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« Zhuangzi's Dreaming Doubt | Main | Another Taoist Christmas »

December 21, 2009


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Do we fear the dark or do we love the dark so much that we are driven to ornament it?

My parents used to decorate their house with many lights for Christmas. Nothing extravagant, but very bright and lovely. They later moved to a very well-lit street and, after decorating the house similarly for a couple years, gave up after realizing that Christmas lights surrounded by street lights lose their luster.

But is it really the darkness itself that people fear or is it those things that we traditionally associate with darkness? Were darkness not used as a cover for surprise attacks (whether by nocturnal predators or enemy tribes), associated with the perils of navigating the wilderness without being able to see the path (Hansel and Gretel, anyone?), or regarded as the inseparable companion of bone-chilling cold (especially in the winter), we might very well be able to regard it with Taoist indifference. But then again, perhaps a Taoist would not care about any of those dangers either, seeing life as merely an expression of Way, sort of like the Chuang Tzu story of the old man and his buddies talking about what would happen if they lost various limbs. For those of us who harbor a preference for staying alive, though (black ops soldiers excepted), darkness doesn't have as much going for it as does light.


Isn't it all about balance? If we didn't have winter, how could we so fully appreciate mean, Spring?

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