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29 January 2006 at 05:18

it's not either/or

God doesn't bother me, and I don't bother Him. He's happy for me to be a freelance Taoist.

Taoism's just the best thing. For example it teaches that nothing in life is black and white. Or I should say, everything is black and white.




There is nothing that is 100% good. Or 100% bad. Everything contains some good and some bad. Mother Theresa wasn't all saint, she used to like killing flies. Adolf Hitler was a monster, but he was kind to dogs and even kids.

A contemporary example: many people convince themselves that George Bush is satan. Others will argue that he's the saviour of Western civilisation. Bring together two people with these two opposing views, and they'll argue till doomsday about which view is correct.

To a Taoist, such argument is a waste of time: because everything is partly good and partly bad, Bush must be part satan and part saviour of Western civilisation.

Actually, I wish I hadn't chosen Bush as an example, since no-one, except perhaps his wife, has actually found his redeeming qualities. But logically they must exist!

A less confusing example: about 20 years ago, a clairvoyant said to me "you love your father, don't you?" My immediate answer was: "no, I hate him."

I do hate him. But I have gradually come to accept that I hate him, and I love him.

He was a vain self-centred bully, and he taught me advanced driving skills that have probably saved my life.

He bashed and humiliated me in public, yet when I broke my brand-new Gene Autry rifle by using it as a cricket bat, he was my hero when he took it back to the shop and demanded a replacement.

You see? Taoists don't waste their time figuring out whether something is bad or good.

One more example. I prefer not to eat tomatoes, because they're from the deadly nightshade family of plants, and are very mildly toxic. But if I tell people this, they tend to respond with "but tomatoes are great, they're full of vitamin C!" It doesn't occur to them that something can be good for you and bad for you. All-or-nothing thinking - it always leads to arguments.

PS when I was googling for "yin yang photo", one of the images that came up was this. Taoism was never like that in my day. What is spirituality coming to?

Blogger The Rambling Taoist said...

Of course, you're right that life is not an either/or proposition. Still, as an American, I find it most difficult to say that there is anything good about George Bush.

Gosh, I don't know, maybe he once saved a mouse from a cat or said hello to an old man. Since then, however, it's all been down hill.  

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Blogger hotboy said...

Adolf! Zeig! Have we got a middle way here? Enough is enough. You can maybe go too far. I love triffle. Too much and you throw up! (Why can't I spell triffle?) So when you do too much of the good stuff it starts to get bad. Hmmm? Also, why are you posting dirty photies of your sister? Remember Ra Tao which can be spoken is not the real Tao. Fung sake! That's no help at all. Hotboy  

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Blogger robmcj said...

trey - Agreed, and there may be further downhill yet to go. Viewed from these islands, it looks like the people who really stretch my proposition are Bush's puppetmasters.

HB - "You can maybe go too far" - not words I'd expected to ever come from someone with your success with excess.

Actually, too much anything and you throw up. Perhaps with the exception of weissbier in your case.

Re the unspoken Tao - yes, but how else to spread the concept to the flatties?

Re the spelling. Do you really need to ask?  

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Blogger robmcj said...

Another reason not to focus on someone else's perceived badness is that it blinds us to out own essential mixture of good and bad, and we deny the dark side of ourselves. The truth is we've all done bad things, we've all slaughtered 6 million people and invaded Poland. Surely it wasn't just me?  

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Blogger hotboy said...

Adolf! Zeig and Heil! The great man view of history is one I maybe knew about once upon a time. Or social forces? The marxism? But you did kill all those nice jewish people and the number is 54 million according to a recent estimate. Six million jews among them. Since there might be only one thing, maybe so did I. BTW, my old man was on the Normandy landings. Dwarf. Asthmatic. Couldn't have been middle class, eh? At least, he went to a heaven afterwards. That might be a help. Hotboy  

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Blogger robmcj said...

For the record, could the asthmatic dwarf section of the readership please comment on their class membership? Much appreciated.

HB - didn't you read my post? There's no such thing as good stuff. Even triffle is good and bad, even if the bad part is only the spelling.  

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Blogger sasfdasfdljkfksdjkfjsd said...

i thought the key was just not to eat cooked tomatoes, cuz of the acidity.  

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Blogger Heather said...

So another one of you no nightshade types. I met my first bunch about a month ago and was really quite intrigued by the whole thing.

And another taoist term you should probably like..actually 2

wu wei...to do without doing

and "The Celestial Venerable of the Mysterious Origin" --a title I wish to aspire to... these are things I learned in Taosim class...not boobies..  

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Blogger Lee Ann said...

Well, that certainly makes sense. I always tend to eat stuff that is not good for me. Unfortunately I like tomatoes a lot!
Gosh, that is on pizza, spaghetti, and all of that delicious Italian food!
I think it must be hard to speak of your father, seems as though he was a strict disciplinarian.  

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Blogger The Rambling Taoist said...

Rob,
You make an excellent point. We, here in the states, sometimes forget that it's not really Bush who is the problem. He merely is the public face of evil.

No, the true masterminds are Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.

Hmm. I was wondering. Since our government is spying on us when we communicate internationally, maybe Karl & Dick are reading this right now.  

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Blogger robmcj said...

Heather - and what's the Chinese for "to do nothing without doing?" That's the principle that Hotboy has helped me discover.

And surely "The Celestial Venerable of the Mysterious Origin" was by Tangerine Dream?

LA - don't worry, remember everything we consume is a mixture of good and bad. In your case, the miniscule downside of tomatoes is almost certainly outweighed by all their beneficial ingredients. In my case, with my medical history, I sometimes need to make different choices.

You're right, I am not fully comfortable talking about my old man, but since I went on Somaloft I'm much better than I used to be.

Trey - yes, for example your government was recently leaning on Google, Blogger's owners, to hand over user details. When are you guys going to have a decent opposition in Congress, and in Presidential elections? We have the same problem here in the UnHeard Ofs - the opposition has given up trying, so the conservatives can do what they like and just keep on winning.  

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