I’m an atheist, but as evidenced by me hanging around here, I’m interested in religion and spirituality. I consider Christianity and early philosophical Daoism (Laozi, Zhuangzi) as having really influenced my thinking. In some ways they seem to provide similar teachings. “Consider the lilies” and “Blessed are the poor in spirit” are pretty Daoist sentiments.
But here’s where they really part ways: Christianity is messianic. Daoism is. . .well, what’s the opposite of messianic?
The Jesus message, one way or another, is about saving the world. I’m often tempted by messianic impulses. I suspect most of us are. Whether right or left, one thing most of us probably agree on is that the world is imploding around us. Gotta stop it: Puck Futin! Stop climate change! Own the libs! Protect choice! Protect unborn babies! I notice in myself the feeling that things are on the verge of catastrophe, and I gotta do something to stop it.
Daoism has no pretensions of saving the world:
Do you think you can take over the universe and improve it?
I do not believe it can be done.
The universe is sacred.
You cannot improve it.
If you try to change it, you will ruin it.
If you try to hold it, you will lose it.
(Laozi, 29, transl. Gia-Fu Feng)
In a sense, the Jesus message is the Yang and the Laozi message is the Yin. But there’s plenty of Yin in Christianity, too. If you believe Christ has already redeemed the world, and that God’s plan is guaranteed to succeed, what’s all the activism for? Why get bent out of shape that the woke mob is turning boys into girls? It’s all part of God’s plan.
So. . . .
Where do you find yourself these days on the spectrum of Yang–save the world to Yin–let the world be? Do we need some of both? What happens when our attempts to save the world put us at each other’s throats? What scriptural or philosophical writings help you put these dilemmas in perspective?