, refer: https://hbr.org/2014/10/the-core-incompetencies-of-the-corporation).

    As a non-Taoist-defined Taoist might say, “Consider the lilies in the field. Drop the pursuit of power; let the Tao. And whenever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them”.

    Redemptions of our Satans, to become our light-bringers once more so we can develop loving kindness in our circles via skillful means – those means constantly developing through broad and deep vision and balanced judgement, with those, too, constantly developing through engagement and learning in that co-evolutionary process.

    That way, we may come to find that, like all myths, Satan and Lucifer never were, but always are: and then they can come home to their Logos within us.

    • mikemackd says :

      I decided to check the attribution I made to James Legge above. My memory was wrong: the translation was by Georg von der Gabelentz.

      However, the search led me to discover a web page which is relevant to my post, at https://www.yaholo.net/the-tao-logos-and-christ/, and a book entitled The Tao and the Logos: Literary Hermeneutics, East and West, (Zhang, L. 1992. Duke University Press). I have now bought the Kindle version: it has a great cover: I’m looking forward to the rest.

      • Scott Preston says :

        The title of the book by Zhang, and the brief blurb on it that I read, brought to mind another book The Quantum and the Lotus by Mathieu Ricard and Trinh Xuan Thuan. Not what you might expect in that dialogue. Ricard is the buddhist (and a microbiologist) while Thuan is an astrophysicist (yet from a Buddhist country). He represents “the Quantum” in the dialogue, while the Frenchman Ricard represents “the Lotus”.

        Similar unusual dialogue is a book I’ve mentioned frequently – Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The Strange Friendship of Carl Jung and Wolfgang Pauli by Arthur I. Miller. That, too, was an unusual dialogical relationship between a depth psychologist and a quantum physicist.

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      As a non-Taoist-defined Taoist might say, “Consider the lilies in the field. Drop the pursuit of power; let the Tao. And whenever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I [also] among them”.

      “Let go and let God.” “Go with the flow.” (Contemporary examples are plentiful. No doubt we are all familiar with them, so I won’t bother to cite any more.)

      On the subject of optimism, the author of an article linked by davidm earlier had this to say:

      ‘Optimism’ sometimes refers to our judgments about the probable future. I have noted that kind of optimism. I cannot share it….

      For those of us fortunate enough to have an optimistic temperament, distinguishing optimism from hopefulness is not always easy. But it is important because optimism may fade while hope remains.

      • mikemackd says :

        > “Let go and let God.” “Go with the flow.” (Contemporary examples are plentiful. No doubt we are all familiar with them, so I won’t bother to cite any more.)

        No, they aren’t the same. I.W. Those injunctions focus on the individual; this one focusses on communal engagement. As I mentioned in the shock of the real string, one gets nowhere just contemplating one’s navel.

        > it is important because optimism may fade while hope remains

        As one of faded optimism, I agree. Even then, one must buy into a lottery to have any hope of winning it.

        • InfiniteWarrior says :

          No, they aren’t the same. I.W.

          I think they are. Why draw an arbitrary line between them?

          I recall overhearing a comment a few years ago along the lines that “the Chinese are set in their ways,” which I thought amusing considering their “Ways” are all fluid. “Go with the flow,” indeed.

          • mikemackd says :

            > I think they are. Why draw an arbitrary line between them?

            I hear you, I.W., but your arbitrary lines are from Jesus, and I haven’t been a practising Christian now for over 40 years. Residual belief, I guess.

            I have always assumed he was referring to two or three body-selves when he made that comment, and was referring to a whole gathering in his name being greater than all its parts.

            The 40+ years have made me a little rusty on Christian theology, though. Perhaps a practising Christian reading this could comment? I guess it’s to do with the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit?

            • mikemackd says :

              > the Holy Spirit?

              Yes, it was that. The Feast of Pentecost was all about it. Silly me.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              > the Holy Spirit? Yes, it was that.

              This is what dogs me day and night about the ill-turns Christianity has taken over the millenia. Nearly every Christian I know “worships” Jesus (if they don’t “worship” the Bible) when Jesus himself purportedly said, “there is one who will come after me.” He was referring to the “Holy Spirit,” in the Christian tongue, which I’ve heretically and blasphemously come to term “the Wholely Spirit” in Christian (and other) company, yet we rarely hear Christians refer to “the Holy Spirit,” as Lewis did, using the term, “Tao”.

              The is ‘the Force’ that “binds the galaxy together.” (Yes, I’m quoting Yoda. So, sue me.) This is Bolte-Taylor’s “life force power of the universe.” This. This is “the Tao.”

              Pardon my personal experience breaking ranks, but a brief memory, if I may….

              I broke for lunch one fateful day and met my employer (an Armenian Christian) and his good friend and business partner (a Muslim) in the kitchen. As per usual (when the talk wasn’t about politics), the talk was about religion, the suggestion being made that the major difference between Christianity and Islam is that Christians believe Jesus was the one and only “son of God” whereas Muslims don’t, to which I piped up, “Yeah…. Jesus was the ‘son of God’…and you’re a ‘son of God’ (pointing at my employer) and you’re a ‘son of God’ (pointing at his friend) and I’m a ‘daughter of God’. My employer gasped; his Muslim friend dropped his fork; I got my coffee and left the room.

              As far as I’ve ever been concerned, the “big three” (as well as all others) express the same message — the brother-sisterhood of “Man” — in different languages…languages to which the cultures from which they sprang understand and can relate. I’ve never seen them as anything other than complementary. The differences are cultural. That’s it. Our ideologues would make them otherwise, but…well, you all know how I feel about ideologues.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I understand you’re referring to what is presently termed “the social gospel,” but why would it be any different for an “individual”? There is far more to a person than “the sum of his parts.”

            • mikemackd says :

              As I said, I am with you as to your point concerning parts of wholes, but not where you want to take it, or why.

              I don’t know of any other parts of an individual that have two brain hemispheres in them, or whether any other of my parts besides those consider themselves to be individuals. Nor do I see any big squishy communal brains out there.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Where and why is that?

              I’m trying to understand why you (et al) think Jesus’ statement applies differently to groups than individuals.

              Please bear in mind, the term, “individual,” doesn’t necessarily imply “individualism.” Note the root.

            • mikemackd says :

              There’s a Christian writer who died recently whom I greatly respected. He died in 2010: his name was Raimundo Panikkar . He wrote many books, but I have only read one of them cover to cover; it was called “The Silence of God: The Answer of the Buddha. (1989, Orbis Books).

              If you go to his Wikipedia article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raimon_Panikkar (which omits many of his accomplishments) you will see that in the year of his death he wrote the following on his withdrawal from public life:

              “Dear Friends . . . I would like to communicate with you that I believe the moment has come, (put off time and again), to withdraw from all public activity, both the direct and the intellectual participation, to which I have dedicated all my life as a way of sharing my reflections. I will continue to be close to you in a deeper way, through silence and prayer, and in the same way I would ask you to be close to me in this last period of my existence. You have often heard me say that a person is a knot in a network of relationships; in taking my leave from you I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having enriched me with the relationship I have had with each of you. I am also grateful to all of those who, either in person or through association, continue working to spread my message and the sharing of my ideals, even without me. Thankful for the gift of life which is only such if lived in communion with others: it is with this spirit that I have lived out my ministry.”

              “A person is a knot in a network of relationships”; “the gift of life which is only such if lived in communion with others”; that network is where I take the Holy Spirit is to be sourced in Christian; in communion.

              I went to that Wikipedia entry because it was in a book of essays written in tribute to him and forwarded to me through his friend Salvador Harguindey that I first came across what I first thought of when considering how best to reply to your question. It’s from Spanish poet Ricardo Molina in his “Respuestas”:

              What if
              In the very question the answer hid?
              What if
              In the divine silence were heavenly acquiescence?
              What if
              The inquiry itself were our salvation?

              I thought of that because of your distinction between individuals and individualism.

              In a string now long ago here, I quoted Walter Russell Mead’s observation that “the more frustrations we have in life and the more we are infuriated by humiliations, then the more we project our narcissistic requirements of grandeur to such collective dimensions of our identities” (Mead 2007, God and Gold, London, Atlantic Books pp. 387-390). I have also quoted Jung’s insight that “where love reigns, there is no will to power, and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking; one is the shadow of the other.”

              That’s the fountainhead of individualism. But that’s the shadow of where love reigns, where is no will to power; that’s the fountainhead of communion.

              And that’s why.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              I have also quoted Jung’s insight that “where love reigns, there is no will to power, and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking; one is the shadow of the other.”

              When the power of Love overcomes the love of power,
              the world will know peace. ~ Jimi Hendrix

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              That covers the social aspect (as Jesus’ statement does), but doesn’t really answer the question pertaining to the “individual” or why “injunctions to the individual,” as you put it, should not be included in our deliberations here, especially considering the subsequent link you shared that illustrates the “individual” aspect quite well. (I can see where the confusion between the two aspects came in as I jotted off the question as I raced off to work. My apologies.)

              The reason I ask, is that I’ve run across far too many communities, forums, posts, etc. that would eliminate the first person in favor of the third — that is, those that devalue the “individual” altogether in a way that suggests a single person is of no import whatsoever. I find the ramifications of such thinking quite disturbing and, while I sincerely doubt that’s what you have in mind, the two examples of popular expressions I initially provided (“Let go and let God” and “go with the flow”) are sentiments shared by many “individuals.” While few will ever ask what is meant by such expressions, among others, (99% assuming and presuming the worst instead), I find them not only most beneficial and widely applicable in a variety of cultures. Do personal relationships with “the Tao” count for nothing?

              I was raised in the Christian tradition and one of its most important “injunctions,” as I recall, was the development of a “personal relationship with God.” I realize a great many Christians repeat that injunction with no notion of what it means, as anyone who actually develops one may find themselves unwelcome in the Christian community before long.

              My original question stands: Why draw an arbitrary line between these two aspects? Or are you simply making a distinction and emphasizing one over the other?

            • mikemackd says :

              > That’s it.

              I agree. And that it’s not to be named.

              Oh, from the Chandogya Upanishad:

              Other it is, for sure, than what is known
              Beyond the scope of the unknown, too.
              So we have learnt from men of old
              Who instructed us therein.

              That which thinks not by the mind
              By which, they say, the mind is thought
              That is Truth
              Not that which is worshipped here as such.

            • mikemackd says :

              As RaimundoPanikkar put it in “The Silence of God”:

              If a question is ill posed, ill stated, if the premises from which it issues cannot be accepted – then a direct answer to it will automatically be tantamount to falling into error (Panikkar 1989, p.11).

              The answer to your question as posed, “Why draw an arbitrary line between these two aspects? Or are you simply making a distinction and emphasizing one over the other?” would be tantamount to falling into error. It’s neither, as I thought my point about there being do squishy big brains et al. would have made clear.

              However, indirect answers can be far more enriching, both for the questioned and the questioner.

              The Buddhist Jack Engler once said, you have to be somebody before you can be nobody”. Long ago, in a chat room far, far away, I added that you have to be somebody before you can be everybody.

              How does one get to be somebody? Does one construct one’s individual identity, does one find it, or is it a bit of both?

              Back to Stewart and Cohen, who I referenced before about simplex, complex and multiplex minds (and added that they missed the role of values in framing where any of those minds search in the first place).

              They began by asking, “What is the most important thing in the universe?” They then state that any mind that gives an answer to that is a simplex mind, taking as sufficient an answer utterly insufficient to address the complexities involved. Many religious leaders and politicians focus at this level (Stewart, I. and Cohen, J. Figments of Reality: The Evolution of the Curious Mind, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press 1997, p. 291).
              When it comes to identity matters, “a simplex mind cannot cope” (ibid, p. 296), and simplex vocabularies are not up to the task either. They didn’t say that in relation to identity construction/finding process, but about the far less complex issue of scientific research: “simplex management of scientific research is futile and counterproductive … our scientific extelligence will fall apart if research is allowed to be managed by simplex minds” (ibid, p. 296). In distinction:

              A complex mind can perceive the many intertwining strands of cause and effect that combine, within some consistent worldview, to constrain and control the unfolding of a particular selection of events. Complexity is a state that is inaccessible to the vast proportion of the human race, but as the global village shrinks, more of us take the complex view. Rarer still is the multiplex mind, which can work simultaneously with several conflicting paradigms. It sees not just one interpretation of reality, but many, yet it sees them as a seamless whole. Such a mind is untroubled by mere inconsistency: it is comfortable with a mutable, adaptive, loosely coherent flux … (Stewart and Cohen 1997, pp. 289-90).

              Simplex minds can’t cope with that, so they go for some off-the-shelf, pre-manufactured, KFC like mass product, with the results Don Salmon speaks of below. Or they find a bolt hole in the megamachine, becoming like Mumford’s organization man. That is, not real ones, just ten year-old’s ideas of ones.

              So it depends on what you mean by an individual: are you referring to a simplex, complex or multiplex-minded individual?

              The answer to your question varies as to which.

            • mikemackd says :

              Reflecting on the above, I thought Mumford may have – once again – said something apropos in something I had read recently. This from pp. 14-15 of The Conduct of Life:

              QUOTE:

              The contents of modern man’s daydreams too closely resemble those of Bloom in Ulysses, filled with the dead tags of newspaper editorials, the undigested vomit of advertising slogans, greasy crumbs of irrelevant information, and the choking dust of purposeless activity. The duty to become part of this chaos, to keep up with it, to accept it internally, is the bitter duty of modem man — most adequately described and analyzed by Waldo Frank, in his description of The American Jungle, in The Rediscovery of America. Unfortunately, the more busy the mental traffic, the emptier becomes the resultant life: therefore the more abjectly dependent the individual atom in this society becomes upon the very stimuli which —though they have, in fact, caused his emptiness — divert his attention from his plight.

              Such a mechanical routine results in a loss of self-confidence and self-respect that few primitive communities would countenance: indeed, the “machine-herd,” as we should properly call this passive creature, is a poorer animal than the stolidest cow-herd, largely because he “knows so much that ain’t so.” Hence the current spread of quackery, superstition, fanaticism, comparable to that which marked the decline of the Hellenic and Roman order: a growing tendency to gamble and to believe in Chance as the supreme Goddess of human destiny: the erratic Wheel of Chance being the only possible happy alternative to the undeviating iron rails of Fate, on which a declining civilization helplessly rolls.

              Unable to create a meaningful life for itself, the personality takes its own revenge: from the lower depths comes a regressive form of spontaneity: raw animality forms a counterpoise to the meaningless stimuli and the vicarious life to which the ordinary man is conditioned. Getting spiritual nourishment from this chaos of events, sensations, and devious interpretations is the equivalent of trying to pick through a garbage pile for food. Even those who have direct access to the kitchen do not get properly fed. Our leaders are themselves the victims of the very system they have helped to create. What Dr Sheldon has called “psychological overcrowding” is the typical mischief of Western civilization in its present aspect. As a result of our very ingenuity in inventing reproductive and manifolding devices, even the economy of a stable, abstract medium like print has been lessened; a clumsy concreteness retards the whole process of thought, and we are as much handicapped by an excess of data as by a lack of it. So instead of producing a new gain of time and energy for the consummations of life, our uncontrolled mechanization has made it necessary to spend a larger part of the day on the preparatory means. Final results: a surfeit of tasks, interests, stimuli, reactions: an absence of valuable order and purpose.

              In the end, such a civilization can produce only a mass man: incapable of choice, incapable of spontaneous, self-directed activities: at best patient, docile, disciplined to monotonous work to an almost pathetic degree, but increasingly irresponsible as his choices become fewer and fewer: finally, a creature governed mainly by his conditioned reflexes — the ideal type desired, if never quite achieved, by the advertising agency and the sales organizations of modem business, or by the propaganda office and the planning bureaus of totalitarian and quasi-totalitarian governments. The handsomest encomium for such creatures is: “They do not make trouble.” Their highest virtue is: “They do not stick their necks out.” Ultimately, such a society produces only two groups of men: the conditioners and the conditioned; the active and the passive barbarians. The exposure of this web of falsehood, self-deception, and emptiness is perhaps what made Death of a Salesman so poignant to the metropolitan American audiences that witnessed it.

              Now this mechanical chaos is plainly not self-perpetuating, for it affronts and humiliates the human spirit; and the tighter and more efficient it becomes as a mechanical system, the more stubborn will be the human reaction against it. Eventually, it must drive modern man to blind rebellion, to suicide, or to renewal: and so far it has worked in the first two ways. On this analysis, the crisis we now face would be inherent in our culture even if it had not, by some miracle, also unleashed the more active disintegrations that have taken place in recent history.

              UNQUOTE

              He was referring to “recent history” as of when he wrote that book, which was in 1951.

              I would say Mumford’s mass men (by which in the vocabulary of the time, meant both men and women) “incapable of choice, incapable of spontaneous, self-directed activities” only possesses Stewart and Cohen’s simplex minds. I would also say that for me, Stewart and Cohen or anyone else to brand some person as possessing only a simplex mind would itself be simplex, and beside the point. The point is to set to: not to blind rebellion, not to suicide; but to set to renewal.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              The duty to become part of this chaos, to keep up with it, to accept it internally, is the bitter duty of modem man…. Getting spiritual nourishment from this chaos of events, sensations, and devious interpretations is the equivalent of trying to pick through a garbage pile for food.

              Funny you should mention that. We referred to this as dumspter- and pearl-diving in TDAB days. Most apropos. Thankfully, when we tire of rummaging around on the ocean floor in search of pearls, we have the capacity (and presence of mind) to resurface for air.

              are you referring to a simplex, complex or multiplex-minded individual?

              I don’t think there is an individual who can be classified as any of these.

              The Four Layers of Consciousness.

            • mikemackd says :

              > I don’t think there is an individual who can be classified as any of these.

              Good answer. I agree. They are classifications of cognitive complexity (which have been more developed by Michael Lamport Commons), a long way from consciousness as a whole.

              In fact, I had written a reply to Don before going off shopping. Further: I don’t think it’s either our business or our competency to classify any other individual at all. Sure we have to for heuristic purposes, as workingn hypotheses, but if we think people are tucked up inside our mental enboxings, we are not just impertinent: we are delusional.

              BTW I couldn’t get your link to work.

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Oopsie. Here it is.

      • mikemackd says :

        After my Panikkarian posts I logged off, logged back on, and found this link from Resilience along similar themes:

        http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-06-26/deep-ecology-system-change-head-heart-hand/

    • InfiniteWarrior says :

      I quietly, and simply, dropped it. No revulsion; no rebellion; just a setting aside.

      Refreshing. Most people make a huge drama of this. Mine was a strict and constricting Independent Baptist upbringing, which I felt I naturally and gradually grew out of in a sense. No harrowing “escape;” no suffrage; no “permanent damage.” I just drifted away from it, that’s all, and still consider myself partially Christian in that I retained that which resonates as true and discarded that which does not.

      In virtually every interfaith dialog I’ve seen, inevitably, the holdouts are the Christians – intolerant even in their tepid tolerance.

      Holdouts in what sense, if I may ask? That Christians are participating in interfaith dialogue at all I take as encouraging sign, unless of course they happen to be participating in an effort to gain “converts.” <_<

      Most Christians — but far from all — I personally know are "self-styled"and tend to be far easier prey to the poisonous influence of the Tim LaHayes and John Hagees among us than their more self-disciplined counterparts, but I've thankfully been introduced (especially since locating TDAB) to a number of Christian communities (though none local, so far) that I feel are on the right track.

      Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater. The Christian community is not entirely comprised of dogmatic fundamentalists. In fact, I get the distinct impression that the influence of the "dominator-hierarchy…dinosaurs" (to borrow Mike's phrasing) is not only on the wane, but completely on its way out and not just in the corporate and religious spheres.

      Could be wrong.

  2. donsalmon says :

    mikemackd, I’m now thinking of becoming a mikemackd’ian!

    I had the same notion (if i understand you correctly) that you expressed in your initial post about the Tao being the Word/Logos and yet far “more” (it’s not quantitative, of course) – the eternal Tao, THAT which cannot be named (yet, which can be named!)

    The equivalent in Sanskrit is Rta – the Cosmic harmony. Of course, Rta is not “different” from the Brahman, but it’s not the same as Brahman either.

    Similarly with the Tao and the Logos. Not same, not different (or to follow Nagarjuna, it is not the same, not different, not same and different, and not not same and not different.

    mikemackdians unite! (wait, aren’t we already?)

    • mikemackd says :

      ;-). Nagarjuna’s insight makes us donsalmonians as well as mikemackdians, and Chrysalisians.

      Which is cognate with my Panikkarian answer to I.W. above.

      “Chrysalisians”: I rather like the sound of that.

      • donsalmon says :

        Mike, I believe the proper term would be Prestonian Chrysalisians.

        or not.

        • mikemackd says :

          Maybe “Prestonians”, then: I don’t think Scott means us to be in our chrysalides forever ;-).

          • Scott Preston says :

            Let’s not go there please. No “Prestonians”. No “Prestonian Chrysalisians”. Don’s “or not” is the best choice.

            • mikemackd says :

              Agreed; and no mikemackdians, either, Don. 😉

            • donsalmon says :

              now wait a minute, did you know in the original gaelic “Donald” means “world-mighty”? (boy my big brother never let me forget that one when I messed up as a kid).

              And you surely know Donald Trump once said, “I look at myself when I was 6 years old and think, ‘you know, i really haven’t changed at all since then.'”

              Not sure why, but that seems like an appropriate end to this particular sub-thread.

    • donsalmon says :

      Interesting book, but really, Lao Tzu as the precursor to Christ. Like everything else, every other teacher, was just kind of treading water until the “real” thing came along.

      The thing that’s so interesting about people who call themselves Christians, is that Jesus was never one. He never (at least, if you take his language to be similar to the way Krishna talks in the Gita) proclaimed “Jesus” to be the only way, he said, “I AM” the way.

      I have no problem with people who find God through Christ. I do not have a Christian background and was not raised in a Christian community (at least, not to my knowledge – if anybody can find God in Bergen County, New Jersey, let me know:>)) I just don’t find the Jesus of the Gospels (even the Gospel of Thomas) that personally appealing. If others do fine, but don’t force me or anyone else to accept your way.

      I fell in love with Krishna when I read about his mischief making. One day, he was playing outside in the mud, and his mother saw him putting some mud in his mouth. She ran out to reprimand him, and as she approached, he laughed, and opened his mouth wide, and she saw the whole universe in his mouth.

      How can you not love a kid like that?

      • donsalmon says :

        And the other thing I forgot to mention – I’ve looked at interfaith dialog for decades. People think Muslims are close-minded. In virtually every interfaith dialog I’ve seen, inevitably, the holdouts are the Christians – intolerant even in their tepid tolerance.

        Father Leonard used to wink at me when I played the organ for baptisms at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Spanish Catholic church in downtown Manhattan. He’d come to the line thanking God that the child had not been born into the Protestant faith, for which the child would have had to spend an eternity in hell. He’d also always say “Shalom” during the “prayer of peace” as everyone in the church walked around shaking hands saying “la Paz” (or la Paz de Cristo).

        But Father Alphege (a Greek and Latin scholar, lover of Mary and deeply mystical) knew how dogmatic and fundamentalist the Catholics were. He died a lonely death – in a way I can’t relate in public but very much related to the misogynistic, dogmatic, cult like nature of the (very much Holy Roman) church.

        Age of duplicity, indeed.

        • mikemackd says :

          Don, I was raised a Roman Catholic by my widowed mother but, as alluded to recently, grew disturbed by much I observed in it. After she died I did not rebel against it, but about a decade later I quietly, and simply, dropped it. No revulsion; no rebellion; just a setting aside.

          I must have mentioned here before the distinction between holons and artefacts. I know you know it, but I’ll repeat it here for any reader that may not. All living processes are what Koestler dubbed “holons” – wholes in themselves, but also parts of the living complex whizzing past as we read and write. Right hemisphere domain. Artefacts, like this computer I am typing into, are not alive, but may be designed, built and used by the living for their extrinsic value. Left hemisphere domain.

          I consider the Roman Catholic Church as an artefact, a manifestation of Mumford’s megamachine. While it has dogmas, they are also mere artefacts. As an artefact, the Church is no more holy than a pipe. Similarly, when we pledge to football teams, nation-states et al, we are pledging to artefacts: machinery. Whether an artefact is used for holy or profane purposes depends on its holonic-users who, in its case recognise the Pope as the Vicar of Christ on Earth. As such, they presume him to be holy, capable of facilitating communion, as in Pentecost.

          Jesus said, by their works ye shall know them, and I go along with that. I mentioned above we have no right to enbox others as merely simplex thinkers: because they seem simplex to us in one development line does not mean they do not have a multiplex level on understanding along another. And thinking ability is only like the horsepower of a car; its value lies in where it gets one. That is, while it has intrinsic extrinsic value, that says nothing at all about where it is being driven: for instance, to blind rebellion, to suicide, or renewal. It can be driven towards renewal, towards increasing one’s intrinsic value though, and by their works we shall know them.

          We live in a heuristic soup with both toxic and healthful ingredients. Catholic dogmas contain many such heuristics, and those we adopt, and those we discard, are both causes and symptoms of our interplays of values and thoughts.

          For examples of the toxic, see:
          https://www.spirituallysmart.com/Vatican%20Policy%20in%20the%20Second%20World%20War.pdf

          I know nothing of this, so cannot comment on its veracity. But I can say that it is consistent of some aspects and people I encountered in my Catholic boyhood, but also completely opposite to other aspects and people, some of whom I consider the finest of have found so far.

          • donsalmon says :

            Hi, I got a response from IW in my inbox but can’t find the post here. He asked me (us?) to note that not all Christians are fundamentalists.

            Yes, forgive me for my rant. “holdouts” (I said in interfaith dialog I have seen, and participated in, the most recalcitrant in terms of acknowledging there just might be some universal spiritual truths – the “holdouts’ – have generally been Christian.

            But as a profound contrast, I should have mentioned that Jan (my wife) and I are leading contemplative practice groups at the Haw Creek Commons in Asheville (did I mention this here before? apologies if I went through all this in some previous post).

            The Missional Wisdom Foundation, based in Dallas with branches in Portland, OR, Atlanta and Asheville, is a methodist group exploring 21st ways of creating community. The Commons is next door to Bethesda Methodist Church. The HCC (Haw Creek Commons) “mission” is to provide a community meeting place for seven thousand households in Asheville. I heard about this late last year, and they kept using the word “contemplative” but had nothing that was directly oriented toward developing contemplative awareness.

            So i proposed having a weekly (now biweekly) session. In order to make it accessible to people of all and no faiths, we proposed basing it in “contemplative neuroscience.” I thought the large group (25 or so) of Methodists who were in the planning sessions this past February would balk, but to my amazement, they welcomed it.

            The problem at the moment is, my idea was that once everything got started at the Commons, we would serve as a “contemplative resource” but nothing is up and running yet. We’re going to stop in August, and if sometime next year, when things are ready, they’re still interested, we might step back in.

            As of now, they’re planning a co-working group, a professional kitchen for chefs in restaurants in the area, a mindful eating group, organic garden, beekeeping, games and activities for children, a performance space, art studio, yoga space, a 10 room retreat center for theology students for intensive weeks of study, and a half dozen more at least. All allegedly with a contemplative basis.

            Meanwhile, the 5 sessions we’ve done so far have been wonderful.

            So, after that long interlude, yes, IW, Christians are doing some amazing things. The head of Missional Wisdom appears to be a great fan of Cynthia Bourgeault’s nondual Christianity, and of de Chardin’s evolutionary spirituality, as well, so this is “not your father’s Christianity!”

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              You have mentioned it before and I so wish I could be there. :/ The churches around these parts still seem to be stuck on that whole “evolution vs creation”…thing. lol

            • donsalmon says :

              you’re two hours away? Take a trip one evening!

            • InfiniteWarrior says :

              Easier said than done, atm, but — guaranteed — I will be back there at some point, if I die trying. 🙂

  3. mikemackd says :

    Last night, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation program had a feature about Taoism. It was about a book by the interviewee, James Miller from Queen’s University Ontario, describing it as China’s Green Religion, which could play a major role in China’s approach to climate change:

    https://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/pgA63lk2YV

    • mikemackd says :

      On his Amazon page, James Miller describes himself as wanting to help construct “new modes of thinking and valuing that can contribute to a sustainable and flourishing future for our planet”. Sounds like my kinda guy.

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