The Tao Te Ching (Daodejing) was once one of my favorite books. Its minimalism is one aspect of its appeal; you don't really have to believe in anything to relate to it. Daoism is also an institutionalized religion, and as such is quite different from this text taken in abstraction. The other great classic of Daoism taken in abstraction is the Chuang Tzu (or Zhuangzi in the new transliteration). I was a big fan of this, too, long ago and far away. Ultimately, the world views inscribed therein have their limitations, but are pretty sophisticated for ancient feudal society.

There is also much that needs to be said about the ideology, politics, and duplicity of intellectual elites of both East and West who have reprocessed and imported the philosophies of India, China, and Japan into the modern West. One could discuss for example, the fascist and Nazi sympathies of Indian gurus, or the participation of Zen Buddhists in Japanese fascism. But more generally, there is the conservatism, smugness, and quietism of the comfortable and well-off who want to convince us that the world is okey-dokey as is; we just need to change our attitude. People who have suffered, on the other hand, don't tend to see things this way.

* * *

The Tao does not speak.
The Tao does not blame.
The Tao does not take sides.
The Tao has no expectations.
The Tao demands nothing of others.
The Tao is not Jewish.

-- David M. Bader, Zen Judaism: For You, A Little Enlightenment

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This reprocessing makes me think of Jurassic Park. In Jurassic park they took dinosaur DNA and inserted frog DNA wherever there was a gap. That's what allowed the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park to reproduce and run wild. By stealing small bits of other cultures one can produce something to support nearly any ideal one would wish to support. I think it's fascinating how Chinese communism relates to Daoism, Confusionism, and Buddhism. I think that learning about different ways of thinking and worldviews is incredibly important. I, however, don't want to master any one of them. Daniel Dennet mentioned that pretty much all cultures try to take over one's mind and make it inhospitable to all others. I read "Hardcore Zen" by Brad Warner. I think that Zen like many other philosophies and worldviews can be a tool but does not always apply. What are your thoughts on the Kabbalah?

It is sad but true that some religions have succeeded at making those who have the least believe that they are where they should be.
I have no particular knowledge of or interest in the Kabbalah. Most esoteric, symbolic, or quasi-mathematical metaphysical systems have some intelligence behind them, but their relationship to the objective world is not believable. But even more implausible is their relationship to the real world institutional frameworks, cultures, mores, practices and superstitions that commonplace religionists adhere to. There is something contrived about a more esoteric approach to one's religion and one's sacrosanct sacred texts.




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