We all are the same, and we all are different. Why can't we take that on faith, and live as though it is so? We take the craziest things on faith. "There is no such thing as global warming!" Why take that on faith? "COVID-19 is a hoax!" Why take that on faith? "If you don't believe in Jesus and toe the line, you're going to hell!" Why take that on faith? Why don't we take things on faith that believing them to be so makes an actual, tangible, difference for good in our life? In our own, personal, life? Why take things on faith that are going to make life difficult for other people? Why believe some people are inherently better than other people? More deserving? Less deserving? Why not believe that we are all different, and we are all the same? And grant everybody the benefit of the doubt for being different, and treat everybody like we would want to be treated for being the same?
Our perspective is all we have to work with. The journey we keep talking about-- the Hero's Journey, the Spiritual Journey-- comes down to growing up, and growing up consists of changing our mind about what's important again and again and again over the full course of our life. Changing how we see things makes all the difference in enabling us to deal with things and do what needs to be done about things. My most powerful personal experience in how changing the way we see things changes things came in Ferriday, Louisiana in 1973. Ferriday is in Concordia Parish, and Concordia Parish is surrounded by water, bounded by the Tensas River, the Red River, the Black River and the Mississippi River. 1973 was the year of the 100-year flood. The Mississippi River was threatening to top the restraining levy, and causing the other rivers to back up and threaten the levies holding them in place. The Morganza Spillway is on the Mississippi River at the southeastern edge of the Parish, put in place to prevent the Missisippi from diverting course into the Achafalaya River Basin. The citizens in Concordia Parish were as one in beseeching the US Army Corps of Engineers to open the Morganza Spillway allowing water from the Mississippi to flow into the Achafalaya and reduce the pressure on the protective levies surrounding the Parish. The Corps of Engineers sent a spokesperson to address the issue at a public gathering. He said, "You are thinking of the river as a bathtub, and if you open the drain you will empty the tub." Heads nodded as one throughout the crowd. "You have to see the river as a garden hose, and no matter how many holes you poke in the hose below a certain point, the hose above that point is going to remain full of water." A gasp went up from the crowd. The anger left the room. And people began in that moment to come to terms with the truth of their situation. Coming to terms with the truth of our situation is all that is ever required of us in each situation as it arises. Changing how we see things to enable ourselves to see things as they are is the sine qua non of being able to respond to our circumstances in ways that are called for in each situation as it arises all our life long. We change the way we see by changing the metaphors we use to describe the circumstances we face. Changing our base metaphor changes everything. Instantly.
Lao Tzu may as well have been a contemporary of Genghis Khan, may as well have been his neighbor, or his brother. Mao tse Tung was well-versed in the Tao te Ching, and knew about the Buddha and Zen. What does the Tao have to say Genghis Khan and Mao tse Tung can hear? This is Yin/Yang come to life in our lives. The ascendance of the masculine over the feminine begin with the advance of the hunter/warrior who demanded immediate results now and came to the fore by stomping out the compassion and the patience of the planter/harvester in order to force their way upon the world. The warrior's way of doing things was given philosophical/theological assist by Zarathustra in Persia and his separation of reality into Darkness and Light, Right and Wrong, Good and Evil-- and giving impetus and permission to the warrior impulse to destroy what they did not like and call their actions good. The Tao is a different way of doing things. Jesus expressed his Taoist heart with his "seed in the earth," "yeast in the dough," "light on a hill," analogies, and his model of dying instead of killing, and his call to "Do it like I'm doing it!" "No one comes to the Father but by me!" "By doing it like I am doing it!" But the world has a better/quicker/faster way: "Kill the Infidel!" (With "the Infidel" being everyone who doesn't do it the way the world wants it done. When Lao Tzu, and the Buddha and Jesus come up against Genghis Khan and Mao tse Tung and the United States Calvary riding over the hill, it is going to be over like that (Snaps fingers). And here we are. "Right forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne." What's a body to do? What chance does the Tao have? This is the eternal duality/dichotomy/contradiction. The Buddha would say, "When you meet an elephant coming toward you along the path, get off the path!" Zen would say, "The law of the fishes states: The big fish eat the little fish and the little fish have to hide." Jesus would say, "You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye! A tooth for a tooth! But I say unto you: Do not resist evil, and if someone were to strike you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you for your coat, give him your cloak as well. And whoever forces you to go a mile, go with him two miles." The Dalai Lama left Tibet when the Chinese army invaded. And the Dalai Lama's bodyguards carry automatic weapons. What we do about Genghis Khan and Mao tse Tung in their present manifestations is up to us moment-to-moment, situation-by-situation, day-by-day, with the tools of imagination, creativity, compromise, acquiescence, accommodation, adjustment, sacrifice, resistance, opposition, warfare and surrender at our disposal-- doing what is called for by the situation at hand in each situation as it arises. We live in a Yin/Yang world, and must bear the pain living on the interface, on the borderline, between irreconcilable polarities, carrying in our body the agony of this eternal cross, dying again and again to rise from the dead again and again, to die again, to rise from the dead again, to die again, to rise again... For as long as time shall last. Ours is the Sisyphean task of doing what needs to be doing moment-by-moment in each situation as it arises, to do it again in the next situation all our life long. And what redeems this pattern of being stuck between Yin and Yang all our life long is the attitude we take in regard to the task, the spirit with which we go about our business of living out our life in a Yin/Yang world.