Lenten Observance: Day 16

Tao 31 & 32:

Chapter 31 deals with the problem of weapons and violence — these are not the instruments or way of the Tao.  They indicate fear, but also the damage done from the use of violence and weapons.  You cannot beat the truth into submission;  you can warp someone through violence, but no good can come of that.  And the idea that the right thinking person does not take joy in beating (violently) another, but enters war only as a last resort, and then takes no joy in the other’s defeat, even if that defeat were necessary.  This is a tough message to follow.  Every day we find ourselves in one battle or another, and there is something dangerous about letting anger and hatred get into our hearts, or to forget our opponent’s humanity.  It is easy, almost inevitable, that we’ll demonize our foes — it makes it easier for us to gear up for a battle that way.

Again the idea of the Tao’s smallness and greatness.  I once heard someone refer to God as a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere — that’s a paradoxical image that’s tough to get your mind around.  It sounds a lot like this idea of the Tao being very small (Mitchell calls it as small as an electron) but whose greatness is something that cannot be grasped.

  It is a powerful image.  And we have a recurrence of the statement about the many names of things.  Names are a way to label (and no label is 100% accurate) and to categorize and differentiate between people, objects, animals.  They are the key element of science, where the labeling and categorizing and defining of terms is central, but they are also a means of excluding, so that the wonder of the whole is missed, even denied.

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