I’ve philosophized my way through the world’s major religions and quite a few of the minor ones. I’ve lost my faith, found my faith, and lost it again. Several times. I expected that I’d get wiser as I got older, but the opposite has occurred.
At fifty-seven I know less about God than I did at twenty-one. Back in 1969 I was teaching yoga and meditation. I could hold forth on the meaning of Indian phrases such as “Tat Tvam Asi,” thou art that. The “that” is ultimate reality. I actually believed it.
Now, as I wrote about a few days ago, I feel like I’m becoming more of a spiritual fool with every not-knowing moment. I appreciated the comments on that post, especially grayfields’ thoughts. When I hear, “you’ve given voice to my own thoughts,” I feel warm in my foolish soul.
We’re all in this together. Not that I have any idea what “this” is. Or what “together” means. Regardless, the thought rings true. Everyone is speaking someone else’s words along with his or her own.
After all my reading of mystical, religious, and philosophical literature, I’m convinced that there’s nothing new to be said. The goal isn’t fresh saying, but fresh understanding. So I gravitate toward words that stimulate an Oh, yeah! in me, a recognition that here is the way to…I don’t know what, but I sure want to be there.
That place is for me. Not anyone else. Spiritual fools tend to be communally attracted to magnets of not-knowing, though, such as Taoism. The crazy smile of the Taoist philosophy has room for many individual foolish grins. So let’s lift a cup of churchless intoxication and fail to grasp some of the wisest lines that can’t be understood.
These quotations are from “The New Lao Tzu,” Ray Grigg’s enjoyable fresh interpretation of the Tao Te Ching.
Those who know of the Tao
recognize it as great.
Why is it great?
Because it is different.
Why is it different?
Because it cannot be understood.
If it could be understood,
it would not have lasted
from the beginning of the beginning.
The wise know
they do not know;
The fools do not know
they do not know.
The Tao that can be named
is not the nameless Tao.
The Tao that can be known
is not the unknowable Tao.
Look but it cannot be seen,
so it has no form.
Listen but it cannot be heard,
so it makes no sound.
Think but it cannot be thought,
so it defies understanding
Because it cannot be discerned,
it cannot be discovered.
Because it cannot be thought,
it cannot be known.
Still it seems to be something,
a something that is everywhere
How can anyone who just drifts and wonders,
who can’t even be sure of themselves,
Take seriously all these rituals,
all this herding?
It seems better just to be alone and quiet,
not belonging anywhere.
Everyone else seems eager and dutiful,
but the deeper way seems lonely and confusing.
Everyone else seems clear and definite,
but the deeper way seems dark and uncertain.
What is a person to do when being adrift at sea,
when being blown aimlessly anywhere,
seems to be a more profound calling?
When everyone else seems busy and purposeful,
what is to be done with an urge
that is confusing and lonely,
When everyone else
is guided by the affairs of people,
What is this urge
that comes from the Great Mother?