Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Taoist reflections on my 45th birthday

     The Tao Te Ching says that the universe treats us as straw dogs.  Meaning that we are burned as if in a sacrifice.  The sage, so says the Tao Te Ching, treats people as straw dogs.  Interpreters say this doesn't mean to be mean; it means to remember that everyone is temporary, including the people we love the most.  It makes no sense to kick against the pricks of the universe about this.  This interpretation is certainly consistent with the rest of the Tao Te Ching, but someone can take it in a mean way if they choose -- and I'm sure some have.

     I personally don't plan on being mean to anyone at this point of my life.  However, I've come to know myself well enough to know that I don't plan on starting some spate of massive, public political involvement. That's one way to go in life, but it isn't my way.  I'm emotionally too unconnected.  I realize my connection to the society around me, but it is not in my nature to throw my hat in too much.

     I know what you might be thinking: don't I have an obligation to fight for what's right in society with all my strength.  Well, no.  Who's to say what my obligations are?  It may not seem honorable to you, but honor is a trap.  It may seem immoral to you, but morality is also a trap.  I have to decide for myself the best way to live my life; I have no book or anyone to decide for me.  Giving my own spontaneity up for society does not feel like the best way for me to live.  If my own nature is fulfilled by filling some  role, so be it, if not, and it appears not, then there it is.  I have told the Confucian voices in my head I will disobey them.



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