Interpreting the Tao
Interpreting the Tao. A (long) while ago I posted this extract from the Tao:
When the Tao is lost, there is goodness.
When goodness is lost, there is morality.
When morality is lost, there is ritual.
Ritual is the husk of true faith,
the beginning of chaos.
Let me re-write it, by way of interpretation:
Out of chaos comes ritual, the beginning of faith.
Ritual provides a framework from which morality is discovered.
Morality provides a framework from which goodness is discovered.
Goodness provides a framework from which the Tao is discovered.
I think we can probably all relate to these stages. We start with The Rules, and we obey them blindly, without understanding. Then we begin to understand them, and we gradually form a moral system. The rules become (of necessity) more flexible—guides, rather than laws. They still help give shape to our moral system where it is less clearly defined, but the more fully we establish our moral system, the less rules are necessary.
And again, our moral system gives shape to a ‘goodness,' and as this goodness is more fully realised, our moral system becomes unnecessary, and in some manner detrimental. Our system begins to hamper and restrict what we have begun to know.
The problems I have in understanding and interpreting this system, as it affects myself, is: what words do I use to describe each stage? and: are these the only stages, or might there be more?
For instance, my first effort to explain my stages would be:
(It occurs to me that many people choose a stage at which to live, and never move beyond it; I don't resent this, but it's not the path for me. ‘Growth or death.')
The problem I face is that I have no words for the stage I currently face. I suspect that I can only name something once I have begun to properly understand it.
(Note: I found this post in my drafts; I wrote it November last year.)