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« North Korea Nuke Deal | Main | 5000 Years »

February 13, 2007

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It was pleasant to visit Taipei this past week, with New Year approaching. One publication even provided a list of restaurants that would stay open for the family holiday.

The city government seems to have bought a huge number of strings of new LED lights, little pinpoints, blue and white strings mingled. Since the white LEDs are rather blue anyway, the effect was lovely.

I find that we can often find it easy to scoff at the materialistic aspects of today's society. Modern rituals such Valentine's Day or trips to Wal-Mart are viewed as support for a corrupt system. As a Taoist, I struggle constantly with my need to classify and polarize. Over and over I remind myself that these are merely names and labels - the classifications are not real. No matter where I go, I am in the Tao - it is all the Tao. Therefore, the Tao is also Valentine's Day, is also Wal-Mart. Our 'job' is merely to be this experience on this journey. This time and place includes Valentine's Day and Wal-Mart and Christmas and paper plates and 20% off sales. I experience it all as an expression of the moment and the infinite. On a less cosmic scale, as questionable as the corporate holiday motivation may be, why is it a bad idea to take a moment and remember how much someone means to you and be grateful that they are in your life? On V-Day, I delight in the idea that these beautiful little trinkets are dangled around me to remind me how much I am loved and love those around me.

I agree, Stacey, that it is a good idea to take a moment and remember how much someone means to you. But why on a particular day, and why in a routine form? Why not at more random moments and in more personal ways? As to the materialism that surrounds us, you're right, some of it may be Way. But I am always intrigued by passage 53 of the Tao Te Ching which tell us that Way is "open and smooth," but that people "adore twisty paths." It goes on to criticize "elegant robes," and "lavish food and drink," and "luxury," and ends with "it's vainglorious thievery - not the Way, not the Way at all." (Hinton translation). Thus, it suggests that there are some materialistic human activities that are not Way.

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