Body and soul, pt.1 (injury)

I have decided in my hamstrings I do not want to run for a while.



XLI – “It is the way alone that excels in bestowing”

When the best student hears about the way

He practises it assiduously;

When the average student hears about the way

It seems to him one moment there and gone the next;

When the worst student hears about the way

He laughs out loud.

If he did not laugh

It would be unworthy of being the way.

Hence the Chien yen has it:

Thwa way that is bright seems dull;

The way that leads forward seems to lead backward;

The way that is even seems rough.

The highest virtue is like the valley;

The sheerest whiteness seems sullied;

Ample virtue seems defective;

Vigorous virtue seems indolent;

Plain virtue seems soiled;

The great square has no corners.

The great vessel takes long to complete;

The great note is rarefied in sound;

The great image has no shape.

The way conceals itself in being nameless.

It is the way alone that excels in bestowing and in accomplishing.


(Shouldn’t there be a full stop after soiled and a semi-colon after corners?)

Do I think of the way as a moving, or way or path upon which I move?

In its movement it can as little be held as can time. We do not move through (much less along) time; time moves through us; time is the way: the way bestows longevity.

As a path, the way is one which conceals itself. You cannot see it narrowing ahead of you, nor behind, yet it keeps you from stumbling: move in gentle time with feeling footseps.



On “The Future of an Illusion” (pt.2)

Freud contrasts religion and science as methods for coming to terms with ‘the natural world’. Science is an advance. Inasmuch as religion is viewed as an attempt to overcome the threats of the natural world – and not a ritual representation of the sacrifice(s) ‘civilization’ is founded upon – he is right.

F. says we must now look to science and reason to deal with nature and not religion and belief. Psychoanalysis is a science, F. insisting  “that if experience should show…that we have been mistaken, we will give up our expectations”. But psychoanalysis is not really accepted as a science – probably because The Unconscious is not an empirical thing! – and psychoanalysts probably find themselves pestered by scientific philistines as do theologians.

I think psychoanalysis (like Marxism) is very good in many ways. And I do not wish to Make God Great Again. But participation in a representative ritual sacrifice to ‘G-D’ is something I have no desire or need to do without, as far as I can tell. It orients me towards the possibility of peaceful human existence (civilization). Whoever requires no help requires no sacrifice to be made. That I require no help! – believing in myself as a human being which needs no help seems to me sillier than believing in a fairy being, let alone ‘G-D’. So I find myself still going to mass.

Finally, after mass: the whole discussion was a helpless reduction of human experience and tradition to a laughable attempt at a big idea.


On “The Future of an Illusion” (pt.1)

In I and II, Freud shows how civilisation (I would like to put that in speech marks, but F doesn’t) requires a sacrifice of man’s instinct.

For F., religion is the most important way in which civilizations’ precepts are internalized (“the most important item in the psychical inventory of civilization”), by offering a substitutionary satisfaction for the instincts renounced.

But when he comes to discuss religion, he views it through the prism of civilization’s raison d’etre “to defend us against nature”. (And he does not mean human nature, but earthquakes and the like. ) F.’s take on the nature is as follows: to tame nature, man humanizes nature. Then man projects a father on whom nature is reliant and this is God, who is just and benevolent. Man’s anxieties are laid at the feet of God.

Why does F. not make the link between sacrifice and religion in the first place? That man’s greatest vulnerability is to himself? The centre piece of religion for F. is instead “the natural world”. But this is wrong, even developmentally, because the mother is “the natural world” for babies. That is to say, our primordial engagement with “the natural world” is a human engagement with our mother (or nurse).  When will she come? Which is her great sacrifice.

Religion is the ritual representation of the sacrifices upon which peaceful civilization or human existence depends generally and in total. God is the infinite or total horizon or direction of this reality, and theology follows from this.

XL – “Weakness is the means the way employs”

Turning back is how the way moves;

Weakness is the means the way employs.

The myriad creatures in the world are born from Something, and Something from Nothing.


The way employs a means? One might think a way is a means (to an end).

In t’ai chi we practice turning from the waist, to ward off an attack. This is turning back: guiding the hostile force into the emptiness behind you. The way’s weakness is its letting hostility run off into this void, like the swine herd running off a cliff. The way is peacefulness.