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The philosophy of Chungliang Al-Huang
Tao teaches the human to be kind and fair, to be content
and to share with others the basic needs in our lives.
Questions for a New Millennium
by master Chungliang Al-Huang
I. The Question of Sustainability
Ancient Chinese believe in the inseparability of the trinity: Heaven-Human-Earth, in the often quoted, 'Heaven and Human are One', and 'Heaven, Human and Earth co-exist'. In Lao Tzu's Tal Te Ching, verse #67, one of the 3 Treasures is frugality, teaching of the danger of overblown consumerism in the exploitation of the earth?s resources. And, in verse #12, The five colors blind the eye. The five tones deafen the ear. The five flavors dull the palate, a warning of the madness of having too much, guiding us away from excess and toward the essential. Also, in #46,' there is no greater curse than the lack of contentment, no greater sin than the greed for possession. Therefore he who is contented with contentment shall be truly content.'
On procreation and proper relationships between human services and others, Lao Tzu #42: Tao gives birth to One, One to Two, Tow to Three, Three to all myriad things. All things carry the Yin and embrace the Yang to harmonize the vital force of Life. It is in nature's perfect Tai Ji-Yin/Yang unity, a living being is created. For human beings, procreation are meant to become a sacred and spiritual act, not to be degraded in ignorance with gross biological urges only ---a direct reflection in the current reality of the mindlessly unconscious over-population in the world today. Tao also teaches us to learn from Nature, from the animal kingdom and other living species, in the overall balancing act in natural habitats, in the food chain, and organically wise and scientifically sound, self-regulation and natural process of elimination.
And in #5, 'Treating all things and people as sacrificial straw-dogs' Law Tzu compared the human sage with Heaven and Earth" ' the Forces of Nature, as being non-sentimental and impartial to the prescribed superior and/or inferior species. Also, How the universe is like a Bellows! It seems empty, and yet it never fails to supply. The more it is worked, the more it brings forth. To abide in the Tao, we learn to sustain life in moderation and not to exploit the illusory inexhaustible resources.
II The Question of Progress
Verse# 41 clearly contemplates on the idea of progress with this thoughtful aphorism: Tao's progression seems like retrograde. Lao Tzu goes on to question the simplistic mind depending on the absolute answers with who understands Tao seems vague and not sure of comprehending who is advanced seems to slip backwards. Even those who moves on the smooth and even path seems to go up and down in unpredictable variations. Indeed, progress is not a straight line to the top, or bulldozing one's way to the finish and be done with. It is a process to be experienced and to be reckoned with in all walks of life, in personal and collective ways, in society, and countries and in the world at large.
Ancient sages of the Tao looked at the rich and the poor with multi-dimensional views. To reflect on this perennial wisdom, we observe the materially rich counties so impoverished in the heart and in the spirit; and, let us not judge or treat the :under-developed countries as being poor. Poverty is a concrete reality to be dealt with once the world is genuinely willing to share our collective wealth in resources. We all know that there ought to be enough food production to feed every mouth on earth. But, we also know that, what is preventing us from achieving the goal to end world hunger is often pure political and can be most frustratingly impeded by human actions, as well as inaction.
Two of the multiple symbols in Chinese for peace and harmony are simply a depiction of these two words Ho Ping, meaning putting food in every mouth to achieve peace and harmony. Also, another saying, All shall be equal and just under the Heaven. Tao teaches the human to be kind and fair, to be content and to share with others the basic needs in our lives.
To live the Tao in daily life is to cultivate some of these virtues and powers Chinese called Te, the finer qualities of being a cultivated and civilized human being.
A pragmatic vision to live one's Tao is to be a realist, knowing that in order to find peace and harmony in the world, one must begin from the self as an individual, cultivating the true human virtues as a model of integrity. So that the person as the basic single unit, is in true harmony with others and with the world. The individual, who possesses this power within, can transform the world like a pebble dropped in the center of a clear pool. Its rippled effects will reach far and beyond.
III The Question of Difference
Intrinsic in the Chinese language, which originated from ancient times with the symbol for humankind is Jen Rei, already can be interpreted as an undifferentiated unit of human and others, or humans with other variations, implying a recognition and acceptance of other races, ethnicity, culture, class, politics and choices of worship. To acknowledge this Taoist wisdom in the true humanity as a multi-cultured and multi-varied living species is not only an apt lesson for the Chinese today, it will be beneficial for the whole world as well.
Confucian teaching is based on the basic principle of learning about relationships. The key symbol for Confucian ethics is Jen (or Ren) --- a depiction simply about what is happening Between two human beings.
The gender distinction can be traced back to the original wisdom of the Yin-Yang balance of the Ultimate Reality the Tai Ji harmony of the masculine and the feminine principles. In spite of the corruption and unfairness to women throughout the centuries in the patriarchal society of China, the underlying wisdom for the elite and the enlightened is to find harmony and balance between men and women. To patch this gender gap, Mao Tse Dong even went as far as calling to the country to unity the male and female forces by emphasizing that women held up half of the sky!
IV. The Question of Understanding
The core of wisdom in the Tao is the understanding of Change and transformation, deeply rooted in the teachings of the I Ching: The Ancient Book of Change.
All fixity creates decay, and the ultimate breakthrough in life is through the process of change and transformation.
Tao teaches us to look into alternative ways to achieve peace and harmony in the world. To follow the way of the least resistance in the Watercourse Way.
Wu Wei is the principal philosophy of learning not to interfere with the natural progression of things and affairs. Learning to harness the force of the wind in sailing. Instead of insisting on using the muscle force of rowing to reach our destinations.
Beware of the contradiction in fighting for peace and justifying aggression in warfare to end war. Lao Tzu verse #31 clearly forewarn us, Even the best weapon of war is an unfortunate tool, must be avoided with disgust. So the followers of Tao stays away from it To enjoy using weapon is to enjoy the slaughter of mankind; and to enjoy killing people is to lose your share of the Commonwealth of Man It is only right that survivors of war must mourn for the murder of the defeated. Even a victory must be conducted as a funeral ceremony.
Tao teaches that the further we advance in science, the more perplexed and humbled we must become. From the first verse of Tao Te Ching, we learn to observe the obscure and the mysterious, to behold what has manifested in its outer aspects, and to marvel the hidden with its inner essence. And, to continue our search and re-search by entering into the mystery within mystery, the gate of all mysteries. And, in verse #14, Looked at, but cannot be heard---that is called the inaudible. Grasped at, but cannot be touched that is called the intangible Confront it and you do not see its face; follow to the timeless Tao can manage the affairs of now. To know the origins is to hold the thread of the eternal Tao.
On the wisdom of leadership and the ecology of the world, verses #17, #60 are most enlightening: Leaders are best when people scarcely know they exist Good leaders have faith in the people. Talk little, honor promises. When their work is done, their tasks fulfilled, the people will all say: ?we did this ourselves.? And, Rule a big country as if cooking a small fish. Don't over do it!
From: Chungliang Huang
The Small is Beautiful utopian vision is vivid here in Ah, a small country with a small population. There are sophisticated mechanical contrivances, but people seldom have use for them. Let them be mindful of living and dying and decline to travel far. Boats and carriages weapon and armors aplenty, but no occasion to utilize or display them. Let them fully enjoy their living simply, pleased with their home, thriving in their own customs. Even though neighboring countries are close by, there?s no reasons to mingle or interfere with one another. (Verse#80)
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