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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Lao-tse was right about a lot of things--except this

It's way past time to stir up some shit, don't you think?

Enjoy this essay from My Rogue Mile, which will be released this fall!


"Common Like a Stone"

OR, IN this case, like a large piece of driftwood found on an unpopulated beach not far from Brookings, Oregon.

I'm referring to something Lao-tse said, by the way. He said the way of mastery in life is to let the Tao shape you, common stone that you are, as it will.

I cherish most of the Old Boy's words, but these fall short of wisdom for me.

A passive stance on life doesn't make you wise; it makes you a suburban. It makes you part of the problem.

Human beings are changemakers. That's who we really are. That most live lives that actively deny or suppress that reality doesn't change the reality. It's a fact central to our spirits, our souls.

A passive life is an unconsidered life is a life not worth a dried dog turd on a hot shingle, no matter how outwardly successful that life may appear to be. A life content to be "shaped by the Tao" is a life that has given up on the essential nature of his or her spirit. Human beings were meant to stir up shit, to live rebelliously, to fight society's forces to conform, and to strike out and forge their own path.

A passive life in this day and age is downright deadly. We as a species cannot, collectively or individually, continue to sit on our asses. Global climate change threatens all of us. Idiot despots like Putin and Trump, to name just two of many, threaten the world with nuclear war, famine, and genocide. The forces of anti-intellectualism, anti-science, blind avarice, and propaganda threaten the world with totalitarianism and fascism. People with consciences see this. People with dynamic, living souls see this. And they fight against those evils every damn day of the week, no exceptions.

It does not matter if you call it the Tao, God, Buddha, Big Kahoona, whatever. We were meant to interact dynamically with it. We were meant to shape it too. It isn't all powerful; it isn't all-knowing; and it isn't even all-present. Our contributions—our rebellion—our refusal to just sit back and let it "shape" us without interference or objection—are critical, both for our own soul's survival, and the continued survival of the species and, indeed, the planet.

In this Dark Age of Trump, we cannot sit back and just "let life happen." That's the stance of the slothful. That's the stance of suburbans. It's extraordinarily dangerous and selfish.

I love the Tao Te Ching. I really do. I regularly read it. Unlike most people, however, I do not read it uncritically. I read nothing uncritically, especially spiritual texts, and especially from so-called "world masters," so named by various herds of humanity. There are parts of the Old Boy’s book I cherish and believe are true. But there are parts that are total crap. I feel no shame in saying so. I am not cowed by a person's reputation. If I come to admire someone, it's because they've passed through the harshest critical gauntlet I can conjure for them and are still standing, even if barely. Few make it. I'm proud of that fact.

I admire Lao-tse. I also admire Jesus of Nazareth. I admire J. Krishnamurti. I admire Meister Eckhart and my namesake, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne. I admire contemporaries (or relative ones) like Keith Ward and John Lennox, Carl Sagan and Albert Einstein. There are others. But not many. That's how it should be.

Suburbanism is passivism. Suburbanism is sloth. The world today cannot handle either. So stop "letting the Tao shape you" and get off your ass and start shaping the Tao!


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