For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
- Romans 1:20
“The process of change is seen as an expression of dao [the way], and leads to the 10,000 manifestations that make up the world. Laozi, in the Daode jing, says that humans are merely one of these 10,000 manifestations and have no special status. But because of our desire and free will, we can stray from the dao, and disturb the world’s harmonious balance. To live a virtuous life means acting in accordance with the dao.
“Following the dao, however, is not a simple matter, as the Daode jing acknowledges. Philosophizing about dao is pointless, as it is beyond anything that humans can conceive of. It is characterized by wu (‘not-being’), so we can only live according to the dao by wu wei, literally ‘non-action.’ By this Laozi does not mean ‘not doing’, but acting in accordance with nature – spontaneously and intuitively. That in turn entails acting without desire, ambition, or recourse to social conventions.”
- Sam Atkinson (senior editor), The Philosophy Book, Big Ideas Simply Explained (The Dao that can be told is not the eternal Dao)
- Homer Simpson, The Simpsons – too many times
- All of us at one time or another, some people more often than others
When I read this book’s description of the “Dao,” I was sent in two directions at the same time. One being that the Dao is the Way, but Jesus is eliminated. Jesus is knowable. We do not need to “not know” in order to live according to Jesus’ teachings. We have the Bible.
But at the same time, it seems what the secular world is adopting, at least in part. Wang Bi tried to reform Daoism near 200AD, 800 years after Laozi’s writing (pronounced Lao Tzu) by taking the practicality of Confucius and weaving it into Daoism since totally not knowing and non-action cannot be practical for followers. Since there are too many “not” concepts should that not be “not followers?”
Yet, the secular world thinks that we can pull off totally ignoring God, condemning any thought of God, and yet, we can cure the damage we have done to the planet and return to a balance in nature. That is even against Daoism as we are “doing something.”
Laozi saw that it was impossible for us to continue actions fed by desires, even if the desire was to return the balance of nature. Humans have desires and they act upon those desires – thus non-action is required to prevent further imbalance. We also have free will and when we act, it will most likely upset the balance of nature.
But have you noticed that there are elements in Daoism that parallel Christianity? Dao is the Way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the father except through Jesus. Dao makes no mention of God as if we could understand the incomprehensible just by non-action. Yet, God is knowable. We can talk to Him and in ways He talks to us. We have the Bible. Yet, Laozi observed no knowable “way.” God is a Spirit and does not have a body like man, thus in a way, “The Way” is unknowable.
My eyes cannot see God, not yet. My ears might hear strange noises like someone going up the stairs when no one is in the house but me. It might be a ghost or the house settling, but are my ears infallible? Yet, I feel as if I have heard God’s audible voice. Other people know that they have. Sometimes my sense of touch seems to fail me, but in any case, I have not touched my Savior physically. There are parallels with the Dao, but the existence of God, and specifically Jesus as the Way (Dao), is the major part that is missing.
The point is that in a land far from the Promised Land, about the time of exile of Judah to Babylon, a Chinese philosopher recognized the depravity of man, recognizing sin, but maybe not by that concept. In sin manifesting itself in actions based upon selfish desires, the only way to achieve “the Way” was repentance, a return to “non-action,” the opposite of the act of the sin.
But Laozi got one major thing wrong. The Way is knowable. If Laozi lived in a different place and about 600 years later, he could have seen, heard, touched, and smelled the Way. He could have experienced the God-Man, Jesus.
The Apostle Paul is correct. There are no excuses.
As I was putting my thoughts down, before writing this post, I watched a television show about DNA and epigenetics and how a leading evolutionist admitted that to continue to believe in evolution with the latest advances in the field of genetic study was ridiculous. Yet, he was stubborn and rejected God as the answer, holding to a theory that is proven false, just to take God out of the equation.
That’s where we come to the “D’oh!” Homer Simpson would do something wrong, usually resulting in injury and he would exclaim “D’oh!” We run into a brick wall at some point in our lives and we know that the only solution is God, but if we reject it … D’oh!
But what of “duh.” Duh is the sound our brain makes when we do not think. Most of the ‘duhs’ of life are never spoken. The brain is that far away from the gearbox – the one necessary to be in a gear in order to have a thought. It reminds me of Big Boy Caprice in the movie, Dick Tracy.
“Wait a minute! Wait. I’m having a thought. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I’m gonna have a thought. It’s coming… It’s gone.”
- Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino), Dick Tracy (movie)
And the timing during that ellipsis was perfect. You leaned forward to hear what the thought was going to be, and then … it was gone.
Did Laozi ever consider that the Way could be a spiritual being, something with emotions, something with knowledge of every breath that we take, the one Something that created the balance in nature in the first place, and yet unseen, but knowable? Maybe that question is one like Laozi describes the dao itself, philosophizing the question is pointless. Yet, if you think the dao is plausible, consider the next step. Jesus is the Way. And you can know Him. You can accept Him into your heart. And repentance is required, that process of sanctification from those earthly desires, replaced by desires to know Jesus. Please, please, do not stop when you have a “duh” moment and for a moment you fail to think it through. Do not stop when you hit the wall and go “D’oh.” Break through to the knowledge that God loves you. He has a perfect plan for your life. And Jesus is the Way, and He will provide Light to your path.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.