Lenten Observance: Day 21

Tao 41 and 42:

41: The reaction of the superior, average and foolish man towards the Tao.  I like the average man’s reaction.  “When an average man hears of the Tao, he half believes it, half doubts it.”  Sounds very 6 to me.  There is probably little that I don’t greet with a combination of enthusiasm and ambivalence.  “Do I stay or do I go?”  as the song says?  It is with good reason that I am fond of Catullus (I think it is 61, but I may be wrong) who tells the story of Protesilaus and his lady love, and imagines Lesbia standing on the threshhold, caught in Catullus’ gaze — the idea of a person on the threshhold always has a great deal of power for me.  Often I rush in, or don’t go in, but lingering on that spot, half-in, half-out, that has a lot of power for me.  Most of 41 deals with the paradox of apparent power seeming weak (because it is not displayed for others).  I’ve heard that said about Obama’s politics — that he is leery of the partisan politics and tries to find some other path — may be so, but it sure seems like the Right wing gets most of the attention, and that doesn’t seem such a good thing — for that is not a marriage of yin and yang, but a lot of yin and not so much yang. 

42: Here we have three points:  that there is the One = Tao, but that from one comes two, and then three, and then the multiplicity.  Then we have the idea of combining the yin and yang, the male and female — that is the path of the Tao, and then the Master who makes use of  solitude, embracing his loneliness, whereas the ordinary person hates it.  In a sense, we are all alone together, as our consciousness can only be shared in terms of words and actions, and those are always going to be imperfect representations of our innermost selves.  Like St. Paul’s statement about seeing “through a glass darkly,” a sentiment that Plato would embrace — that’s where we are on this world.  And, as someone who is often afraid of the loneliness, rushing into business and into company can seem the way past that, but it is, at best, a temporary solution.  Learning to be alone, and taking some comfort in that state, may be the best solution.

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