Vision: Where There’s a Tao There’s a Way by Howard Hanger

January 17, 2019 |

This quarter at The Jube, as part of our celebrations, we will read ancient words from the Tao Te Ching rather than the Hebrew/Christian scriptures. Every Sunday, when Howard says, “Hear these ancient words” and you hear a finger cymbal “ding” from the band, you will hear a chapter from the Tao Te Ching. And why, you ask, are we doing this?  Well…

  • Tao Te Ching contains a heap of wisdom.
  • We’ve been reading from the H/C for 30 years.
    Tao Te Ching is short.
  • You can read it in a bathroom sitting.
  • There are some striking similarities between the Bible and the Tao, and…Why not?

Similarities:

  • Both the H/C and the Tao date from approximately 4th – 6th century BCE.
  • We have little or no clue about the authorship of either. Lao Tzu or Laozi is traditionally credited as the author of the Tao. Since the name Laozi means “Old Master” scholars are unclear if he even existed and suggest that the work may, like the Bible, actually be a collection of the works of various authors transliterated over and over through the years.
  • Both the H/C and Tao are understood to be guides to living. Tao literally means “The Way” and the H/C teaches that following God’s commandments are the way. Both are very clear about how to live fully and happily.

Disparities:

  • The Tao Te Ching is not Deist. There no god mentioned in any chapter. The H/C is all about God and Jesus, the Son of God. The only two H/C books which don’t mention God are Esther and Song of Songs.
  • In the Tao Te Ching, the universe springs from the Tao and is guided impersonally by the Tao. In the H/C, God creates everything from the Gitgo and  interacts constantly with everything. Especially humans.
  • The Tao does not mention afterlife. For the Tao, all things are eternal so death is simply part of the eternal process.

One of things we teach at Jubilee! is that scripture – any scripture – is not about providing answers but leading us to ask better questions. The Tao Te Ching does that and any unfamiliarity with its teaching triggers even more questions. By definition, “scripture” is the sacred writing of a religion, so it could be argued that the Tao Te Ching is more a philosophical work than religious. However, in China and Taiwan, Taoism functions like any conventional religion with temples, monasteries, priests, rituals and even gods and goddesses.

We will not be practicing any Taoist rituals for the next quarter. Chanting in Chinese has never been our forte. We will rather focus on what better questions we might ask from the teaching of the Tao Te Ching and what similarities we might find with the teachings of the H/C.  One of our most repeated mantras at Jubilee! is “There is far more going on right now than we can ever imagine.” Our goal with the Tao Te Ching is to open our imagination wider and wider and allow our connection with Life and Faith to deepen.

The theme for this Via Creativa quarter is “Un-covering, Unearthing, Unveiling.”  Our hope is that by uncovering, unearthing and unveiling the Tao Te Ching, in the words of Tom Robbins, our souls will enlarge and our brains light up.