Bill Bryson Neither Here Nor There Epub 47
The Tao that can be completely explained or expressed in words is not the constant, eternally unchanging and true Tao. If the name of this Tao can be defined with words, then it is not the constant, eternally unchanging name of the true Tao. Names did not exist prior to Creation. The nameless Tao is therefore the source of the universe. Once it manifests itself as the physical universe, it can be named. Everything is derived from it through natural processes. It is therefore the mother of all things. If we approach the Tao without self-serving desires, we can readily observe its inner wonders and marvels. This establishes a direct connection with the source, the vast intelligence of universal consciousness. This gives us flashes of powerful, intuitive insights, as well as free-flowing creativity. If we approach the Tao full of self-serving desires, then we can only observe its external physical manifestations, rather than its inner essence. These desires block the connection and interfere with the Tao process. We often do this to ourselves. The Tao's external manifestations (life, nature, the cosmos, and so on) and its inner wonders (oneness, the living void, the flow, etc.) are both properties of the ultimate reality. Although we call them by different names, they are but two sides of the same coin. This unity of these two aspects gives us an interesting paradox. They seem distinctively different, and yet they lead to one another. Understanding of the Tao's inner essence gives us greater understanding of its outer manifestations, and vice versa. Our recognition and acknowledgement of this paradox will open the door for us to further explore the infinite wonders of the Tao.
bill bryson neither here nor there epub 47
Notes The Tao that can be spoken (expressed in words) Is not the constant (eternal) Tao The Name that can be named Is not the eternal Name The "Nameless Name" - that which existed before there was anything to name - is a synonym for the Tao. The main idea here is that the Tao is a concept beyond reason and logic. It is the universal principle that permeates every action and every phenomenon, but it cannot be adequately understood through the rational mind. To comprehend it completely, you must exercise your intuition and get in touch with the fundamental divinity that connects everyone. Lao Tzu is also pointing out the limitation of spoken words and written texts. Our tendencies to categorize, define and analyze only give us the limited understanding of how the Tao acts upon the material world. This is exactly what happens when we study physics, biology, chemistry, and other natural sciences. On the other hand, if we free ourselves of this limiting human desire to put everything into words, and become aware of our wordless communion with nature, we can catch glimpses of a divine wisdom. Beyond categories, definitions, and analyses, it is wisdom far more profound than anything that academic knowledge, science and technology can offer.
Tao sages have long recognized the relative nature of the world. While one can certainly find absolutes in abstract theory, in the real world they rarely, if ever, exist. For instance, no metal is absolutely free of impurities. In fact, hardly anything in nature is absolutely pure. One can come close to 100% purity, but never quite get there. It is the same with people. Absolute good and evil can exist as concepts, but will probably never be found among human beings. Everyone is a mixture of varying proportions. No person is any one thing. If the world is by and large relative, then descriptions require comparison, perspective and proportion to have meaning. One can be "short" among NBA players and still be "tall" among kindergarten kids. Which description is correct? Both. Neither. It depends."Difficult" and "easy" bring about each other"Long" and "short" reveal each other"High" and "low" support each other"Voice" and "music" harmonize each other"Front" and "back" follow each other"Hard" and "easy" are concepts relative to one another. "Long" and "short" need each other to have meaning.The universe is full of dualities. Everything is relative; values have meaning only by comparison. For instance, a task can only be "easy" if it is being compared to some other task that is relatively more difficult. If there's nothing else to compare against, the task cannot be rated in terms of difficulty. Similarly, we can only say an object is "long" if we're comparing it against another similar object that is shorter. Each half of a duality cannot exist without the other half. A descriptive concept creates its own opposite.
When we glorify achievers and set them aside for special treatment, people will compete aggressively and step over one another to achieve that glory. Similarly, when we place a high value on certain goods, there will be those who plot to take them by force or by trickery. This determination of value can be rather arbitrary. For instance, what intrinsic goodness does gold have that makes it so much more valuable than other metals? What is so great about gold other than a particular number that people determine and agree upon? In general, whenever we point to anything as desirable, a wave of disruption ripples through society. People begin to think of ways to get more of the desirable thing, often at the expense of others. Because of this, a sagacious ruler would refrain from setting aside certain individuals for glorification, or designating certain goods as extremely valuable and putting them on display. These are sure-fire ways of stimulating materialistic desire, which is a bottomless pit. While the sages empty people's hearts of desires and weaken their ambitions for fame, glory, or material wealth, they would also pay particular attention to the basic needs. As rulers, the sage kings would see to it that the people do not go hungry and enjoy good health. As teachers, the sages would give people teachings that provide spiritual sustenance and promote spiritual health. When people follow the way of the sages, the few who scheme and plot will find themselves unable to utilize their repertoire of clever ploys. The governance of the sages leaves no room for their contrived tactics, and everything falls into place peacefully and naturally.
Notes The process described in this chapter - showcasing certain things as valuable and thus stimulating demand - is the basis of advertising and modern consumerism. Every day we see an endless parade of colorful, shiny products in front of us, enticing us and encouraging purchase. Not enough money? No problem! All major credit cards are accepted. Buy it now and pay no interest until next year. This is a limited-time offer, so call now! The trouble, as many people have already discovered, is that the pleasure of materialistic pursuits is fleeting. We can buy many things, but never lasting satisfaction. We can be surrounded by many of the colorful and shiny products and still feel a profound sense of emptiness. The solution to this cannot be found on the Home Shopping Network or in the Sears Catalog. It is not available by mail order or on the Internet. You will not see it at the shopping mall or your local stores. It isn't a colorful and shiny product. In fact, it isn't a thing at all. Ultimately, it is what people really want and need. But because it isn't a thing, it does not look enticing, nor does it encourage purchase or anything else. It cannot be showcased or paraded in front of people - so some of them may never find it. It cannot be put on a credit card and there is no financing available. It doesn't costs anything - so those who do find it may assume it has no value and cast it aside. They may find it only to let it slip through their fingers. To those who know what it is, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not, no explanation will suffice. Such is the nature of the Tao.
Translation Quite a few translators render "hard-to-obtain goods" as "rare goods." This is close, but not quite the same thing. The former is the literal, word-for-word translation; the latter is an interpreted meaning. Goods that are difficult to acquire may simply have a high price tag; they are not necessarily "rare" in the sense of being uncommon or hard to find. For instance, diamond rings are expensive and therefore relatively hard to get, but they are readily available and quite easily found for most people. In this chapter, Lao Tzu is talking about high-value items (such as jewelry) that are hoarded and thus become the target of thieves. There is no need to bring in the additional context of rarity into the mix. Doing so introduces a subtle distortion in the translation, which should be avoided if at all possible.
The Tao is like an empty container that you can fill with water and utilize. Yet no matter how much you do this, it will never be filled up because its capacity has no limit. It is a bottomless container; it is infinitely deep. Despite the emptiness of the Tao, its function is inexhaustible. This emptiness is not the same as "nothingness," for the infinite depths of the Tao conceal the seeds of Creation. There appears to be nothing in the Tao, and yet it contains everything. The Tao is eternal. It outlasts everything. After millions of year, even the tallest, sharpest mountain peaks will be reduced to gentle rolling hills. After billions of years, even the brightest stars will burn out and shine no more. In the course of time, all problems will be resolved one way or another. The proudest achievements of mankind will be reduced to dust. The Tao is what we call the source of everything. It is indistinct - we cannot see it clearly, nor can we understand it completely. We do not know how the Tao came to be, or if it came from anywhere at all. Does the ultimate source have a source? We simply cannot say. All we can say with certainty is that the Tao embodies the principles of Creation. Thus, if there is indeed a God who created the universe, the Tao had to be present before the Creation could take place.