Forward to the Second Edition
The first edition of Two Sides of a Coin was intended to link Lao Tze’s world-loved Tao Te Ching with its great-grandparent, the Chinese Book of Change. This more familiar work depends on and is explained by the underlying, universal science embedded in the much earlier I Ching.
In the process of writing, however, I was struck with the similarities between the Tao Te Ching and the roughly contemporary Yoga Sutras attributed to Patanjali. Both scriptures emphasize the same virtues: non-violence and contentment, balance and moderation, compassion and impartiality, humility and service.
It was as if the teachings coming out of China and India at roughly the same time were different expressions of the same worldview. This similarity became central to the 2004 Introduction.
Ten years later, in 2014, it seems that the same worldview is coming forward once again. But having just finished Rethinking Survival: Getting to the Positive Paradigm of Change, I was struck with the similarities between Lao Tze and Einstein. So now, instead of pointing the laser beam of the timeless Positive Paradigm back in time, this go-round it’s pointed towards the future.
Lao Tze’s vision is compatible with the Positive Paradigm of Change. In fact, placing the language of his passages into the levels of the Wheel serves to clarify his vision.
The model is therefore shown here, along with its application to the subtitle: Common Sense. The right-brain image which compliments to the left-brain words of Passage One is also supplied below as a hint of what’s possible.
Einstein’s warning, the basis of Rethinking Survival, could well have been spoken by a Chinese sage:
Our task must be to free ourselves from the prison [of separatist thinking] by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. . . We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.
Prominent themes which link Einstein with the Chinese yoga tradition include not only Compassion but also Unity and Survival. In addition, anticipating the Positive Paradigm, Lao Tze repeated alludes to a timeless center at life’s hub encompassed by the surface rim of fluctuating events.
Significantly, in Passage 52, is the observation that “Anticipating change with knowledge of natural law is called survival.”
Allusions to Compassion and Common Sense are found in Passage 67:
Passage 28 explains how sages restore Unity to the world. It makes best sense in the context of the wheels-within-wheels structure of the Positive Paradigm model:
Adhering to the unified center (with its hint of both human inheritance and reincarnation) is the subject of Passage 54:
The attribute of leadership as a steady presence at the center is found in Passage 60:
This observation, with its implication for personal as well as institutional organization, is reinforced in Passage 29:
The 2014 edition of Two Sides is dedicated to the Millennial Generation. Though it may seem as if they’ve been economically disenfranchised by their elders, material misfortune on the surface of the Positive Paradigm Wheel contains within it the hidden seeds of humanity’s long-term survival.
Ours isn’t the first time in the repeating cycles of history that leaders have squandered national resources. But in the context of Lao Tze’s larger reality, material resources aren’t that significant when compared to the intelligence, inner strength and inexhaustible vitality available to those who choose to access the less tangible but very real levels of inner experience.
Millennials are the ones for whom the results of the current conflict paradigm are so catastrophically dysfunctional that they have no vested interests to protect. They’re the ones prepared to move forward once again into the past, recovering the timeless treasure of the Positive Paradigm buried deep within in the Tao Te Ching‘s wisdom.
They’ve been given the greater opportunity to dig deep, rediscover their inalienable heritage of inner resources and become the truly radical agents of genuine, positive change.
Lao Tze’s wisdom combined with the recovered treasure of the ancient I Ching and its Positive Paradigm of Change essence now gives them the means to see through Saul Alinsky’s pseudo-radical pose, answer his twisted rhetoric, and choose the truly radical approach to change.
Revolution vs Return to the Timeless Basics
Thanks to the internet, Millennial seekers (and their well-wishers) can compare opposite approaches to change and choose the one which best matches their hopes for generations to come.
Frédéric Bastiat’s The Law, a highly influential post-French Revolution treatise, is strikingly in harmony with Lao Tze’s worldview.
The same dynamics he described in 1850 are now playing out worldwide, nearly 165 years later. As the future to recedes yet further into the past, Lao Tze described them thousands of years earlier as well.
According to Bastiat, mankind’s three gifts from God are the physical, intellectual, and moral aspects of LIFE. These gifts fit within the surface, middle and inner levels of the Positive Paradigm Wheel
In turn, these three levels reflect the Unified Theory approach to change from the inside out, with the variables of energy, mass and light each placed within the appropriate level of the Wheel.
According to Bastiat, the individual has the right and responsibility to honor, maximize and protect these basics. In sum, they precede all legislation, despite “the cunning of artful political leaders.”
It’s as if he’d foreseen the attitudes and methods of community organizer coach, Saul Alinsky. Current events now confirm what Bastiat described. Like earlier socialists, in Rules for Radicals, Alinsky blends half-truths with double-talk and assumptions to draw false conclusions. Number One on the internet most-quoted list reads:
Any revolutionary change must be preceded by a passive, affirmative, non-challenging-attitude toward change among the mass of our people. They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and chance the future.
Alinsky could have been describing the despair of nations crushed under the tyranny of Roman rule in the centuries before Christ.
But at that time, the change which the down-trodden were willing to risk their lives for was an inner transformation — a return to the timeless basics which leaders of the Jewish community and Romans alike had forgotten.
Then as now, true fundamentalists and radicals (both words basically mean the same thing) are not groups who meddle with events on the material surface of life’s wheel, but single individuals with the courage and vision to change themselves from the inside out.
They, like the children of Noah, will be the ultimate survivors. For, then as now, heeding Einstein’s warning, human survival can no longer be taken for granted.
Next on the internet’s Alinsky “most-quoted” list:
A reformation means that the masses of our people have reached a point of disillusionment with past ways and values. They don’t know what will work but they do know that the prevailing system is self-defeating, frustrating, and hopeless. They won’t act for change but won’t strongly oppose those who do. The time is then ripe for revolution
Alinsky’s analysis is partially correct, but his solutions have proven to make matters even worse. As Bastiat predicted, socialist methods are a ruse for transferring wealth and political power from one set of greedy abusers to another.
In fact, in an Alinsky world of pseudo-radicals, it seems that organizers engineer disillusionment and despair exactly for the purpose of exploiting them. However, as Rethinking Survival observes, true radicals have a better option:
Christ was rightly regarded as “radical” in his day. He would be today as well (in the original meaning) were he to walk among us now. Compatible with the Positive Paradigm worldview, “radical” originally meant “going to the foundation or source of something; fundamental.”
Currents events are giving Millennials (along with their parents and grandparents) the opportunity to dig deep, recover their inalienable inner resources and become the agents of genuine, positive change.
As Lao Tze already knew:
The personal journey described in Rethinking Survival describes my repeatedly looking in the wrong places for answers. Sadly, contrary to what I’d been led to believe, universal wisdom was neither taught nor practiced at the “university.”
Nor did the attempt to escape problems at home by traveling abroad work out. What I discovered was that youth everywhere face the same basic challenges. As Lao Tze knew much earlier:
The dynamics of change first observed in the Book of Change and later described as they affect human relationships in the Tao Te Ching are still in effect today. The only difference, perhaps, is that the current times are more extreme than ever.
Reading Two Sides of a Coin as commentary on today’s news, the similarities are abundant. The same subjects include: survival, freedom and common sense, the squandering of public resources, unpopular and draining wars as well as the loss of trust in public leaders.
In addition, Lao Tze addresses the dangers of out-of-control-government and the polarizing of classes into the extremely wealthy “haves” and extremely poor “have-nots.”
In Rethinking Survival I wrote that the current generation has made the fatal mistake of rejecting the world’s timeless wisdom traditions because of its abuses. Similarly, in China, leaders whose vision is focused exclusively on the surface have gone so far as to actually ban the I Ching. To them I respond with what was earlier directed to those disillusioned of the Christian faith:
Have authority-cloaked religionists, for thousands of years, abused the teachings to excuse abuse of power, claiming divine rights for human rulers — be it European kings, Chinese emperors, Russian tzars, Arabian caliphs, or whomever? Certainly.
Have their enemies repeatedly wrested temporal power away from its holders, only to abuse it in even worse ways themselves? Definitely.
Have humans suffered unspeakable cruelties and injustices at the hands of fellow humans from time immemorial? Sadly so. Continuous upheavals on the surface of the wheel are part of life. It’s nothing new.
But the existence of the unchanging silent center continues into infinity, regardless of what’s happening at the surface. Whether you honor it with awe in simple silence or choose a particular name for it, it remains the same.
Sages patiently accept scoffers. Their rejection is foreseen. It’s part of the pattern, but changes nothing of value:
Sages patiently bide their time, knowing that the universal, “perennial philosophy” which truth-seekers of all times and every place share in common will prevail:
So it is that, like the proverbial snake that swallows its tail, the past and future meet in the NOW:
Two Sides of a Coin is the middle book of a change trilogy. In combination, may they help serve to keep Einstein’s circle of compassion intact.
Patricia E. West. Wisconsin, U.S.A. January 2014