Podcast 2: Lao-tze
Sources of Creative Power – Fall Semester
[Part II?: Lao-tze]
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… what is the meaning of that all — is there any meaning, and what can I do. If this ultimate question — ›What is the meaning of being?‹ — is not nihilistic, then it means that it is accompanied by the other question: ›And what can I do?‹ As soon as the ›I‹ is discovered, the number one is discovered, freedom is discovered, responsibility is discovered — and the other question is, ›What can I do?‹ And he shows what we can do — namely being identical, becoming identical with this life-sustaining and life-giving force, becoming creators of life. So his passive resistance (Lao-tze’s) is not so passive, as Gandhi’s has not been so passive. And there is more to it: We will not call it love because he does not use the term »love«; he uses the term which we can translate best as »kindness« — Yes, being of what kind, being kind to what? Being of the highest kind; being of the kind of The One itself, of Tao itself, the life-giving force itself. We can be kind of this lifegiving force, and we are that by being kind to others, to other ones, who are all a one, and with that we join the Tao. That is the way of Lao-tze because Tao means the way, as I said in the beginning; it means here the path, the way where there is no way.
The way of the Chinese and the myth where they always talked about ›the way‹ was the way all things go, the whole
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goes, the most obvious way. His is a path where there seemed to be no way, no way in being, and he found one path in being like the pathfinder, and said that if we go that path, then we go as free beings through all being and we become free men and happy men because happiness is to be in this, the one, which is not the all contained, but to be in this one which is the decisive one — namely, that which creates life, to identify ourselves with that which creates life. The religious man would say to go the way of God, of the transcendental God, this God who is the creator. The philosopher says, ›Go this path, which is the one that leads you to the one, where you can identify yourself with the life-giving force,‹ and then we can say, ›Yes, there is meaning in being because there can be meaning in being.‹ It depends on us if there is meaning in being or not. If we understand, we can find a path in which we can see that there can be meaning in being because we ourselves can provide it. We ourselves can put meaning into every kind of being by participating in the life-giving force. That is Lao-tze’s gospel in the main. I am very sorry that we did not get the time to analyze single sayings of Lao-tze. I tried it a few times but I could only talk about concepts, and I can only hope that the sayings now will be more useful to you in reading when you understand the fundamental concepts that Lao-tze uses.