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> Tapping In, The Tao - Campbell and Steinbeck
Robert the Bruce
post Jun 16, 2004, 01:44 PM
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Tapping-In:
This will be less of an academic evaluation of the central-book of Taoism (The Tao Te Ching) by Lao Tzu and more of a journey amongst the true adepts and open-minded people who often inhabit California and are always found at Esalen.
"While the Calvins handled most of the details of navigation, the intense dialogue between Campbell and Ricketts went on--and on. Most often their conversations ran to the philosophical ideas Ricketts was always working on: Breaking Though and nonteleological thinking. As Ricketts saw it: "Common sense" logic (teleological) asks the question "Why did this or that happen"--implying that one can discern a prior event as causal. In physics, the same fallacy was exposed by Schrödinger: If you were behind a knothole and a cat walked past, you might assume that the nose "caused" the tail. In reality both things are connected to larger realities: the cat itself, its destination, the matrix of its relations to a family, etc. ‘Non- teleological thinking concerns itself not primarily with what should be or could be or might be,’.. says Ricketts, ‘but rather with what actually 'is', attempting at most to answer the questions what or how, instead of why--a task in itself rigorously difficult.’ (5)
Rickett’s approach is a deliberate attempt at non-Aristotelian thinking. One can only understand a situation or a process in terms of its context. The whole of something is "greater than the sum of its parts." Campbell and Ricketts were in fact reading Einstein, Heisenberg, and other works on the New Physics during this journey.
Nonteleological thinking would guide the scientist to theorize about the world in certain ways--but perhaps the most important benefits would be to personal psychology. According to Ricketts' theory, we suffer because we leap to judgments about things. Much of our problem is a misguided "nostalgia" in which by a process of Pavlovian conditioning we associate the stimuli surrounding an event with our own emotional experience. Like Krishnamurti or G.I. Gurdjieff, Ricketts believed the ordinary man simply responded to life as if in a dream, rather than with fully responsible awareness. ‘A deeply unconscious person is like an anesthetized specimen’ was his biological simile.
Ricketts was reading the Japanese Zen masters, and the Tao Te Ching, a subject also of interest to Campbell. ‘The Tao that can be tao-ed is not the Tao,’ Ricketts would quote enigmatically.
'When you're caught by the tide, don't fight it, drift with it and see where it takes you.’ (6) Ricketts would sometimes demonstrate his Zen-like consciousness beside a tide pool by seeing literally dozens of creatures where others saw none or only a few. He demonstrated it at other times by his power of passive concentration. 'Ed's gift for receiving made him a great teacher,' wrote John Steinbeck, 'In conversation you found yourself telling him things--thoughts, conjectures, hypotheses-- and you found a pleased surprise at yourself for having arrived at something you were not aware that you could think or know. It gave you such a sense of participation with him that you could present him with this wonder Then Ed would say, 'Yes, that's so.’"(7 & 8)
This experience is something I love and cherish. I call it tapping in or 'tripping the light fantastic'. It is more than a shared ESP and involves empathy as well as a touch of the akashic in some cases. Going in the flow of the Tao is 'the Way' rather than the logical ego saying it knows. It can be learned and it should be taught. Through the teaching of such things the sharing that occurs leads to all participants being taught and no teacher being so evident.
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