I’m an infrequent follower of the Tao. I have the opening line to Chapter 56 of the Tao Te Ching tattooed on my back. It was my very first tattoo. In moments of self-awareness at the age of 18, I understood that I was (am) a blowhard with a superiority complex and an inveterate asshole. I decided to tattoo that fact and its solution on my body forever, to remind myself that I can go fuck myself. The Tao is a sacred collection of musings from an apocryphal cat named Lao Tse almost entirely about telling yourself to go fuck yourself. It’s brilliant.
It can also be wrong in a spectacular, confident fashion, but also it could be right at the same time. It’s a weird book; the other topic that it’s concerned with is good governance. Self-help meets Zbigniew Brzezinski.
If any one should wish to get the kingdom for himself, and to
effect this by what he does, I see that he will not succeed. The
kingdom is a spirit-like thing, and cannot be got by active doing. He
who would so win it destroys it; he who would hold it in his grasp
Chapter 29 is right/wrong in this exact manner. Obviously, the first part is wrong, because all of history, and the second part is clearly right because duh, but also, because the second part is right if you look at the first part in that context the first part is probably right, too, because what the fuck?
In the context of the present, every president (the office that is becoming ever more reminiscent of kingship) has wished to get the kingdom, and has succeeded by doing. That’s kinda how it works. Unless you consider the kingdom a spirit-like thing, in which case he fucking nailed it. His point is, essentially, anyone who wants to president should be automatically disqualified on account of they’re going to fuck everything up. So, yea, he fucking nailed it.
The softest thing in the world dashes against and overcomes the
hardest; that which has no (substantial) existence enters where there
is no crevice. I know hereby what advantage belongs to doing nothing
(with a purpose).
Chapter 43 is right/wrong too. All of this is right in the long run, unlike Jesus’ “meek shall inherit the Earth” line, which by now we all know isn’t true. The meek is getting fucked, bro. Water erodes rock over time and you should totally be like water, as Bruce Lee told us two thousand years later (and then Spike from Cowboy Bebop only slightly more recently). To be deliberately flowing, rather than actively struggling, is to embody the principles of the Tao. Awesome. But we don’t have the luxury of becoming one with the universe and therefore ourselves, because we don’t have time.
In order to survive this time, we’re gonna have to be hard.
To know and yet (think) we do not know is the highest
(attainment); not to know (and yet think) we do know is a disease.
It is simply by being pained at (the thought of) having this
disease that we are preserved from it. The sage has not the disease.
He knows the pain that would be inseparable from it, and therefore he
does not have it.
Lao Tse got to the Dunning-Kruger effect a lot sooner than they did, which is pretty cool, and not only that, but he also solved it, which is super cool, but also no one ever paid attention and no one ever will, very less cool. Like he says, “My words are very easy to know, and very easy to practise; but there is no one in the world who is able to know and able to practise them” (which is just such a fucking cop out, if you ask me).
That is the reason we don’t have enough time to be Taoists. The diseased people Lao Tse describes are legion and they are in power. They’ve spread that disease to, if not a majority, a plurality and if that disease isn’t stopped we will all be destroyed by it.
Dan and I make sure to point out that we have no love for either party, we don’t give a fuck about Republicans or Democrats, we’re done with politics as a team sport. The problems we face are not the result, really, of the right or the left, they are the result of people who think they know what the fuck they are doing and stick to it regardless of the reality of the situation. The Iraq war is still going. We’re still putting shit tons of carbon in the atmosphere. We can’t fucking stop electing idiots.
We can no longer be patient. It’s time for the people who know what the fuck they’re talking about, but question everything, to publicly abandon that position - but privately prize it like precious metal - and start insisting loudly and forcefully we have simple, easy-to-understand solutions. Bernie Sanders knew well that taxing the rich isn’t a tax code, but it was a simple concept that penetrated the know-what-the-fuck-they’re-talking-about assholes. In America no longer can you discuss policy, reality, or much else. In order to defeat the Dunnings-Kruger, you have to appeal to them directly using their own language.
We need to take our good ideas and boil them down again and again until they’re at their simplest expression and repeat it loudly and confidently. They do it and that’s why they’re winning.