Tuesday, January 03, 2006

In the morning, how many?

There are a number of issues I’d like to continue exploring in the New Year. So you’ll get more of the ongoing reflections about life in Iran, as well as about some of the more annoying rhetoric of the culture wars, and, of course, this (sort of new) creeping fascism all around us and a certain Cairo conference of the previous century.

Not in any particular order, mind you.

I also tend to agree with our friend Craig who’s begun feeling a new war coming. And, boy have I been feeling the slimy slithering of the same war, myself. I’ll tell you (again) where I stand and why.

Anyhow, can’t think about dissolution, creation and destruction without some help from the always stunning Chuang Tzu:

…Therefore take, for instance, a twig and a pillar, or the ugly person and the great beauty, and all the strange and monstrous transformations. These are all leveled together by Tao. Division is the same as creation; creation is the same as destruction. There is no such thing as creation or destruction, for these conditions are again leveled together into One.

Only the truly intelligent understand this principle of the leveling of all things into One. They discard the distinctions and take refuge in the common and ordinary things. The common and ordinary things serve certain functions and therefore retain the wholeness of nature. From this wholeness, one comprehends, and from comprehension, one to the Tao. There it stops. To stop without knowing how it stops -- this is Tao.

But to wear out one's intellect in an obstinate adherence to the individuality of things, not recognizing the fact that all things are One, -- that is called "Three in the Morning." What is "Three in the Morning?" A keeper of monkeys said with regard to their rations of nuts that each monkey was to have three in the morning and four at night. At this the monkeys were very angry. Then the keeper said they might have four in the morning and three at night, with which arrangement they were all well pleased. The actual number of nuts remained the same, but there was a difference owing to (subjective evaluations of) likes and dislikes. It also derives from this (principle of subjectivity). Wherefore the true Sage brings all the contraries together and rests in the natural Balance of Heaven. This is called (the principle of following) two courses (at once).

The knowledge of the men of old had a limit. When was the limit?

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