Philosophy Response Paper

Section One
The principle of the Tao or the Way of the universe is not only difficult to explain it cannot be truly described.  It is like telling someone that I am tall and short at the same time, or that I am both rich and poor, or that I am living in the past and in the future at the same time.  While we may attempt to express its meaning, we cannot truly do it successfully.  However, it is the key to understanding all mysteries about everything.

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao, expresses the idea that anyone who claims that he or she has successfully described the Way of the universe is lying, misguided or ignorant.  It is impossible to give it a name, but if anyone does, it is not the eternal name.   If you call it X, then it is not Y.
To truly understand the Tao, you have to forsake language and names.  Youll have to understand it through intuition.  Your intuition will help you understand heaven and earth or the universe and reason will help you shape it into its many forms, including ten thousand things.

If you are subject to your compulsions or desires, you only understand things from your five senses.  You judge a person by their looks.  You only eat tasty food.  Or you only listen to words that please you.  On the other hand, if you have extinguished your lusts, passions or desires, you judge a person by their character, you eat nutritious food even if it is tasteless, or you listen to the teachings of others even if they speak words that you dont want to hear.

But while these two states differ in name they are actually from the same source.  If you do more on one side, you will swing to the other side like a pendulum.  For example, if you insist on practicing abstinence and teach it to others, one of these days, you may end up hypocritically indulging on pleasure.

For many people, this darkness is a great mystery.  It is darkness within darkness or a mystery that is difficult to explain. But finding the correct balance between the opposing states is the gate to all mystery.  Understanding moderation and harmony, along with the correct ratios and proportions of different states, leads to a better life.

Section 53
If you are sensible, even if only a little, you will prefer to live a balanced or harmonious life along the main road.  But life develops many temptations.  Because of changing circumstances, sometimes you indulge more.  But during other times, you try to avoid all pleasures of the flesh.  During these times, you are sidetracked.

During times of indulgence, you wear fashionable and trendy clothes.  You eat delicious food in banquets.  You buy the most effective security system, and you have the most potent weapons.  You buy an assortment of luxury goods, but these are all more than what you can use.  Much of the excess food is thrown into the garbage.  Your obsolete equipment or electronics simply become trash, along with your old clothes and cars.

By doing all these you have robbed others of happiness.  When you live in excess and indulgence, you take away from others.   While the rich become richer, the poor become poorer.  For example, every diamond ring that you wear requires hundreds of feet of land to be mined.  Farm land may be converted for mining or development, and as diamond buyers scramble for scarce mined resources, they will pay more money to people who mine it.  The lure of money attracts many outlaws.  They may steal farm land and convert it for mining.  Consequently, civil war breaks out, and a famine develops.  Millions of people die of starvation and war, and the blood diamonds are shipped to Europe and America.  They are then polished and shaped to form your wedding ring, but this form of extravagance is really unnecessary.  If you do this, you are a robber baron.

Of course, you do not want to be sidetracked also to the other side of the road or pendulum.  If you neglect yourself or your needs completely, you may starve to death. For example, in India, some people abstain from all worldly pleasures.  Some are so extreme that they do not eat anything at all, not even fruits and vegetables and they do this willingly, thinking it is for their benefit.  They say they eat only sunlight and rely solely on its energy for sustenance so they end up very skinny and malnourished.  Somehow, because of the circumstances in India where war and desire have upset the balance of nature, they have sidetracked to the opposite side of the road or swung to the other side of the pendulum.

But living a simple or moderate life is the way of the Tao.  By being natural and accepting things the way they are, you can attain happiness.


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