Somewhere between the two extremes of theology lies a place of truth, always metaphorical of course, for “The Tao that can be spoken of is not the Eternal Tao.”
On the one end is the materialistic nihilistic position; that the Cosmos is a random occurrence, operating on mechanistic principles with no possibility of Divine presence. In this view, even the mysteries of the quantum field are seen to be random and eventually explainable in a rationalistic manner. If there is a God, he started things going, then left the building. On the other end is the extreme theistic position in which a separate Deity created the Cosmos for humans and scrutinizes each individual’s every action and thought to insure that it they are “in accordance with His Will.” Here we are under a Divine microscope with our eternal destiny hanging by fragile threads which we only partially understand. For millennia these two poles have been the dominate “theologies” of humanity, each one taking its turn as the centuries pass. For the last two or three hundred years the mechanistic position has taken the forefront in the industrial and technological revolution.
The middle ground of this continuum is beginning to emerge. Taoist thought is one of the prime examples of this emergence. The “Tao” is seen as the mysterious, but very real, underlying nature of the Cosmos. Neither distant nor intrusive, the Tao contains everything yet asks nothing in return – no worship, no obedience, no artificial mind games. Thus rituals, metaphors, and spiritual practices can unfold in a broad spacious container. Helpful images and spiritual support can be experienced in a wide variety of ways.
The modern image of the “Unified Quantum Field” is a powerful one for me. It is a theory that seems to parallel the Tao – that field in which everything exists and from which everything comes. It is not irrational to believe that this “Field” is purposeful and can exert a powerful presence in human life. Neither is it irrational to think that this Field is compassionate in the deepest sense of that word – not sentimental but with a benevolent long-term, perhaps ever-morphing, purpose for Itself within all of the Cosmos.
As Jesus said, “I and the Father are one,” so quantum field theory posits a pervading “Oneness” of every sub-atomic particle in the Universe, including the atomic energy fields that are manifest as you and me. There is no definitive scientific proof for either the mechanistic or the Living Organism theory. However the consequences of each belief are vastly different … just look around. A choice between the two is a no-brainer for me. I choose Oneness.
Following this path is like stringing a bow.
One end is pulled down
and the other is pulled up,
creating a dynamic balance.
So this practice encourages a dynamic balance between excess and deficiency.
When we see an excess,
we reduce it.
When we see a deficiency,
we give to it.
This is contrary to common wisdom.
Common wisdom seeks
to constantly increase excess.
To do this, that which is lacking must decrease even more.
Balance is destroyed.
To keep balance we must trust this path and keep to our true nature.
This allows us to give without worry,
and to receive without attachment. Chapter 77 –
Life is a difficult balancing act. We really don’t want balance, we want excess: excess material goods, excess security, excess money, excess health, excess years of life … name it and we are conditioned to want more of it, not less. Nothing should ever be taken away, nothing. It is our god-given right to have everything, for as long as we want it. Oh, we’ll work for it alright, but even our work is for excess, never for lack. The Taiji symbol, comprised of interlocking shapes of light and dark, is the Taoist symbol for the eternal balancing act of the Quantum Universe. The circular motion of Yin and Yang is impossible to avoid, try as we might.
A year or so ago I watched in horror as a darling chipmunk who had been eating food we placed in our yard just for him, get scooped up in the talons of a hawk and carried away in the blink of an eye. Despite my dismay, this was a classic movement of Yin and Yang, predator and prey, give and take, come and go. Without the chipmunk the hawk cannot survive. Without the hawk the chipmunk population cannot survive. Everything is interdependent and intertwined in a manner so complex that it can never be fully understood.
Humans, we have deluded ourselves, are the apex predator on the planet. Every other life form is our “prey” in one way or another. This delusion is especially prevalent in the last few hundred years of industrial and technological cultures. We have essentially eliminated all the other apex predators – lions, wolves, etc, and have assumed it has been to our benefit. Only we really matter. How does the Tao balance such a deluded and frightened species?
Surprise! We are not the apex predator. Resting atop the food chain at the moment is a species of microscopic life whose function is to provide balance. I don’t believe the purpose of the virus is to kill a large percentage of the human population. It isn’t that sort of balancing. It is more likely here to save us – to reorient us to humanity’s true nature, to our own heart’s joy, to our very soul. We of course will fight these predators as prey always seeks to fight or escape. We will do our part to keep the balance so that we can survive and thrive.
We must understand that there is no “apex predator.” If there were, the whole cosmos would collapse. We are all one thing, predator and prey together, and it is this dynamic balance that makes the wonder of life possible. So let’s keep ourselves as safe from our predators as we possibly can, but not fall into the delusion that we are in charge, the one species that is exempt from the process of life.