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The Absolute, the Relative and the Tao


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:39 am

Hi Jim,
I hope you are keeping well.
Because of time needed for work projects I 'm trying to spend less time noodling and just browsing on the PC but I just read a post on the New Taoist Community site and a reply just therapeutically spewed out.
Writing it down helped to clarify my own thoughts.

I though to share the discussion with you and the board.I 'd like to hear your take on the discussion, if it interests you.
I only mention headlessness indirectly but you will see it in the reply.

It's quite long.
From The New Taoist discussion board:
http://s1.zetaboards.com/New_Taoist_Community/index/

New Taoist member Woody writes.

OK. After a lot of thought here's what I've come up with so far. Hopefully it will make some sense. I'm not completely happy with my answer and I suspect a lot of it has lots of ego and selfishness lurking in the background somewhere

I find that breaking things down helps a lot, so here goes....

Does the death of my child matter?

To the Tao it is irrelevant. All is one. Nothing has changed.
To reality it is irrelevant. Some part has changed state but the whole is unaffected.
To the universe, the galaxy, or to the earth it is probably irrelevant.
To to the human race it is is probably irrelevant. After all according to Unicef over 26000 under-5s die from largely preventable causes every day. What does one more matter?
To the UK it probably doesn't matter - just one of many.
To my town it starts to matter. We are a small community and many people know us.
To my family and I it matters a great deal.
To my child it is everything.
However, in 100, or 1000, or 10000 years time will it still matter?
Then again - in time will whatever choice I make matter?
So in the grand scheme of things it's of no significance either way.

From Taoism I know that life, death and individuality are illusions - yet I want to "save" my child - an act of ego as much for my benefit as for the child's.
I do however believe that my child should have the chance to make its own choice, and through the treatment it will get the chance to become an adult and decide for itself - even if that choice is to stop the treatment. It will also get the opportunity to seek harmony with the Tao in the interim should that be its path. I also don't believe that my child should bear the consequences of my beliefs, but at the same time I'm aware that I can't predict the consequences of my choices. There is the potential in this for a existential nihilistic approach, because in Taoism in the end nothing we do matters - except to us - but that's not really what Taoism is trying to teach us. At the end of the day Taoism is not about what "matters", nor is it about the destination, it is about the journey.

The level of intervention seems to go against the Taoist concept of Wu Wei. A better approach from a Taoist perspective might be to follow the path where I learn to deal with loss rather than wielding all the big guns of science to intervene, but everything in my make-up tells me that the treatment would be the right thing to do - but is that Te or ego I'm listening to? So I would choose the treatment aware that it includes many contradictions and self-delusions. I would do it because I have the choice, or at least the illusion of choice, and I would prefer to continue the journey a bit further with the company of my child.

Like I say, I'm not completely happy with this answer, but it's my first attempt & any observations would be gratefully received.

Edited by woody, Yesterday, 12:30 AM.
My blog discussing Taoism and related issues in the 21st century is called "The Path of Water" and can be found at http://path-of-water.blogspot.com/

Steve P. posted on 27th August 09

Hi Woody,

My gut reaction is just save the child.
Forget about ego and Tao.
We will all die fairly soon.
Whats a 100 years in eternity ?
A blink of the eye.

Main Point
You can't live in the absolute reality apart from the relative.

The Tao allows for both Hitler and Gandhi yes but,
Tao is like space or a container,
Any content can pass through the space, it makes no difference to the space.
But to the content it makes all the difference.

The Wu Wei,
in my limited understanding,
is to see the non-separation of All
then harmony naturally arise's effortlessly.

The senses make you look out,
into separation and ignore the ground of being, the Tao.
This is my experience.

When I realize I am completely connected to all,
effortless right action follows.
When I think i am separate from all,
ignorance and wrong action follows.

Both are ok to the Tao or ground of being but
we don't live in the absolute view point.
We are relative creatures.
The most important thing,
which i forget and suffer from,
is how we relate to each other.
Relationship.

Then the empathy you feel for your child makes it matter.
Even while knowing we will all leave the stage soon.
Old age, sickness and death awaits all.

It occured to me that to the extent a country treats it's
old, sick, ill, and" physically and mentally useless" well,
To that extent a country is civilized and Tao has arisen.
Some understanding of non-separation and empathy has arisen.

I'll get off the soapbox now !!!!

I don't expect you to agree
but it is good to put these views out.
Especially for me
as they act as reminders.

May we all allow our minds to be spacious
and see our common humanity.
Be Open to life,
exactly the way life is. : ))

Steve
PS
The question,
Do we have free will or not ?
I go with the old joke.
and
have no choice but to say
yes we do...........
when the ALL lets us : )))))))))))

Steve Palmer


From: simon
Posted: Fri Aug 28, 2009

This is a touching situation.
Very honest and human - just one point troubles me slightly:
Woody says
Quote:
"To the UK it probably doesn't matter - just one of many.
To my town it starts to matter. We are a small community and many people know us.
To my family and I it matters a great deal.
To my child it is everything.

Its the last line that troubles me, I don't see how he can know that.
(I have "enjoyed" a NDE and my experience concords with others; no fear, no loss or sense of loss, I would go so far as to say no sense of change...)
Is it possible that the pain & 'problem' stem from this 'imagined' idea of what the change means or will mean for the first person involved?
I hope this doesn't sound heartless, I know grief, but this suffering of the father is perhaps based on the assumption that 'death' is a full stop.
What dies?
What remains?
Looking in (as we say) is there anything that can die?
Ha! enough words, its the seeing that matters!
love to all;
Simon


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Fri Aug 28, 2009

Hi Simon,

Yes It is a tough one to say if a person has little or no interest in the source or any other word or name you choose to use.

Your last two sentences say it all.

Ha! enough words, its the seeing that matters!
love to all;

ditto
from
Steve


From: jimclatfelter
Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2009

Hello Steve and Simon,

Several Christian groups don't believe in certain medical procedures, like blood transfusions. There was a lot of fuss on the tv news a month or two ago about a mother who ran off with her son in order to avoid treatment for his life-threatening illness. The doctors though there was a good chance of curing his disease with another round of treatments.

On another tv show, which aired last Friday evening, a father talked about his daughter who had leukemia. She lived till age 12, I believe. The treatments were very painful for her, and neither she nor the parents wanted it for her. The doctors insisted it was standard protocol that they have no choice but to follow. The girl had relapsed from it twice, and she didn't want to undergo it a third time. The doctors left them no choice in the matter. She had the third painful round of treatments, from which she did no recover. The treatments did give her a few extra years and time with her sister and parents.

Sometimes choice lies in the wrong hands.

Did Woody say this? from Taoism I know that life, death and individuality are illusions - yet I want to "save" my child - an act of ego as much for my benefit as for the child's.

I don't know that Taoism says that these are illusions. Taoists valued a long life. They knew that we get the lifespan we are given, but they did what they could to keep their health. I think they would have something to tell us about our ways today. So much of our way of life is corrupted. Our diets don't help us prolong life. They lead to chronic diseases instead. Are Americans healthy? I think I heard that up to one-third are obese, not just overweight. They eat foods that are full of fat and sugar. Even the schools serve such food, though they may be improving. And if they are improving, it's because we have some modern-day "Taoists" among us, who value life and don't see it as an illusion.

I read Taoists as focusing on this life, and seeing it as the only one we have. They value life in the now, which means the timeless present. They certainly wouldn't trash their lives with the wide assortment of poisons people use today.

Jim


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2009

Hi Jim,

Thank you for the input.
I like the sentiment of your paragraph

Quote:
I read Taoists as focusing on this life, and seeing it as the only one we have. They value life in the now, which means the timeless present. They certainly wouldn't trash their lives with the wide assortment of poisons people use today.

I think it was Taoist teacher Ken Cohen who said. " Don't eat any food with ingredients "
Which I took to mean avoid processed food stuff in favour of fruit, veg, seeds, nuts etc.Foods with no ingredients.

Also
Quote:
They eat foods that are full of fat and sugar. Even the schools serve such food, though they may be improving. And if they are improving, it's because we have some modern-day "Taoists" among us, who value life and don't see it as an illusion.

If you put to much emphasize on the Absolute truth, life can be seen as an illusion.
I appreciate Douglas's two way pointing, inward to the aware space and out to the ever changing world.
Giving both value.

Steve


From: simon
Posted: Tue Sep 01, 2009

Yes, what "is" (by itself, so to speak) is a far cry from what "we think" etc.

I've auditioned quite a few doctors before finding one who works with the body rather than waging war on viruses or maladies.
Even if not conscious of it, many people work from clarity and they are the ones I find easier to trust ...
love to all
Simon


From: Steve Palmer
Posted: Wed Sep 02, 2009

Quote:
Even if not conscious of it, many people work from clarity and they are the ones I find easier to trust ...
love to all

Hi Simon and Jim,

The line Even if not conscious of it rang a bell.
Yes that natural clarity is very attractive.

Thanks,
Steve


Headless on Youtube
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