Thu, 21 June 2018




Taoism. The religion of nature

Who sees what? Lay Spirituality is the first form of spiritual recognition in man, which has its roots in naturalistic psychism, in analogical intuition, in the sacred expressions of conscience before the advent of every religion.

Naturally it is possible to identify in some pseudo religions of the past this "natural spirituality" devoid of dogmas, sacred books and prayers.

There have actually existed in the evolution of human thought at least three "pseudo-religious" forms free of the concept of a personal "God-creator" but which maintain the truth of a single matrix for all things. This matrix is called Tao or Nameless, in Taoism; Brahman or Non-dual Absolute in Advaita; Sunya or Emptiness in Buddhism.

Previously I have often been involved with Advaita and Buddhism, I feel now the time to speak a little more extensively of Taoism, sometimes described as the "doctrine of the humble or the simple", and in this sense the term "lay" combined with this feeling, it seems extremely appropriate. In fact the original meaning of the layman is really "simple, humble, out of any social and religious order context".

The recognized father of this "philosophy of life" was Lao Tse. Let's start by saying that in Lao Tse's thought we find that condemnation of pride and achievement, fundamental in every secular spirituality. The thought of Nisargadatta Maharaj, a layman advaitic sage, arises in the same vein. but also in proto-Christianity one can feel such a understanding, for example in the words referred to Jesus: "All that is exalted among men is an abomination before God".

Pride, this madness of greatness ascribed to the individual, is simply an illusion of man ... because in front of the Tao every human greatness is to be considered nothing but vain. And here we also understand the subtle cause of the ideological difference between Confucianism and Taoism, but perhaps we will talk about this topic in an upcoming occasion.

In Lao Tse's sayings we often and often find the disapproval of pride and the criterion of personal achievement and this by virtue of the law of concatenation of opposites, the alternation of Yang and Yin which is the kinetic manifestation of Tao. In fact, when the Yang force, active, finds its climax, it is automatically pushed towards its opposite Yin, passive.

The punishment for pride is therefore in Lao Tse a sort of natural law. "A great wind - he says - can not last more than one morning's space. A storm ceases with the day. The glorious army will not win forever. The high tree will be cut down "He explains in the Tao Te King how pride itself is the presage of the fall:" He who stands on tiptoe is not standing. He who marches in glorious steps will not make a long journey. The performer does not shine. One who exalts is without honor. One who prevails of his talent is without merit. He who keeps his successes is not maintained. These are excesses of nourishment and unnecessary humors for the Tao. All that is under the sky is nauseous. And the Tao man does not even look at them! "

However, this fundamental law does not prevent Lao Tse from maintaining an equitable and correct attitude towards the so-called "ways of the world". "The way of Heaven", he says, "takes away from the excess to compensate for the missing, but the way of petty men takes away the poor man to increase the rich". The way of Heaven, later said Lie Tseu (another Taoist), is the path of humility and the way of petty men is that of arrogance. This concept is expressed in the Book of Proverbs, announcing the fall of Babylon: "Arrogance precedes ruin and pride precedes the fall".

But the disregard for pride and consideration for humility do not exhaust the Taoist "doctrine". Lao Tse considers the Tao a kind of Mother that generates, nourishes and protects all beings in the universe. In truth it is difficult to say whether the Tao "is" or "it is not". In the metaphysics of the Tao the original kenosis is devoid of any substantial process, form or substance. It follows that in the eyes of our determinist thought the "fullness" of the Tao appears similar to the "emptiness". The Tao is seen as a bottomless abyss and this does not mean it gives rise to all things, a chaotic vortex from which all harmony arises.

So if the true Tao to our sense of determinism appears as a nothingness, which corresponds to the race towards the emptiness of the self, it simultaneously marks the blessed return in the silent matrix, which attracts and projects the experience of empirical thought and then reabsorbs it. in the nothing from which it comes. This kenosis of the Tao proceeds by its own nature and does not presuppose any creative or destructive will. And from this we understand the non-Taoist evaluation for a personal God.

Paolo D'Arpini - Comitato per la Spiritualità Laica -


Date: 20 February 2018Author: Paolo D'Arpini


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