This is a weblog about Taoism. I very rarely, if ever, review books of the non-Taoie tradition because I only have a finite amount of time and space, which I try to dedicate to the pursuit of things more Taoie . Once in a blue moon, however, there comes along a book that, in no way, shape or form looks like a book that talks about Taoism, yet I feel compelled to add to my reading list. In fact, nowhere in the text of said book does the author even mention the words ‘Tao’, ‘Taoism’, or even ‘chi’. The only thing it had going for it at the moment that it caught my eye, as I was traipsing through the bookstore on my way out, was a strange title, “Happier than God”, written by a man named Neale Donald Walsch.
The first thing I, as a curious TaoBabe did, was to peek at the back of the book to see what the author looked like. For my reward, I got a quick peek at what looked like Santa Claus on a summer retreat, and I had that all-too-familiar funny feeling that I had known him some time in the long, long past. Of course, this could simply be that he looked like Santa Claus, because I have never met the man in my life.
I scanned through the first few pages and thought to myself, “Heck, it’s only $17 dollars. I’ve paid more for much less useful stuff in my lifetime.” So off I went to purchase the book. That night, I was only going to scan it quickly to see if there was any useful information that would shed light on how I could be ‘happier than God’. After all, I am a fairly happy person and have been most of my life. I didn’t know what God’s usual frame of mind was, or even how ‘happy’ he normally felt. Heck, did God even have feelings?
Well, the quick scan lasted three hours, during which time, I had promptly gobbled it up. Let me hasten to add that I rarely ever use highlighter in my books, with the exception of my college text books, because most of the time, I am reading for fun. The only other books that I have liberally marked on and made a general mess of were the Bible, the Tao Te Ching, and the I Ching (which is literally falling apart so that I had to purchase two additional copies, one in pristine hardback, which I am hesitant to touch for fear it too will be despoiled by my fingers).
Here’s what I found. I understand copyright laws, but I need to quote certain passages in his book which is, to me, the heart and soul of the whole book, to illuminate my point. I normally italicize entire passages when I lift them out of their book, but because Master Walsch (and I consider him a Master, as he has to a great extent, done his part to teach the world something about Itself, and about Its relationship with the Universe) has italicized parts of his text to emphasize a point, I am going to leave it exactly as he has written it so you can get an idea of his tone of voice. I will, however color-code his texts in blue, so my thoughts can remain clearly identified as my own.
“God is not a Super Being in the Sky, with the same proclivities and emotional needs as human beings, including the need for love and for revenge. God is life’s Essential Energy. You might want to call the energy Pure Intelligence.”
Sound familiar? In the words of Lao Tzu, in his Tao Te Ching, Chapter 25:
“I do not know its name. Identifying it, I call it Tao. Forced to describe it, I call it great.”
Master Walsch goes on to further explain his thoughts on Pure Intelligence.
(This Pure)…Intelligence doesn’t care whether you believe in It or not. It doesn’t care whether you use It on purpose or not. If you do use It on purpose, It doesn’t care how. It makes no judgment about any of this. In fact, It makes no judgment about anything at all.
Here we go, same concept in Chapter 5 of the Tao Te Ching.
Heaven and Earth are impartial and regard myriad things as straw dogs. The sages are impartial and regard people as straw dogs.
Master Walsch continues his definition of Pure Intelligence:
Pure Intelligence wants nothing, needs nothing, seeks nothing. It simply Is. It exists in a way that allows Itself to be used. It does this, it allows this, it makes this possible, by placing Itself inside of Everything.
This is what has always been said about the Tao, and is an integral part of what the Tao is. It is diametrically opposite from the traditional world view of what God is, in the western culture’s viewpoint of Godhood.
Wherever you look you will find Pure Intelligence. It is at the basis of all things that exist. Snowflakes reflect Pure Intelligence. The tiniest atoms reflect Pure Intelligence. The biggest swath of the night sky reflects Pure Intelligence. The process of life Itself, examined at every level, reflects Pure Intelligence.
The energy that I am here calling Pure Intelligence can be used—is being used—at every level of life, by Life Itself. You are using this energy, you are focusing this energy, every second of every minute of every hour of every day…usually without knowing it.
This effectively sums up what my understanding of the Tao is. In classic Taoism, Tao is, in general, ‘The Way’, ‘The Path’, or ‘The Process’, depending on the context that the word is being used. When it is applied to living things, it is ‘The Way’ or ‘The Path’. When It is applied to inanimate objects such as a snowflake or a black hole, it is ‘The Process’.
Master Walsch goes on to reiterate that ‘Pure Intelligence’ as ‘God’. Note that if you replace the proper noun ‘God’ with the proper noun ‘Tao’, you get the exact same definition. He also correctly identifies It as ‘It’ and not ‘He’ (denoting a masculine presence) or ‘She’ (denoting a feminine presence). The Tao is, in equal parts, both yin and yang—light and dark, masculine and feminine, positive and negative.
This energy that I am calling Pure Intelligence, and that I am telling you is another name for God, has no opinion about anything. That is because It doesn’t need anything. It is singularly without need, for the simple reason that it is everything that exists in any form whatsoever. This includes not only physical things, but metaphysical things as well. This includes all spiritual things, and anything in any form that simply IS…including thoughts, emotions, feelings, ideas, and, yes, the black holes of space.
And in the words of Lao Tzu:
Everyone in the world calls my Tao great. As if it is beyond compare. It is only because of its greatness that it seems beyond compare. It if can be compared, it would already be insignificant long ago.
Think about this. If God is truly everything that exists in any form whatsoever, what in the world could God want or need or require? Why would God punish us for not giving God what we imagine that God wants or needs or requires?
And here is the anticipated shocker. He talks about what he calls ‘the Essential Energy’, or what Star Wars fans have known for decades as ‘The Force’, and of which we’ve all come to understand and love.
The opportunity that lies before us, and before all sentient beings, is to use the Essential Energy of Pure Intelligence (Chi!!!) in the way in which it was designed to be used. Not all things that exist in the universe can use this Essential Energy consciously. That is, with full self-awareness and with intention. Only those elements of Life Itself that are self-conscious—that is, aware of themselves—can do so.
Lao Tzu had written the same thing thousands of years ago, condensed into a single sentence.
Wield the Tao of the ancients to manage the existence of today.
And here is where Walsch makes a very interesting remark about where we are today, at the point of evolution, in relation to others before us, as well as others after us.
Human beings are not only aware of themselves, they are aware that they are aware, and so have risen to at least the Second Level of Consciousness…We can step back into the hallway of awareness, looking through doorways both forward and backward—and, according to some, ultimately seeing and experiencing our Divne and Sacred Self.
Which begs the question, what are the subsequent Levels of Consciousness, and more importantly, how do we reach the next level? It seems to me that if we were students of the Tao, we would be currently in second grade, although there would be others who could make the argument that we are actually Sophomores in Humanity University.
Somehow, I seriously doubt that we would be able to graduate at the Fourth Level, which is technically, the Senior level at a four-year institute; hence my not-so-subtle suggestion that we have barely left Kindergarten.
Sounds like a great book — one I’ll need to add to my reading list!
Sometimes we Taoists become too fixated on the word, Tao. I’ve read many things recently that describe the same “it”, albeit utilizing different terminology.
BTW, I’m glad to see this blog post from you. I’ve missed your blogging.
Thank you! I have missed the blogging process as well. Much has happened within the last few months, but it should not have disrupted my normal blogging life so much. However, I am happy to report that I am still in the continued mode of learning, living, and being happy.
Currently, I am doing research to dig through the slog of material that, 1.either poses as Taoism, but is really something different, and often with a hidden agenda or a slant that is undoubtedly non-Taoistic, or 2. cloaks itself under a variety of different disguises, but is really Taoism once the cover has been stripped off.
Quite a bit of it is often the tinkering and experimenting of mankind as we strive to understand ourselves. We keep reinventing the wheel, over and over again, and each time we do, we give it a different name in the hopes that we can copyright this precious thought that has somehow materialized in our brains. However, in the age of information, enough folks have finally managed to capture their ideas and broadcast it all over the world, so the individual findings are merging, coagulating, and fusing into shades of the same truth that we have been and are continuing to seek and find.
Sorry this is such a long response. Perhaps I should write it up as a blog and not a response. 🙂
Long responses are just as important as brief ones. 🙂
I’ll be interested to see what you write up about your two points. I agree that both are very prevalent AND timely.
arnt we told to see the world through the eyes of a child????????????
Come again? I do apologize. I don’t understand your question.
The Taoist sage operates instinctively, intuitively and spontaneously. Like a child, he is unaware of his innocence and his virtues. His compassion is as natural to him as breathing, and he is as unaware of it as he is of his own breathing.
He instinctively moves in close harmony with nature, like a baby snuggling up to its mother’s warm breasts.
His ignorance of his own virtues is his most endearing quality in a world satiated with pomposity
There is a difference between ‘child-like’ and ‘childish’. 🙂
I find your similariries and comparisons very interesting. The,Tao te ching was one of the very firs spiritual text tjat I have had the opportunity of reading. It will always be an essensual and very important text, that surpasses history and time. The same with all material written by Master Neale. Thank you for your input.
Gerhard, it is my pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.