Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Choice

I arrived at my handle, Tao Jonesing, as an ironic pun that expressed my sensibility at a particular moment in early 2009.  On the one hand, I was greatly concerned about the spirituality of mankind, which had led me to study the world's "religions," including Taoisim.  On the other hand, I was greatly concerned about my "wealth," which led me to study economics and, more importantly, modern finance, as exemplified by the Dow Jones industrial average.  The urgency of the spiritual and material worlds met, and my online persona was born.

I must admit, however, that the spiritual concerns soon (and greatly) outstripped the material concerns.  I quickly grasped humanity's limitations and its wonders.  Both are impossible to understand while locked into a Western mindset.  Western philosophy, which informs everything we do in the United States, is rotten to its core because it inherently seeks to mandate reality.  As I've said before, human beings do not experience reality, they interpret it by comparing what is experienced to what is expected.  All Western philosophies seek to control reality by mandating what it ought to be in the guise of describing what it is.  Once human beings accept a particular description of reality for "what it is" they translate that into what reality ought to be, and they innately seek to construct institutions to reinforce that particular reality.

Certainty is the enemy of all mankind, and Western philosophy breeds certainty that is always unwarranted and never unwelcome to the power structure.

I've come to view the description of Taoism as a religion as a mistake.  The Tao Te Jing is a humanist tract, not a philosophy or theology at all, but a coded message regarding the limitations and wonders of humanity.  While I must accept that there is a religion that describes itself as "Taoism," there's no way for me to look at the Tao Te Jing's essential description of human nature and human cognition as a religion.  Whoever wrote the original tract understood what it took for ideas to survive across centuries, and they planned well.  Indeed, they planned well enough to make plain when "priests" stood between the people and the essential truth of humanity offered by the Tao Te Jing (e.g., Western translations often and obviously run counter to the spirite of the Tao Te Jing, which never takes sides; when an English translation of the Tao Te Jing takes a side, that is the side the Western translator took).

I'm not pimping Taoism.  I am not now, nor will I ever be, a religious person.  I am arguing, however, that Taoism cannot be properly viewed as a religion, that it must be viewed as a statement of the human condition, of how things work.

All Western philosophies are a statement of how things are and how they ought to be.  As a result, all Western philosophies seek to define a state, i.e., something static.  The Tao Te Jing describes how things work and, thus, defines a dynamic.

Your choice is to choose between a world that is static and a world that is dynamic.  The vast majority of our fellow citizens have been conditioned to expect a static world, a world with immutable truths and equally immutable falsehoods that leaves no room for the "moral relativism" of a dynamic worldview.  The fact is that the morality of the static world is relativistic in that evil has continually been justified in pursuit of the rigid "morality."  The morality of the dynamic world is always consistent because it recognizes that evil is a label applied to actions, not to people.  Good people do evil.  Evil people do good.  The fact that a "good" person performs an evil act does not make it an act of good.  Neither does the fact that an "evil" person performs a good act does not make it an act of "evil."

Whose morality is "relative"?  Not mine.  In a dynamic world, which is the world in which we live, it is acts that are good and evil, not people.  The only way a person can be judged evil is if he or she consistently acts in a way that is evil.

Actions - not intentions or words-- are what matter.