Taoist Ideology

A better description of Taoist beliefs than I would be able to give, no matter how hard I tried, even though I am Taoist, myself.

Quotes taken from Greg Iles' "The Footprints of God,"

which I consider to be one of the best books I have ever read.

These quotes have been taken from my personal favorite book, which describes the Taoist ideologies in depth, without naming most (if any) of it as 'Taoist'. The origins of the universe as listed here in quote #2 are not Taoism, but I consider them good enough food for thought to be put here.

 First Quote

  "Do you remember anything? The seizure at the church?"
  I remembered kneeling, then thrusting my fingers through a hole in a silver plate. A current of energy had shot into my arm, straight up to my brain, a current too intense to endure. I felt as though my mind were a tiny glove, and the hand of a giant was trying to force its way inside it. My body began to shake, then...
  "I remember falling."
  "Do you remember anything after that?"
  I fell toward the floor, but before I reached it, the boundary of my body melted away, and I felt an oceanic unity with everything around me: the earth and rock beneath the church, the birds nesting among the stones above, the flowers in the courtyard and the pollen they loosed on the wind. I was not falling but floating, and I saw that a deeper reality underlay the world of things, a pulsing matrix in which all boundaries were illusory, where they pollen grain was not distinct from the wind, where matter and energy moved in an eternal dance, and life and death were but changing states of both. Yet even as I hovered there, floating in the world like a sentient jellyfish, I sensed that beneath that pulsing matrix of matter and energy lay something still deeper, a thrumming subtrate as ephemeral and eternal as the laws of mathematics, invisible but immuntable, governing all without force.
  The thrumming was deep and distant, like turbines churning in the heart of a dam. As I listened, I discerned a pattern, more numerical than melodic, as of an undiscovered music whose notes and scales lay just beyond my understanding. I tuned my mind to the sound, searching for repetitions, the elusive keys to any code. Yet though I listened with all my being, I could not read meaning in the sound. It was like listening to a rainstorm and trying to hear the pattern of the individual drops as they hit the ground. Something in me craved knowledge of the underlying order, the vast sheet music that scored the falling of the rain.
  And then I understood. The pattern I was searching for was no pattern at all. It was randomness. A profound randomness that pervaded the seeming order of the world. And in that moment, I began to see as I had never seen before, to hear what few men had ever heard, the voice of--

  "David? Can you hear me?" 


Second quote

(Note: The Christian references are not what I believe, and I do not think that it is what the author of the book believes either. They work, however, as an effective way to get Jews, Christians, and Muslims to consider these concepts. This part is more food for thought than anything.)

  She slipped her hand into mine and leaned on my shoulder. “We haven’t really talked since you came out of the coma.”
  “I know.”
  “Are we going to?”
  “If you like. But you’re not going to like what you hear.”
  “Did you dream?”
  “Yes and no. It wasn’t like my old dreams. Not like movies. It was like being deaf for a lifetime and then hearing Bach. An indescribable feeling of revelation. And now…I know things.”
  “That sounds like an acid trip. What kinds of things do you know?”
I thought about it. “The kinds of things that five-year-olds want to know. Who are we? Where did we come from? Does God exist?”
  Rachel sat up, and I could tell she was slipping into her professional persona. “Tell me about it.”
  “I will. But you have to drop all your preconceptions. This is Saul-on-the-road-to-Damascus stuff.”
She chuckled softly, her eyes knowing. “You think I expected something else?”
  Part of me wanted to remain silent. The things I’d shared with Rachel in the past had stretched her willingness to believe, yet compared to the revelations of my coma, they were conventional. The safest way to begin was with something familiar. “Do you remember my very first dream? The recurring one?”
  “The paralyzed man sitting in the dark room?”
  “Yes. He can’t see or hear anything. Do you remember what he asks himself?”
  “ ‘Who am I? Where did I come from?’ ”
  “Right. You said the man in the dream was me, remember?”
  She brushed a dark strand of hair out of her eyes. “You still don’t think he was?”
  “Who was he, then?”
  The muscles tensed beneath the oval pane of her face. “I should have guessed.”
  “Don’t panic. I’m using that word as a kind of shorthand, because we don’t have a word to communicate what I experienced. God is nothing like we imagine him to be. He’s not male or female. He’s not even a spirit. I say ‘he’ only as a conversational convenience.”
  “That’s good to know.” A wry laugh. “You’re telling me God is a paralyzed man with no memory sitting in a pitch-black room?”
  “In the beginning, yes.”
  “Is he powerless?”
  “Not completely. But he thinks he is.”
  “I don’t understand.”
  “To understand the beginning, you have to understand the end. When we get to the end, you’ll see it all.”
  She looked far from convinced.
  “Remember the dream? The man in the room becomes obsessed with his questions, so obsessed that he becomes the questions. ‘Who am I? where did I come from? Was I always here?’ Then he sees a black ball floating in space ahead of him. Darker than the other darkness.”
  Rachel nodded. “Do you know what the ball is now?”
  “Yes. A singularity. A point of infinite density and temperature and pressure.”
  “A black hole? Like what existed before the Big Bang?”
  “Exactly. Do you know what existed before that?”
  She shrugged. “No one does.”
  “I do.”
  “The desire of God to know.”
  Curiosity filled her eyes. “To know what?”
  “His identity.”
  Rachel took my hand in hers and began massaging my palm with her thumb. “The black ball exploded in your dream, right? Like a hydrogen bomb, you said.”
  “Yes. It devoured the darkness at a fantastic rate. Yet the man in the dream always remained outside the explosion.”
  “How do you interpret that image? God watching the birth of the universe?”
  “Yes, but I don’t interpret it. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen what God saw.”
  Her thumb stopped moving. She could not hide the sadness in her eyes.
  “I know what you’re thinking,” I said.
  “David, you can’t read my mind.”
  “I can read your eyes. Look, to understand what I’m telling you, you’re going to have to stop being a psychiatrist for twenty minutes.”
  She sighed deeply. “I’m trying. I really am. Describe what you saw for me.”
  “I described it for you weeks ago. I just didn’t understand it then. That explosion was the Big Bang. The birth of matter and energy from a singularity. The birth of time and our universe.”
  “And the rest of your dreams?”
  “You remember what I saw. After the bang, the expanding universe began displacing God. This didn’t happen in three dimensions, but that’s the only way we can think about it. Think of God as a limitless ocean. Genesis described something like that. No waves, no tension, not even bubbles. Perfect harmony, total resolution, absolute inertia.”
  “Go on.”
  “Think of the birth of the universe as a bubble forming at the center of that ocean. Forming and expanding like an explosion, displacing the water at the speed of light.”
  “All right.”
  “What happens inside that bubble is what I saw in my later dreams. The births of galaxies and stars, the formation of planets, all the rest. I saw the history of our universe unfold. You called it ‘Hubble telescope stuff.’ ”
  “I remember.”
  “Eventually my dreams focused on the Earth. Meteors crashed into the primitive atmosphere, amino acids formed. Evolution went from inorganic to organic. Microbes became multicellular, and the race was on, right up the chain to fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, primates…”
  “Man,” Rachel finished.
  “Yes. It took ten billion years just to get to biological evolution. Then hundreds of millions of years of mutations to get to man. And all that added up to nothing in the eyes of God.”
  Rachel knit her eyebrows. “Why? Didn’t God intend all those creatures to exist? To evolve?”
  “No. It’s not like that. God was surprised by all of this.”
  “Well…I think the feeling was more like déjà vu. He’d seen something like it before. Not exactly like it, but what he saw made him remember things.”
  She turned in her seat and stared at me. “And the creation of life meant nothing to him?”
  “Not in the beginning. But then—out of that teeming mass of life—a spark as bright as the Big Bang flashed in his eye.”
  “What spark?”
  “Consciousness. Human intelligence. Somewhere in Africa, a tool-making hominid with a relatively large brain perceived the fact of its own death. It perceived a future in which it would no longer exist. That hominid became not only self-conscious, but conscious of time. That moment was an epiphany for God.”
  “Because consciousness was the first thing in that terrifying explosion of matter and energy that God recognized as being like himself.”
  “That’s what God is? Awareness?”
  “I think so. Awareness without matter or energy. Pure information.”
  Rachel was silent for a while, and I couldn’t read her eyes. “Where is all this going?” she asked finally.
  “To a very provocative place. But let’s stay with the dreams for now. Man evolved quickly. He tilled the ground, built cities, recorded history. And God felt something like hope.”
  “Hope for what?”
  “That he might finally learn the nature of his own being.”
  “Did God answer his questions by watching mankind?”
  “No. Because after a certain point, evolution stopped. Not biological evolution, but psychological evolution. Almost as quickly as man created societies, he destroyed them. He sacked cities, salted fields, slaughtered his brothers, raped his sisters, abused his children. Man had unlimited potential, yet he was trapped in a cycle of self-destructive behavior, unable to evolve beyond an essentially brutal existence.”
  “And God had nothing to do with this?”
  “No. God can’t control what happens inside the bubble. He doesn’t exist in the world of matter and energy. Not as God, anyway. He could only watch and try to understand. As the centuries passed, he became obsessed with man, as he’d once been obsessed with himself. Why couldn’t man break the cycle of violence and futility? God focused all his being on the bubble, searching for a weak point, for a way into the matrix of matter and energy that was displacing him.”

<Those non-Christian, or otherwise offended by Christian ideology, can skip ahead>
  “It happened. God found himself looking at the bubble from the inside. Through the eyes of a human being. Feeling human skin, smelling the Earth, looking up into a mother’s face. His mother’s face.”
Rachel had gone still. “You’re talking about Jesus now, aren’t you? You’re saying God went into Jesus of Nazareth.”
  I nodded.
  “You’re saying exactly what Christians believe. Only…you make it sound like an accident.”
  “It was, in a way. God exerted his focus upon the world, and Jesus was the door that opened to him. Why that particular child? Who knows?”
  “Did all of God enter Jesus?”
  “No. Imagine a burning candle. You hold a second candle up to that flame, light it, and then take it away. The new candle has been lit, but the original flame remains. That’s how it worked. Part of God went into Jesus. The rest remained outside our universe. Outside the bubble.”
  “But Jesus had God’s power?”
  “No. Inside the bubble, God is subject to the laws of our universe.”
  “And the miracles? Walking on water? Raising the dead?”
  “Jesus was a healer, not a magician. Those stories were useful to those who built a religion around him.”
She was shaking her head like someone with vertigo. “I don’t know what to say.”
  “Think about it. Very little is known about Jesus’ early life. We have the legend of his birth. Some childhood stories that are probably apocryphal. Then suddenly he springs to prominence fully formed at the age of thirty. I’ve often wondered why people don’t ask more questions about Jesus’ youth. Was he a perfect child? Did he love a woman? Father children? Did he sin like all men? Why this huge gap in his life?”
  “I suppose you have an answer?”
  “I think I do. God entered the world to try to understand why mankind could evolve no further. To do that, he lived as a man. And by the time he reached adulthood, he had his answer. The pain and futility of human life was made bearable by the ineffable joys that human beings could experience. Beauty, laughter, love…even the simple pleasures of eating fruit or looking at an infant. Through Jesus, God felt these wonderful things. Yet he also saw the doom of mankind as a species.”

<Those offended by Christian beliefs are able to continue reading here.>
  “Man had flourished in a violent world because he had the primitive instincts to match that world. Yet if he was to continue to evolve, Man had to put those instincts behind him. Evolution would never remove them. Evolution wasn’t designed to produce moral beings. It’s a blind engine, a mechanism of competitive warfare geared only toward survival.”
  Rachel looked thoughtful. “I think I see where you’re going.”
  “Tell me.”
  “Through Jesus, God tried to persuade man to turn away from his primitive instincts, away from the animal side of himself.”
  “Exactly. What did Jesus say and do? Forget what his followers grafted onto his life. Just think of his words and deeds.”
  “Love thy neighbor as thyself. If a man strikes you on the right cheek, offer him your left. He denied his human instincts.”
  “Give up all that you have and follow me,” I quoted. “Jesus lived by example, and people were inspired to follow that example.”