Christ in Tao Language

While reading "This Book Needs No Title" by Raymond Smullyan, I was struck by the similarity between his interpretation of several sayings of a Zen master and my understanding of things in the Bible. This led to a cascade of matching between the sayings of Christ and the things translated by Smullyan. The initial connection was the passage by Chuangtse on page 103:

The knowledge of the ancients was perfect... Next they made distinction between [things], but did not pass judgements upon them. When judgement was passed, Tao was destroyed. With the destruction of Tao, individual preferences came into being.

The parallel that struck me was with the Genesis account of Adam and Eve eating from the tree of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil. In doing so, they "became like gods" in knowing and declaring what is good and what is evil, thus passing judgement. Before this time, all was good and was done in accordance with God; afterwards, much was evil and has been done out of accordance with God's plan.

This insight emboldened me to attempt a translation of the Gospel into the language of the Tao. I at best barely understand Zen or the Tao, so I am sure that these worlds will be painful to the ears of those who do. I can only hope that it will be less painful and more enlightening than the King James and other translations that did not attempt to place this in the concept of the Tao:

The Tao is oneness with the will of the Creator, whose essence moves in the creation. To achieve true enlightenment, one must follow the path of least resistance to the Tao; being still when it is still, in motion when it is in motion. This is not attained through knowledge or prediction of the Tao, but through feeling and following. We know that no man and no woman has acheived this on their own; the desires and thoughts and feelings of each have driven them to act outside the Tao, to their detriment and those of others. God saw this, and so sent his son (Yshua, Messiah -- often translated as Jesus the Christ). Jesus both lived in accordance with the Tao (providing an example for us) and opened the path back to the Tao for the rest of us -- undoing the breaking of the Tao done by our ancestors. Except through him, none have come to the Tao and only through him can one come to the Tao. In him, the physical form of Tao came to us, died for us, rose for use, and now sends the essence of the Tao to those who would return to the Tao.

In this translation, the Holy Spirit is "the essence of the Tao," Christ the "form of the Tao," and God and God's will "the physical form of the tao." It is not lost on me that the definition "the physical form of the Tao" seems nonsense, but it seems the same sort of nonsense as "God became man and made his dwelling among us," and both seem the sort of nonsense that transends sense rather than the kind that violates sense. If we don't understand God Himself (it seems obvious that the lesser cannot encompass the greater), then surely understanding of his methods of manifestation will also be beyond us.

Beyond Kung Fu?

"Is not the best way to crack a tough nut to nurture and water it so that it grows into a tree?" -- Russell M. Taylor II, 2005.

This phrase, which came to me while pondering the above, expresses in modern idiom what I see as Christ's way of dealing with your enemy. Kung Fu (in my limited understanding) seeks to use the strength of your enemy against your enemy. Christ's response goes a step further -- loving your enemy so that your enemy becomes your friend; then your enemy's strength is used for you and for your enemy at the same time. He seemed to see people as either friends, or friends to be won through sacrifice. When he arrived, we were all his enemies. Now, many are his brothers and sisters.

Romanian Translation (2012)

Maxim Petrenko did the wonderful favor of translating this essay into Romanian. You can find it here.

Related essays

I'm not the judge.

He is not my God.

Comments on The Blind Watchmaker

Version 1. Copyright 2005, Russell M. Taylor II