Tao it Yoursoph Christianity
I love this passage, written by someone named Jingjing in 8th century China. It represents a spontaneous merger of Christianity and Taoist philosophy, in the same way that early Christian Fathers tried to understand revelation through the lens of Greek philosophy:
"In the beginning was the natural constant, the true stillness of the Origin, and the primordial void of the Most High. The Spirit of the void emerged as the Most High Lord, moving in mysterious ways to enlighten the holy ones. He is Ye Su, my True Lord of the Void, who embodies the three subtle and wondrous bodies, and who was condemned to the cross so that the people of the four directions might be saved.
"My Lord Ye Su, the one emanating in three subtle bodies, hid His true power, became a human, and came on behalf of the Lord of Heaven to preach the good teachings. These teachings can restore goodness to sincere believers, deliver those living within the boundaries of the eight territories, refine the dust and transform it into truth, reveal the gate of the three constants, lead us to life, and destroy death.
"The Lord set afloat a raft of salvation and compassion so we might use it to ascend to the palace of light and be united with Spirit. He revealed the workings of the Origin, and he gave us the method of purification by water. Thus we purify our hearts and return to the simple and natural Way of the truth. This truth cannot be named, but its power surpasses all expectations. When forced to give it a name, we call it the Religion of Light. The teachings of the Religion of Light are like the resplendent sun: they have the power to dissolve the dark realm and destroy evil forever."
Hieromonk Damascene treats Lao Tzu as a forerunner, even a prophet, of Christ, and sees the tao as identical to the logos, the difference being that the insights of Taoism are not dependent on any divine revelation. Rather, they represent the summit of what is achievable by the natural mind, through the disciplined silencing of one's lower self.
Both Christ and Lao Tzu refer to our spirit as the light; later Chinese teachers would call it the original mind, while ancient Christian ascetics adopted the term nous, meaning "spirit" or "higher mind."
Both Taoism and Christianity are no different than any other yoga (in the generic sense of the term), in that they teach a way to a separate the higher and lower minds. That is, our higher mind is obscured behind a blizzard of undisciplined thoughts, horizontal fantasies, and reactive emotions that turn round and round the unmoored axis of the ego, a general term for the lower self.
The ego, in the sense we are using the term, is not our true Subject. In fact, it is more like an internalized object that lives parasitically on our true subjectivity. It is shaped by personal, cultural, and historical conditioning, and is largely a reflection of various accidental and contingent factors.
Have you ever met someone who was almost pure "object," with almost none of the light of the higher self shining through? Someone who has never had an original thought, someone whose passions and interests seem almost entirely programmed by the environment around them? I meet many such people. You might say that they have fallen all the way down, into the horizontal obscurity of quasi-animal existence. It is a kind of pleasant purgatory, or perhaps a hell with no visible chains or walls.
Remember that when we speak of the "vertical," this is to be understood metaphorically. In reality there are not two selves, one above the other. Rather, we are dealing with two poles of the same being, one extending outwardly toward the terminal moraine (or moron) of the senses, the other extending inwardly, beyond even the horizon of our particularized sense of "I am."
There is no bright line in this interior continuum, but you might say that there is a sort of "vector flow" that moves in one direction or the other. What I mean by this is that our normal consciousness "flows" downstream in the direction of Subject ---> object, washing ashore on the rocky beach of material reality. It seems that most people are sons of this beach.
One of the tricks of meditation, contemplation, and prayer is to reverse this vector flow, as we turn our gaze up and in, toward the nonlocal source of consciousness. It is only here, close to this source, that we can say with Meister Eckhart that "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."
One cannot get through life without the ego, any more than we can make do without a body. In this regard, the ego is like a "virtual organ" that has a role and a purpose. However, in the proper spiritual economy the ego should be subordinate to the spirit, just as the body should be subordinate to the ego.
Here again, how many trousered apes of the postmodern variety reverse this hierarchy? One of the baleful effects of our neo-pagan times is that this lowerarchy is elevated to an actual goal, the end of all being: Obey your thirst. Have it your way. Because I'm worth it. Image is everything. Just do it. Don't bug me, I'm eating. Free your a** and your mind will follow.
The inner light can become almost totally obscured. In fact, one of the ways to prove to yourself that this light exists is to spend a little time with people in whom the light is entirely absent. You won't need to look far. Dailykos. MTV. MSM. Most of academia. These might resemble real people if you look only with the eyes of the flesh.
But these carnal beings are not real people. Alone among the animals, it is entirely unnatural for human beings to be wholly "natural," for this is to live entirely in the horizontal world bequeathed to us by natural selection. But natural selection does not govern the vertical. Rather, verticality and inward mobility operate along the lines of supernatural election.
The ego is puffed up with vanity. It enjoys being king. Under the spell of self-sufficiency, it begins to ignore the promptings that emanate from the father shore of our being. The vespers become muffled, and pretty soon you are Master of Your illusory Domain. I think therefore I am. Period. Reality is a form of my sensibility. Truth is relative. Perception is reality. Without me, it's nothing.
You have devoured the apple.
This is the primordial calamity, the Sickness That Has No Name. Now you are on the run. Immersed in its own immediate gratification, the ego lives a life of perpetual distraction. Anything to avoid turning around and seeing the hellhound that is on your trail. Worse yet, the hound of heaven.
Our higher self is born of a voidgin and descends from eternity. The ego, however, is a child of time. It is an extension of the world. Therefore, it instinctively turns for comfort and reassurance to the very things that gave it birth, nurtured it, and have made it wrong all along. Things can get expensive here for the Freudian ego, for freudom isn't free. It requires a lot of mirrors and morers, a lot of fancy props and flattering props.
This is why you can never get enough of what you really don't need. Never! It's what you call a "bad infinity," the mirror image of the benign infinity of the divine mind. Larger distractions. More elaborate escapes. More artificial gratifications. More complicated psychodramas. Trying vainly to drain more pleasure out of things than there is in them. Moooooorrrrrrrre!
But the wool only stretches so far. Try as you might, you can't pull it any further. The third eye sees what you're up to anyway.
Interestingly, you have arrived where you are through an elaborate and complicated maze of soph-deception. And yet, the way back is so simple. It's always a straight line. And very short. If you are a fabulously wealthy person living in a two-dimensional world, you can go anywhere you want in flatland to try to "get away from it all." But there is an easier way. For, no matter where you are in flatland, the third dimension is equally accessible. And it's free.
Well, not free. But it's a bargain nonetheless. It'll only cost you your life. Yes, there is only one way out.
You must commit cluelesside.
Guess what? I'd like to continue, but today I must face another kind of gallows, when I must stare into the ghastly countenance of His Accountancy this afternoon. Yes, time for my annual fleecing by the attax dog, and I haven't even started "making my arrangments." So we'll have to continue this line of inquiry tomorrow. If I have any blood left. For, as a perceptive, albeit psychotic, patient of mine once said, "you can only get so much blood out of a turnip."