Does the Tao Exist?

august 31, 2013

In the trial scene of Alice in Wonderland, the White Rabbit read an obscure verse which was apparently quite irrelevant to the case. The King triumphantly exclaimed “That’s the most important piece of evidence we’ve heard yet”. Alice flatly contradicted him and said, “I don’t believe there’s an atom of meaning in it”. The King then said, “If there’s no meaning in it, that saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn’t try to find any”.

I might make a similar comment about the Taoists. Since the Taoists makes no claim that the Tao exists, it saves them a world of trouble in trying to prove that the Tao exists. This is really Chinese common sense at its highest!

Just compare the situation with the history of Western religions thought! Good heavens, the amount of debates, battles, bloodshed and torture over the question of whether God does or does not exist! It has seemed to be even more than a life and death issue. At all costs, the Christian must convince the heathen and the atheist that God exists, in order to save his soul. At all cost, the atheist must convince the Christian that the belief in God is but a childish and primitive superstition, doing enormous harm to the cause of true progress. And so they battle and storm and bang away at each other. Meanwhile the Taoist Sage sits quietly by the stream, perhaps with a book of poems, a cup of wine, and some painting materials, enjoying the Tao to his hearts content, without ever worrying whether or not the Tao exists. The sage has no need to affirm the Tao; he is far too busy enjoying it!

(Raymond M. Smullyan, The Tao is Silent)

 

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