Where does the fault lie?

Where does the fault lieThe fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves. That bit of Shakespeare speaks to our ‘modern’ paradigm beginning with the Renaissance that emerged out of the so called Dark Ages. In some ways, I’d say this is a two steps forward, one step backward deal.

Now, it’s not that the stars actually determine our fate as the ancients thought. The ancients simply lacked an understanding of what makes life tick, and so attributed cause and effect to the stars.

Similarly, karma is a practical way of accounting for the transference of genetic information from one generation to the next. The bible also hints at this, “He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations (Exodus 34:6-7).

The life sciences in particular help us understand life better now; that’s the two steps forward part. This era also embodies the self-centric and even somewhat arrogant view that “I”, “you”, and “we” are in control. This one step back illusion is no doubt aided by our increasing ability to control the physical world through science and technology…  iron guns, sailing ships and railroads, followed by the tools which harnessing  electricity enables… autos, airplanes, refrigerators, computers, atomic bombs, space travel, etc.

Our biggest mistake

Imagining realities that don’t conform to nature blinds us. Certainly, there is no way to know exactly what does or doesn’t conform to nature. All the great inventions come out of imagining a reality that up to that point was not seen as part of nature. However, for every leap of understanding there are countless misunderstandings that if we’re lucky only end in dead ends. More often than not we end up shooting ourselves in the foot. We understand now that people born blind or crippled can’t help it. They are naturally handicapped in that way. We’ve yet to understand that we are all naturally crippled cognitively speaking… even though the Taoist teachings spoke to this handicap millennia ago.

Knower not think, thinker not know

All this is perfectly in line with chapter 71′s, Realizing I don’t know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease. The stories that issue forth from thinking preclude knowing. Thinking requires details: words and names. That center of attention makes seeing the big picture impossible, and naturally so. The best that thinking can do is report back some elements of what we know. However, that reporting is biased in that it can’t help but leave behind most of the knowing.

Obviously true knowing is a deep mystery. Thinking merely skims the surface of what we know. All the rest is left behind in the dark recesses of profound sameness, for lack of a better word. Thinking for the most part is simply the smoke that issues forth from emotion’s fire… or embers as the case may more than likely be.

Treating the disease.

How do we know when our thinking is not diseased? Diseased thinking is nothing more than the cognitive biases we drag into our perceptions. Chapter 71 tells us there is this disease and that to recognize that fact helps mitigate the disease. Fine, but this is only a first step. Reaching impartiality is the only way to experience thinking that is minimally diseased. Any thoughts of preference, of taking sides, of attraction or aversion, are indications of biased thinking. It couldn’t be simpler or more straightforward. It only requires courage to know and accept!

Not knowing the constant, rash actions lead to ominous results.
Knowing the constant allows, allowing therefore impartial,
Impartial therefore whole, whole therefore natural,
Natural therefore the way.
The way therefore long enduring, nearly rising beyond oneself.

Why does this require so much courage? My guess is instinct. Once we fully know and accept the cause of a problem, we innately feel impelled to do something to fix it. If we feel helpless to fix this most personal of ‘problems’, we turn a blind eye to it and focus instead on fixing other people’s faults. As Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”. I suppose that may sound like the fault lies not in the stars but in ourselves. Sure, if one thinks natural instinct is a fault. This is where we get into trouble; we imagine a reality that is outside of nature’s way. The way through this conundrum of sorts is to accept the perfection of imperfection. The more you can do that, the more you can accept the problem as a non-fixable aspect of nature.

This closely parallels chapter 3′s wéiwúwéi (为无为), Doing without doing. Chapter 29, 57 and 63, among others, also put it well:

With desire choosing anything, of doing I see no satisfied end.
All under heaven is divine capacity, nothing can be done to it either.
Doing decays, grasping loses.
In the external world of man, someone leads, someone follows.
Someone sighs, someone blows.
Someone strives, someone wins.
Someone subdues, someone ruins.
Because of this, the wise man leaves the extremes, the luxurious, and the safe behind.

I do nothing and the people change themselves.
I love stillness and the people straighten themselves.
I am without responsibility and the people thrive themselves.
I am without desire and the people simplify themselves

Do without doing,
Be involved without being involved.
Taste without tasting.

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