What “Free Thinkers” (and others) Can Learn from the Tao

Even as someone that does not associate her/himself with any religion, I do believe there are things we can learn from them. For instance, I believe in the aphorism attributed to Jesus that states “We know a tree by the fruit it bears.” Yes indeed, we do know a great deal about a tree by its fruit, and a person by their actions and words.

This being said, I have been rather disappointed by the actions of many of those who consider themselves “free thinkers” as of late—specifically those so-called “free thinkers” that have gone on rampages against other so-called “free thinkers”--and the chaos that has resulted. Actually, whether one considers themselves “free thinkers” or not, ad hominem, strawmanning, etc, do nothing to promote better ways of thinking. Better ways of thinking come via the dialectical process and arguments. Arguments are subject to counter arguments, and without subjecting them to fallacies, we can come to better conclusions. So I thought I would give anyone who has participated in this type of behaviour something to think about. That is—The Tao.

The Tao is “The Way”--and if there was ever a religion that promoted wisdom—the Tao is it. The Tao is from the Tao Te Ching written as a handbook for leaders by Lao Tzu over 2500 years ago in China I myself adhere to many of its principles. Peace, the Tao teaches us, is an inside job, and only when we can find peace within ourselves can we see more clearly, act effectively, and cooperate with the energies within and around us to create a more peaceful world.  So here, I would like to share some of that wisdom with those that either feel attacked, or are doing the attacking. You see, according to the Tao:

“Those who know they do not know
Gain wisdom.
Those who pretend they know
Remain ignorant.

Those who acknowledge their weakness
Become strong.
Those who flaunt their power
Will lose it.

Wisdom and power
Follow truth above all.
For truth is the way of the Tao.  (Tao 71)

The atheist/humanist/free thinking community does not do anything to promote “wisdom” by participating in these continuing conflicts with each other, and those in positions of power within the community should resist these conflicts, as they do nothing to promote better ways of thinking.

According to the Tao:

“The Tao person
Never strives to appear great,
Which is how true greatness is achieved.” (Tao 34)

Problems arise when egos overcome wisdom, and according to the Tao:

“Great success, like disgrace,
Can bring great trouble.
Success which advances ego
Can make you lose your way.” (Tao 13)

Let's hope, for the sake of humanism/freethinking/secularism and better ways of thinking and looking at our world—success will not make anyone lose their way.
Cathy Cooper


vfy0 said...

Interesting post. I'm a freethinker and a Taoist (as I believed). They share very similar qualities, and it's hard to distinguish before doing tons of research or arguments.

As I understand, both religions are fact based, and they adhere to infinite possibility. Although Taoist had some amount of immortality to be discussed, it is still very interesting to compare and contrast the two.