I’ve been doing more reading recently. In particular, I’ve been pouring over the Tao Te Ching and some of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s spiritual essays.
I have, over the decades, referred to the Tao, but I had never before perused any Emerson. What is enlightening to me is that the writing styles couldn’t be more different. Emerson is wordy, heavy and pondering, employing a pedantic approach in lighting up the Truth as he sees it. The Tao style is minimalistic, with terse and concise aphorisms, metaphors, parables and paradoxes that evoke “aha” moments of sublime realization.
The Tao was written by Lao Tzu around 1000 BC, although both of those details are disputed among some scholars. Emerson, of course, a salient and prolific American writer, lived during the 19th century.
Phenomenally, both texts are essentially expressing the same ideas. “Accept humiliation as a surplus. Value great misfortune as your own self,” is a sample from the Tao. Emerson, in a thousand more words, reminds us that success is framed by past failures and to embrace setbacks as a foundation for future successes and awareness.
This all reminded me of Bob Dylan, “for the loser now will be later to win” and “there’s no success like failure and failure’s no success at all.”
– (“The Times They Are a-Changin’” and “Love Minus Zero / No Limit”)
If only leaders, religious and otherwise, and society at large, could comprehend the simple fact that beneath the infinite different appearances of things there is a unifying Truth.