Archive for the ‘Spirit’ Category

Quote of the Afternoon

23 April 2013

By ethical argument
And moral principle
The greatest crimes are eventually shown
To have been necessary, and, in fact
A signal benefit
To mankind.

— Zhuangzi [Chuang Tzu], translated by Thomas Merton

(I hope it’s clear even out of context that Zhuangzi was disdaining ethical arguments and moral principles, and not defending great crimes.)

Thought

20 August 2011

The trails start out so widely separated at the base that those who have never been more than thirty feet above sea level suppose that it matters vitally which trail you start out on, and that the trails stay just as far apart all the way up to the top of the mountain.

The Mystical Way in the Fourth Gospel

17 November 2007

John is the gospel I know the least well, and part of that is that I’m repelled somehow by all the emphasis on miracles — not that the other three gospels avoid miracles completely, but the miracles are few enough and there is enough other stuff in between them that I can ignore them and concentrate on the parables and other teachings.

But a few days ago I came across a book on John, The Mystical Way in the Fourth Gospel, and it was written by William Countryman, who wrote a very good book on the morality of the Old and New Testaments with the great title of Dirt, Greed, and Sex. That book for me was one of those on-first-looking-into-Chapman’s-Homer experiences, revealing to me all sorts of connections and contexts for various parts of the Bible that I had not seen or noticed before. So I picked up the book on John on a whim — it was only four bucks in a used book store — and I’ve started it.

Probably half my books come from used book stores, and it’s kind of amazing and a little frightening to me to think back and realize the extent to which my thinking has been shaped over the decades by books that just randomly happened to be on the shelf and catch my eye in this or that used book store. Some of the books that have most seriously influenced me, I picked up on a whim because they were on the 99-cent table and looked kind of interesting. It’s a bit humbling and disturbing to wonder how different a person I might be if somebody I never knew had not decided to get rid of that old book when he or she did, or if somebody else had seen the book and decided to buy it the day before I walked into the bookstore.

Anyway, like I said, I’ve started reading the book on John, and even though I’m not very far into it, I’m surprised to already be seeing something about John that I have never noticed before, even though it seems to be right there on the surface and which shows how uncarefully I have read it before. Because while it’s true that John’s gospel is irritatingly thick with miracles, Jesus also accompanies them with a recurring commentary on how shallow a person’s faith is if miracles are the reason for it. For some reason I’ve always been so turned off by the miracles in John that I never let myself notice that the attitude Jesus is said to take toward them is one I can certainly get behind.

On the other hand, Jesus’s first miracle in John, the wedding at Cana, is always going to have special associations for me because of the breathtaking way that Robertson Davies developed it as a metaphor in What’s Bred in the Bone, which may be my favorite novel ever. So I can give John that one.

Interview With John Shelby Spong

17 September 2007

While reading some blogs about Bishop Spong’s open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury (or “ABC” in Episcopalese) Rowan Williams, I came across a terrific interview with Spong at the blog Faith and Theology. The interviewer is not all that sympathetic to Spong.

Some of my favorite bits:

On what he thinks of Pope Benedict’s most recent book: “I don’t think he and I live in the same century.”

On the recent prominence of outspoken atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens:

As I see it, there are three responses to our contemporary crisis of faith. The first is the reaction of those extreme fundamentalists who close their minds and remain so fearful that they will ban or try to silence anybody that disagrees with them. The second is the emergence of what I call the “Church Alumni Association,” which is by far the fastest growing Christian movement – certainly much faster than right-wing fundamentalism in America, and I would bet in Australia too. These are people that can’t see an alternative to fundamentalism, and so they say that they just don’t want to be part of that whole ‘religious thing’. And the third response is this new wave of militant atheists who see religion as a positive evil. Now this is an enormous ferment, and I think it’s really an alive and fruitful and exciting time to be someone who is publicly addressing God and Christ and theological issues.

And:

I see all these battles that we’re now caught up in, both inside and outside the church, as very exciting, even invigorating.

On the controversy about Gene Robinson:

I know that Gene Robinson is not the only gay bishop in the Episcopal Church right now. I won’t name the others, but I will say that among these gay bishops are some of the most homophobic voices that are raised within that church. I sit back and look at these people with bewilderment. I could name the gay bishops in the Anglican communion in England without any trouble. I know them! So it’s not that we have this new thing called a gay bishop. The only thing that’s new here is that we have an honest gay bishop. …

Like I said, I grew up in the South, and I know that when there’s a moral principle involved — like slavery — you don’t compromise on that. Slavery is either right or it’s wrong. And you don’t keep unity in the church by keeping the slave owners happy. … In my opinion, the issue of homosexuality is just as strong and just as morally serious.

On Archbishop Williams:

In my opinion, he collapsed the day after he was appointed. He wrote a letter to all the Primates saying that as the Archbishop of Canterbury he would not act on his personal convictions but only on the Lambeth resolutions, which in effect gave away his leadership ability. The previous Archbishop, who was extremely homophobic, would never have done such a thing. He would never have said that he’s not going to act on his principles, because he believed that his principles were directly from God and it was therefore up to him to impose them on others. Liberals are always weak. Liberals can see two sides of an issue, and therefore are reluctant ever to impose a position on anybody. But if Rowan would just say: “This is my personal witness. I will try to preside over this institution with all of its foibles, but I need the world to know that discrimination against gay and lesbian people is wrong, and I think the church is wrong to be compromised on this issue ….”

On the Christian myth:

Before Darwin we told the story of the Christian faith in terms of human beings that were created perfect in God’s image, but who disobeyed God and fell into sin, thus corrupting the whole created order. Human beings couldn’t save themselves. The law tried and the prophets tried, and finally God enters the world in God’s good time in the form of a saviour-rescuer. And that’s the story about Jesus, how he pays the price for sin on the cross, and so restores the fallen creature to what God intended them to be in the first place. That essentially is the theology of the incarnation and atonement that we’ve talked about for years.

But it doesn’t work, and it’s not true. We never were created perfect in God’s image. We were created as single-cell units of life and we evolved over four-and-a-half to five billion years into various stages until at least we achieved self-consciousness. We are survival-oriented people because we wouldn’t have made it through the evolutionary process if we hadn’t been survival-oriented. And so we are radically self-centred, survival-orientated creatures, and we had to be to win the battle of evolution. But once we’ve won the battle, then there’s no more enemy except ourselves and so we turn our survival-instincts against one another — in genocide, for example. What got us to this position of dominance in the world is not sufficient to get us to whatever the next stage is. What Darwin suggests is that none of us need to be rescued from a fall that never happened, or restored to a status that we never possessed. That whole way of telling the Christian story simply doesn’t work.

So instead of seeing Jesus as the divine saviour-rescuer who pays the price of sin, I think we’ve got to turn our whole Christology toward seeing Jesus as the kind of humanity that enables us to get over being the kind of survival-oriented creatures that we are and begin to give our lives away. I think that is dramatically powerful, and something to which people would be willing to give themselves if they understood it.

I have to say, though, that I don’t think single-cell units of life are necessarily any less “created in God’s image” than we humans are — if there’s any truth in that concept at all (and I think there is), the one thing it really cannot mean is that we look physically like God.

The Wrong Side of History, the Wrong Side of Morality, and the Wrong Side of Truth

11 September 2007

My friend Terry sent me the text of an open letter that John Shelby Spong wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury a few days ago. As usual, Bishop Spong just totally rocks.

This may be my favorite passage, though there are many to choose from:

You continue to act as if quoting the Bible to undergird a dying prejudice is a legitimate tactic. It is in fact the last resort that religious people always use to validate “tradition” over change. The Bible was quoted to support the Divine Right of Kings in 1215, to oppose Galileo in the 17th century, to oppose Darwin in the 19th century, to support slavery and apartheid in the 19th and 20th centuries, to keep women from being educated, voting and being ordained in the 20th and 21st century. Today it is quoted to continue the oppression and rejection of homosexual people. The Bible has lost each of those battles. It will lose the present battle and you, my friend, will end up on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality and the wrong side of truth.

I have to quibble about “The Bible has lost each of those battles,” because it isn’t the Bible that has lost those battles but rather those who have made absurd claims about what the Bible contains, claims that could have been disproven at any time just by reading the darned thing in large passages rather than picking at it a sentence or two at a time taken out of context, which is the usual practice.

But here’s the whole letter.

Dear Rowan,

I am delighted that you have agreed to meet with the House of Bishops of the American Episcopal Church in September, even if you appear to be unwilling to come alone. It has seemed strange that you, who have had so much to say about the American Church, have not been willing to do so before now. Your office is still honored by Episcopalians in this country, so our bishops will welcome you warmly and politely. We have some amazingly competent men and women in that body, many of whom have not yet met you.

There is clearly an estrangement between that body and you in your role as the Archbishop of Canterbury. I want to share with you my understanding of the sources of that estrangement. First, I believe that most of our senior bishops, including me, were elated, at your appointment by Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Most Americans are not aware that yours is an appointed, not an elected position. Those of us who knew you were keenly aware of your intellectual gifts, your openness on all of the great social debates of our generation and indeed of your personal warmth. We also believed that the Lambeth Conference of 1998, presided over by your predecessor, George Carey, had been a disaster that would haunt the Communion for at least a quarter of a century. An assembly of bishops hissing at and treating fellow bishops with whom they disagreed quite rudely, was anything but an example of Christian community. The unwillingness of that hostile majority to listen to the voices of invited gay Christians, their use of the Bible in debate as a weapon to justify prejudice, the almost totalitarian attempt made to manage the press and to prevent access to the wider audience and the dishonest denial of the obvious and blatant homophobia among the bishops made that Lambeth Conference the most disillusioning ecclesiastical gathering I have ever attended. The Church desperately needed new leadership and so many of us greeted your appointment with hope. Your detractors in the evangelical camp both in England and in the third world actively lobbied against your appointment. The hopes of those of us who welcomed your appointment were, however, short lived because in one decision after another you seemed incapable of functioning as the leader the Church wanted and needed.

It began at the moment of your appointment when you wrote a public letter to the other primates assuring them that you would not continue in your enlightened and open engagement with the moral issue of defining and welcoming those Christians who are gay and lesbian.

We all knew where you stood. Your ministry had not been secret. We knew you had been one of the voices that sought to temper the homophobia of your predecessor’s rhetoric. We knew of your personal friendship with gay clergy and that you had even knowingly ordained a gay man to the priesthood. You, however, seemed to leap immediately to the conclusion that unity was more important than truth. Perhaps you did not realize that your appointment as the archbishop was because you had different values from those of your predecessor and that your values were exactly what the Church wanted and needed in its new archbishop.

In that letter, in a way that was to me a breathtaking display of ineptitude and moral weakness, you effectively abdicated your leadership role. The message you communicated was that in the service of unity you would surrender to whoever had the loudest public voice.

A leader gets only one chance to make a good first impression and you totally failed that chance. Unity is surely a virtue, but it must be weighed against truth, the Church’s primary virtue.

Next came the bizarre episode of the appointment of the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey John, a known gay priest, to be the area bishop for Reading in the Diocese of Oxford. He was proposed by the Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries. The nomination was approved by all of the necessary authorities, including you, the Prime Minister and the Queen. The fundamentalists and the evangelicals were predictably severe and anything but charitable or Christian. They and their allies in the press assassinated Jeffrey John’s character and made his life miserable. Once again you collapsed in the face of this pressure and, in a four-hour conversation, you forced your friend and mine, Jeffery John, who is not only a brilliant New Testament scholar, but also one who gave you his word that he was living a celibate life, to resign his appointment to that Episcopal office. The message went out for all to hear that if people are angry enough, the Archbishop will always back down. Your leadership, as well as our trust in your integrity, all but disappeared.

Shortly thereafter, you concurred in a “guilt” appointment by naming Jeffrey Dean of St. Alban’s Cathedral. It is a strange church and a strange hierarchy that proclaims that a gay man cannot be a bishop but can be a dean. Your credibility suffered once again.

When Gene Robinson in the United States was elected the Bishop of New Hampshire and, more particularly, when his election was confirmed by a concurrent majority of the bishops, priests and lay deputies at the General Convention (read General Synod), you appeared to panic. You called an urgent meeting of the primates of the entire Anglican Communion and allowed them to express enormous hostility. No one seemed to challenge either their use of scripture, which revealed an amazing ignorance of the last 250 years of biblical scholarship, or their understanding of homosexuality. By acting as if homosexuality is a choice made by evil people they violated everything that medical science has discovered about sexual orientation in the last century.

Just as the Church was historically wrong in its treatment of women, so now as a result of your leadership, we are espousing a position about homosexuality that is dated, uninformed, inhumane and frankly embarrassing. No learned person stands there today.

Then you appointed the group, under Robin Eames’ chairmanship, that produced the Windsor Report. That report confirmed every mistake you had already made. It asked the American Church to apologize to other parts of the Anglican Communion for its “insensitivity.” Can one apologize for trying to end prejudice and oppression? If the issue were slavery, would you ask for an apology to the slave holders? That report got the response it deserved. Our leaders were indeed sorry that others felt hurt, but they were not prepared to apologize for taking a giant step in removing one more killing prejudice from both the Church and the world. Those angry elements of the church were not satisfied by the Windsor report, inept as it was. They never will be until they have bent you and this communion into a pre-modern, hate filled, Bible quoting group of people incapable of embracing the world in which we live.

Next came threats issued by the primates of the excommunication of the American Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion, as if they actually had that power. Ultimatums and deadlines for us to conform to their homophobia were treated by you as if that were appropriate behavior. When the American Church elected Katharine Jefferts-Schori to be its Presiding Bishop and thus the Primate of our Province, your response to that major achievement was pathetic. You did not rejoice that equality had finally been achieved in our struggle against sexism; your concern was about how much more difficult her election would make the life of the Anglican Communion. Once again, institutional peace was made primary to the rising consciousness that challenges what the Church has done to women for so long. When Katharine took her place among the other primates, she underwent with dignity, the refusal of some of those bishops to receive communion with her. Is that the mentality required to build unity?

Later you issued a statement saying that if homosexuals want to be received in the life of the Church, they will have to change their behavior. I found that statement incredible. If you mean they have to change from being homosexual then you are obviously not informed about homosexuality. It is not a choice or a sin, anymore than being left handed, or male or female, or black or even transgender is a choice or a sin. All of us simply awaken to these aspects of our identity. That truth is so elementary and so well documented that only prejudiced eyes can fail to recognize it. No one in intellectual circles today still gives that point of view credibility.

Next you declined to invite Gene Robinson to the Lambeth Conference of 2008. All of the closeted homosexual bishops are invited, the honest one is not invited. I can name the gay bishops who have, during my active career, served in both the Episcopal Church and in the Church of England. I bet you can too. Are you suggesting that dishonesty is a virtue?

You continue to act as if quoting the Bible to undergird a dying prejudice is a legitimate tactic. It is in fact the last resort that religious people always use to validate “tradition” over change. The Bible was quoted to support the Divine Right of Kings in 1215, to oppose Galileo in the 17th century, to oppose Darwin in the 19th century, to support slavery and apartheid in the 19th and 20th centuries, to keep women from being educated, voting and being ordained in the 20th and 21st century. Today it is quoted to continue the oppression and rejection of homosexual people. The Bible has lost each of those battles. It will lose the present battle and you, my friend, will end up on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality and the wrong side of truth. It is a genuine tragedy that you, the most intellectually gifted Archbishop of Canterbury in almost a century, have become so miserable a failure in so short a period of time.

You were appointed to lead, Rowan, not to capitulate to the hysterical anger of those who are locked in the past. For the sake of God and this Church, the time has come for you to do so. I hope you still have that capability.

John Shelby Spong, 8th Bishop of Newark, Retired

Some of the comments I’ve seen about this letter amaze me. For example:

Spong’s letter to [Archbishop] Rowan is most disrespectful. But consider the source: this is from a low-church bishop who seldom if ever wears the proper vestments to celebrate Mass. Such people have limited credibility until they improve their churchmanship.

I’ve seen many an argumentum ad hominem but an argumentum ad vestitum is a rarer creature.

But Then I Would Say That, Me With My Sun in Virgo and All

23 May 2007

Jon Carroll writes in his column today about his overall experience of the 1960s, and it includes this paragraph:

I did try to get with the program, but there were obstacles. The biggest one was astrology. Why did that have to be part of it? I understood tipis and yurts; I got why getting loaded was fun; I loved the utopian ideals even though I was skeptical of their practical applications. But what did that have to do with your sun being in Jupiter?

This paragraph led to a few comments on the WELL, as any mention of astrology is fairly certain to do, mostly from people chiming in that they didn’t get it either.

When something sweeps the popular culture, even if it’s something that looks dumb, it’s generally an indication that there’s some human need or desire that isn’t being otherwise satisfied in the culture so that lots of people are seizing on this something instead, even though it may turn out not to be such a healthy or long-lasting way to satisfy the need.

The key to getting astrology for me was when I started noticing how people actually used it. Nine times out of ten, when I heard someone refer to astrological signs it wasn’t in regard to what their horoscope had said that day, it was in regard to the personality types that were supposed to be associated with the signs — “He is such a Capricorn” and “I’m an Aries and I just can’t get along with Geminis” and “Libra, right?”

Astrology gave laypeople a fairly simple language with which to talk about and explore personality traits, plus it had all the trappings of fortune-telling and antiquity and fun silly stuff like that. I was two years old at the end of the 1950s so I don’t know it firsthand, but I get the impression that in the 1950s there wasn’t a lot of interior exploration going on in the popular culture, not a lot of thinking about different personality traits, not a lot of attention paid to people’s emotional lives. I get the feeling that people were hungry to look at their own mental and emotional processes and hungry to talk about them and compare notes — psychology and psychoanalysis had broken into popular awareness in the 1940s, but it was specialized and expensive and you had to master a lot of difficult concepts that none of your friends would understand anyway, and until popularized accounts of the ideas of Jung started appearing (which didn’t happen until a little bit later than the time when astrology was catching fire, if my memory is right), mastering psychological ideas tended to be a dry and colorless and bookish and not-much-fun endeavor.

Astrology in its popular form may be a cheap and shallow way of fulfilling the desire to examine our inner workings and those of each other, but the desire itself seems to me to be universal and legitimate. And the healthy food that would nourish ourselves more lastingly never does seem to sell as well as cheeseburgers and fries.

So Sorry, But There Just Aren’t Enough Loaves and Fishes to Go Around

22 May 2007

According to the New York Times,

The first openly gay Episcopal bishop will not be invited to a once-a-decade meeting of world Anglican leaders next year, as the fellowship tries to avert a schism over homosexuality. A breakaway conservative U.S. bishop also was snubbed.

New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who lives with his male partner, called the decision Tuesday ”an affront to the entire Episcopal Church.” The other prelate, Bishop Martyn Minns, leads a U.S. parish network formed by Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola to counter the liberal-leaning American denomination on its home turf.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, said he took the rare step of withholding the two invitations so that the meeting, called the Lambeth Conference, can focus on keeping Anglicans together.

After all, it would be most un-Christian for any of them to eat at the same table with anyone who doesn’t adhere to the same set of rules, right?

I Think We Can Make That Seven

15 May 2007

Interview on salon.com today with the author of yet another anti-religion tract called Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Lewis Wolpert.

Mr. Wolpert’s thesis is that our mind’s propensity for seeing things in terms of cause and effect is the root of religion.

And once you had that concept [of cause and effect], you wanted to understand the causes of other things that mattered in your life, like illness. That’s the origin of religion. The most obvious causes were those things caused by humans, so people imagined there was some sort of god with human characteristics.

Let me make sure that I’ve got this straight. Because of the way we are, our minds tend to look for simple cause-and-effect relationships that seem to explain certain phenomena in easily understandable ways, even though there’s no real scientific evidence that the cause did in fact lead to the effect.

And so Mr. Wolpert’s mind has perceived that there is a simple cause-and-effect relationship between this characteristic of the human mind and the phenomenon of religion. This seems to him to explain, in an easily understandable way, why religions exist.

Got it.

I am in complete agreement, as it happens, with Mr. Wolpert’s observation about the human mind’s tendency to impose causal order on what it perceives, and that this tendency is a fundamental source of delusion. I’m surprised, though, that he seems to think that this is a new insight and a controversial one. In fact, it’s a fundamental teaching of at least three major religions that I know of: Buddhism, Daoism, and Zen.

More from the interview:

Isn’t there more to religion than belief in supernatural beings?

Certainly not. … When I talk about religion, I’m talking about belief in the supernatural. In Western society, we’re talking about God. I don’t believe you can be religious without having some concept of a god.

Hmm. I would have said that you can’t be truly religious without realizing that any concept of a god that your mind can hold cannot be right. Mr. Wolpert apparently thinks that all real religious belief is by definition superstitious, whereas it seems to me that the superstitious element in religious belief is precisely that part that is not truly religious. Obviously this isn’t an attitude shared by all people who regard themselves as religious, but I don’t see why we should let fundamentalists be the ones to define for us what is and isn’t religion, any more than we should let astrologers dictate for us what is and isn’t science.

Of course, Mr. Wolpert does not have any actual scientific evidence that this mental proclivity of ours is the cause of religious belief. He has no evidence that the cause-and-effect might not go the other way around, so that it was religious belief that led to this mental quirk, or that both of these might be separate effects of some other cause, or that they might be effects of two separate and unrelated causes that have developed together and influenced each other over many thousands of years. No, Mr. Wolpert just perceives the possibility of a connection, and therefore the connection must exist. And if he has to ignore the conspicuous existence of kinds of religious experience that don’t fit his model, no prob.

It seems to me that a lot of people who regard themselves as completely rational have no problem using the theory of evolution in the same way that fundamentalists use the Bible. If I’m a fundamentalist and I perceive a connection between a Bible verse and something in the world around me, lo! I have evidence that the Bible predicted it or is commenting on it. If a verse in Leviticus says in the original Hebrew that it’s unclean for a man to “lie the lying of a woman”, for example, and the use of the verb “lie” reminds me of lying in bed and therefore of sex, and this in turn reminds me that I think it’s unclean and then some for two men to have sex together, then bingo, I have convinced myself that that’s what the Bible must be referring to here and I don’t have to think any more about it. It’s not complex at all, and there’s nothing about it I have to admit that I don’t understand.

And if I am a “rationalist” and I think I perceive a way that some trait or other may have had some indirect benefit that might possibly have increased some group of people’s ability to survive, then bingo, I can write a book about how spiritual belief is merely the result of evolution, and I don’t have to think any more about it. It’s not complex at all, and there’s nothing about it I have to admit that I don’t understand. I have reduced it to a simple equation, and that makes me smarter than all those people who think there’s anything more to it than that.

Mr. Wolpert seems to have a bug up his ass about acupuncture, too.

You have written about alternative medicine and are highly skeptical of various healing practices, including energy healing and even acupuncture, which is now used quite widely in the West.

Yes, I know it’s used. It’s quite tricky because the placebo effect can really confuse these results very significantly. So if you believe the treatment is going to work, you’ve got a much higher chance that it’s going to work. But there’s just no evidence for the idea of energy fields, which acupuncturists use for deciding where to put the needles.

But there are thousands of years of experiential evidence going back to ancient China.

But nothing to do with energy. Energy is a well-defined concept. And I’m terribly sorry, no physiologist has ever detected any of these energy fields.

There’s no evidence to support the popular explanation for the phenomenon, and therefore the phenomenon itself must not exist. How’s that for scientific reasoning?

Here’s the thing: Religion is about seeing things as they are, right here and right now, not as our mind wants them to be, as our mind leads us to perceive them. The separation of the universe into individual things is a trick of the mind, a necessary illusion if we are to figure out how to manipulate the universe to get what we want, but still an illusion. Even that is only one of countless ways of expressing that insight. In various different words, that is what’s at the root of Buddha’s teachings, Jesus’s teachings, Laozi’s teachings. Also at the root of all science, which is why there’s no real conflict at all between genuine science and genuine religion, and even at the root of what Mr. Wolpert is saying, even though I think he has been taken in by the illusion created by his own mind and seems to see his own teachings as being in opposition to all those others, and I don’t think they are at all. Neither religion nor science, if they are genuine, is about believing impossible things; they are both about the difficult and unending struggle to see what you actually see, and not just the comfortable and reassuring patterns that your brain imposes on what you see.

Each of Us Can Know Beauty

27 April 2007

A passage from the Dao De Jing that I read tonight in the opening ritual of the May Day gathering:

Each of us can know beauty
Only because there is ugliness.
Each of us can know truth
Only because there is falsehood.

Life and death give birth to each other.
Difficult and easy complete each other.
Long and short give shape to each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Sound and silence sing with each other.
Past and future follow each other.


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