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The Tao of Whatever and the Abolition of Man

February 25th, 2014 by Fr. Vasile

Entrance in JerusalemLiving in a multi-cultural post-modern world brought to us by the new era of rapid communication we are more and more exposed to cultures that are or at least seem to be very remote from our own. Although many of them are in fact foreign there are times when we find in them something that strikes a sensitive chord with us. Take for instance the concept of “Tao” found in the homonym religious movement Taoism but also in Buddhism Confucianism and even in Eastern Martial Arts.

An easy explanation of Tao would be a path or way of life. James Legge a famous researcher of Chinese culture described Taoism as “the exhibition of a way or method of living which men should cultivate as the highest and purest development of their nature.” Tao is a way in which one should conduct oneself in order to fulfill their highest potential make the best out of their existence.

I am not going to examine what this path really is in the context of far eastern thinking but would like to stop and reflect on the very proposal of following a path in life in our contemporary social context.

Nowadays we live in a postmodern world a movement that was very simply and accurately defined by Jean Francois Lyotard as “incredulity towards metanarratives.” I know these are some big words so let me put it into simpler terms: it is a general mistrust of all the big stories of religions all the empty promises of a better world through science that modernity has yet to deliver all the hollow assurances of utopic societies like communism socialism capitalism and all the other “isms” out there. The postmodern man does not believe in the existence of a well-defined path in life anymore. The disheartened postmodern man lives an existence that is pathless; he seizes the moment based on ephemeral feelings without thinking so much about the connections between yesterday and tomorrow.

Ask a teenager to conform to your moral principles religious or any other kind and you will get back a single-word answer: “Whatever!” This simple world expresses his attitude of life; he does not care if your principles are good or based on science or faith or anything else. All he cares about i…

Read the entire article here on the OCN blog.

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