November 18th, 2006


Tao, Te, and T'OH!


As part of the secret side-project that's going to make me a bazillion dollars, I've spent the past year or two burying myself under several tons of literature from, and about, East Asia. Currently it's one of the few that brings America into the subject*: Eyewitness to History: the First Americans in Postwar Asia, ed. Otis Cary. As you might expect -- you probably do it, too -- I rely heavily** on the Tao*** in "planning" most of my research; I only found this book because I happened to read Cary's obituary this year, and was fascinated by a young (in 1945) man who had such success getting WWII Japanese POW's to talk, simply by treating them like human beings. Emblematic example: on first meeting a batch of new prisoners he would have them assemble in lines by rank, then go through getting their names (in his flawless Japanese; he'd been partly raised there), one by one, lowest to highest rank...then, when he reached those of highest rank present, Cary would grin and note that apparently they didn't have too many Admirals or Generals among their number in detention. This pretty much always got a laugh -- and began the crucial process of binding interrogator to subject, playing on the universal, ahem, "regard" that line troops have for the brass. It wasn't all trickery, though: his genuine respect for these men had a lot to do with it.

Which edges us near our point, here: Cary succeeded with many of those men because he understood them: knew something of their Tao, their inner nature, hence was better able to draw them in a preferred direction. The main reason I post anything here, btw -- most especially political things -- is in an attempt to share precisely such initiatory points. The world needs a lot more smart, sympathetic people who understand how life works, and how to make it less toxic.

The Cary book turned out to be three hundred some pages of correspondence among several young American intel officers, describing what they saw in Asia (particularly Japan, China, Korea) in the immediate aftermath of the war. Besides being both utterly fascinating, and hugely useful to my research, it also fed other interests. For example, it is plain to me now that the postwar "planning" for Iraq was largely based on what worked in MacArthur's occupation of Japan...which would have been fine, had Iraq been (deep breath) (a) defeated after some eight years of wild military expansion throughout its region, (b) defeated by a nation whom it had itself attacked first (rather than one which attacked it first, both in 1991 (killing several hundred thousand Iraqis, per estimates of the time, which might possibly make for some lingering hostility, hmm?) and in 2003), (c) whilst its people, exhausted by years of warfare (rather than embittered by a decade of sanctions, then exposed to only a few days of "shock and awe") had come to hate militarism, and just wish peace would return.

(Oh, yes, and (d) had Iraq been filled with Japanese, but let that go.)

So there's the Tao, again: the Iraq Group "planners" did not understand the Tao of Iraq itself, or of our relations with the Iraqis, or of internal religious and political conflict there, or of the balance of power in the Middle East itself. Hence the current predicament.

It is, alas, very difficult to tell self-impressed, egomaniacal, goal-oriented people that making a list of self-impressed, egomaniacal goals and then trying to impose them by main force is frequently a really stupid idea. It is difficult to get unattained people to see that one cannot act effectively on reality, on any reality, absent trying to understand its Tao. It is nearly impossible to get small-w-willful people to understand the distinction between trying to impose their will and finding the True Will inherent in a given situation.

And finally, it is difficult to get some devoted Thelemites to understand that the New Aeon formula is initiatory, rather than self-sacrificial (or publicity-mad, which amounts to the same thing in the end: c.f. the crucifixion). Those wanting to follow out this idea might take a look at the Taoist texts footnoted below; also at libri CCXX and "LXV," the latter of which is little more than an expansion of this point.

Thus do I put in more measured words a post I've been sitting on since August, about the alleged indispensability of goals.**** Peace to All Beings. :D

93 93/93 -- AJ

* Another, also fascinating, was Masao Miyoshi's As We Saw Them: The First Japanese Embassy to the United States.
** Occasionally not heavily enough: be aware that this same book has been issued at least three times over the years, with three different titles, another being From a Ruined Empire. Then you won't buy it twice, like I did. T'OH!, indeed! ;)
*** Pron. "Dao," as you doubtless knew -- hence our silly title; its meaning is something like the Way, the Path, the substance or essence or inner nature of (a) all things, and (b) any specific thing. The "Te" is usually seen as the Tao's "power," or manifestation. For more info see the Lao-Tzu (a.k.a. Tao Te Ching -- "ching," as always, meaning "classic," hence "Classic of the Tao and its Manifestation") and Chuang-Tzu -- and, applying the same to matters of conflict (military and otherwise), the Sun-Tzu (Art of War ("tzu" meaning "master": Master Lao, Master Sun)). For that matter, Thelemites who haven't read AC's initiated paraphrase of the Tao Te Ching are really missing something. Ditto for his own "Thien Tao" (Way of Heaven or Way of Nature) in Konx Om Pax. Attainment is hidden in plain sight, but most people don't look. Speaking of which:
**** Almost nobody reads LJ-cut material, and even fewer read footnotes. Those of you who bother to do both (bless you!) can see the original post, after the cut. (Keep it to yourself, though -- people get fussy about this stuff! ;) ) Collapse )