Taking Refuge in old Classics, a Tell of How Ancient Philosophies Had it All

33Nicolas's picture

My first love was an introduction to Taoism in High School at around 13. It's hard to describe what it did to me or how I felt.

Home. This is it. That makes sense. This is the closest I remember how I felt when I was first introduced to the ancient Chinese philosophy that tries to explain what life is through what it's not and the "Way" as impalpable, ineffable. Taoism has its place in today's world where the ridiculous is worshiped and nonsense adulated.

"Cut off sageliness, cast away wisdom, and then the great thieves will cease. Break the jades, crush the pearls, and petty thieves will no longer rise up. Burn the tallies, shatter the seals, and the people will be simple and guileless. Hack up the bushels, snap the balances in two, and the people will no longer wrangle. Destroy and wipe out the laws that the sage has made for the world, and at last you will find you can reason with the people."

It's hard to argue against this wisdom.

But try as we might, we live in different times than the ancient masters did. As much, we must adapt and take from the old, anchoring our feet in this new reality we are forced to acknowledge.

I take refuge often in Chuang Tzu's famed words. No matter whether he or she exists or not. Who cares. It's the moon we must watch, not the finger-pointing. But this ruthless logic should have us re-examine our way of disempowering ourselves, then complain, then hail saviors that never come.

As we watch the news, it would be wise to see we hear from political careerists and not trained health professionals. Those who are trained health professionals speaking with politicians have long left the confines of their labs and research.

One thing stands out in the midst of the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our leaders have fallen very short of what was expected of them. They answer a different master whose face remains in semi-anonymity. One country exemplified itself, Taiwan, but we are forced to look at the lesser ones that have done an OK job.

One thing is for sure, those elected to protect their populations have shown they follow a different agenda, a different path than that of our welfare and wellbeing. I'm left to wonder when will it be enough? Where is the imaginary line people to say enough is enough? Mine was crossed a long time ago.

"In the world everyone knows enough to pursue what he does not know, but no one knows enough to pursue what he already knows. Everyone knows enough to condemn what he takes to be no good, but no one knows enough to condemn what he has already taken to be good.14 This is how the great confusion comes about, blotting out the brightness of sun and moon above, searing the vigor of hills and streams below, overturning the round of the four seasons in between. There is no insect that creeps and crawls, no creature that flutters and flies that has not lost its inborn nature. So great is the confusion of the world that comes from coveting knowledge!"