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Erik Hare

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Member Since: Mar, 2007

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Blogs by Erik Hare

Real Way, Way Real
12/4/2007 7:28:02 AM

I get mail. I love getting mail. Thanks to everyone who sends me mail, because despite my lack of a comment space here on this blog my intention is always to start a new dialogue about what I think the real points of contention are in todayís world.

One letter in particular was a good representation of what I received over the last week:

Your analysis of the Tao Te Ching was interesting, but it seemed rather sterile. You seem to think that itís all about power, which doesnít go with Taoism as a religion. Do you really think itís about power, and are you a Taoist?

Last question first: if you have to say that I belong to a religion, I would prefer that it be Taoism. Since I donít consider names to be important, I donít consider the handle ďTaoistĒ to be important, either. The name that it is known by is not its true name, after all.

Now, about power. It may seem strange to Western eyes to talk about a philosophy and religion (Taoism is both) that is fundamentally about power. But in the Monotheistic world, all power ultimately comes from the One True God. Taoism is an atheistic religion, more along the lines of Wicca or some of the other pagan practices that the natives here in America practiced, and has to be seem more along those lines. That means that we have to first shed the idea that these are somehow inferior and stunted. I also need to be humble and say that what follows is my interpretation only, so please take it as such.

Most atheistic faiths, including Taoism, are based on the idea that life force is all around us, dispersed and usually in a careful balance of some kind. The concept of power, and how to be a part of the power of the universe, is a bit more delicate. To a Christian, aligning yourself with power is simply a matter of loving Jesus a lŠ John 3:16, and to a Jew or Moslem it is a matter of following the Law. A Taoist has a harder path to follow, putting themselves in line with a careful balance. Think of it as the difference between executive power and legislative power, and you can see that very different skills are involved.

But is that what is really all about? The Tao Te Ching is roughly half taken up by admonitions about how to rule effectively, and as such is a document intended for the court of the Emperor. It you do not see the rest of it as a description of personal power, then you have two disparate books that have been unreasonably smashed together. To take it as a whole is to see it as a book about how to align yourself with the real forces of the universe Ė and ignore the social and other forces that are not the real power of your life.

I believe that understanding power and how it is used is the single most important concept needed for a people to remain free. I further think that development of a personal sense of power is critical to this effort, and that the noise of social conventions often puts limits on what people even think is possible when it comes to power. That is why I talk about this stuff as I do Ė it is my attempt to get us to all talk about what can make a real difference in our lives as we continue to live closer together. Only a people blinded by social convention would blindly follow a load of rubbish into a war in Iraq. If the USofA was made up of people with a real sense of their own power, none of that would have happened. Nor would the impending economic meltdown, nor a lot of other very stupid things done in the name of Old Glory around the world.

I should use this opportunity to answer one other question:

You talk about power a lot. Is it fair to say that you come from a group that doesnít have power?

I am not an ethnic minority. I am so melanically challenged that anyone paler than me is under treatment for a skin condition. Someday, I may tell a few stories about my childhood in Miami and the events that led me to understand a few things about the world. Like most people paleo-maleo people of the white middle class, it had to be thrown into my head rather violently before it stayed.



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More Blogs by Erik Hare
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