The “Tao” of Continuing Creation — J.X. Mason’s Blog Post of 7-21-2020.
The past few decades have seen books with titles like, “The Tao of Physics, “The Tao of Pooh,” “Zen and the Art of Archery,” “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” and many more. If you’re curious about The Tao and/or about Zen, I’ve written a 15-page Essay — Evaluating Taoism and Zen — that lays them out for general readers. The Essay is avaliable at www.ContinuingCreation.org. Today’s Blog is taken from that Essay.
Of all the world’s great spiritual traditions, Chinese Taoism and Japanese Zen are most like our own Way of Continuing Creation. In fact, “the Tao” translates into English as the Way, and your author, J.X. Mason, almost named his Book, The Tao of Continuing Creation instead of The Book of Continuing Creation.
In other Essays, we’ve said that the Process of Continuing Creation goes on and on in ever increasing elaboration, as long as the sun can supply energy to the open energy system we call Earth.
Similarly, Chapter #4” and also #34 of the Tao Te Ching read, in part,
The Tao is like a great well:
Used but never used up…
… filled with infinite possibilities…
It is hidden but always present.
The great Tao flows everywhere.
All things are born from it,
Yet it doesn’t create them.
It pours itself into its work,
Yet it makes no claim.
In other words, The Tao is immanent. It is similar to saying “Jesus is with us always.” But Taoists do not attempt to “walk with” or “talk to” the Tao as Christians believe they do with Jesus. Instead, Taoists meditate and center themselves in the flow of the Tao. The Tao is more like the flow of all Earth’s rivers and streams, or the flow of the sun’s energy through all living things, than it is to a personified God such as Jesus.
The Concept of the Tao vs. the Western Concept of God
The Tao is omnipresent; powerful but non-omnipotent; not omni-benevolent; and not omniscient (because The Tao does not sense or care what humans are doing). Why? Because the Tao is not a sentient, communicating “person.” We hold that the concept of an impersonal flow is more realistic portrayal of our world and our lives than is a world under the command and control of a person-like (anthropomorphic) God.
According to Taoism, How Was the World (Universe) Created?
To answer this question, we can do best by quoting Alan Watts’ book, The Way of Zen:
“The important difference between the Tao and the usual idea of God is that whereas God produces the world by making (wei), the Tao produces it by “non-making” (wu-wei) – which is approximately what we [westerners] mean by growing… Because the natural universe works mainly according to the principles of growth, it would seem quite odd to the Chinese mind to ask how it was made.”
— Alan Watts, The Way of Zen, 1957, Vintage Books, pp. 16-17.