Presentations given July 31st, 2021 at the symposium “China’s Rise: Its Meaning to Humanity’s Strivings” as a part of the Saturday Free School and Church of the Advocate’s Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Communist Party of China
Presentation by Caleb Chen
I had wanted to say thank you again to all the organizers for the commemoration, and all the hands who helped shape each weekend and make this all possible. Both weekends have been offered so much, it’s been incredible.
My presentation today has been inspired in large part by Doc’s and Emily’s presentation from last night. I think it was in their ideas, in their framing, and in the spirit of what they had hoped to reach with their presentations that made me realize my own task. And it was in talking with Michelle that helped pry me away from my own tendency for bookishness and clear away the uncertainties regarding the more preeminent questions.
Most of all, without all the past conferences, dinners, meetings, and numerous conversations I’ve had with the members of the Free School. It’s only out of this context, out of this struggle that I feel halfway ready to stand here and speak today. I take immense courage from this.
Today, I wanted to begin briefly by talking about the idea of unifying the three traditions that have shaped the development of modern China. As they are commonly known, these three traditions comprise those ideas found in the Enlightenment tradition, the Confucian tradition and the Socialist tradition. Unifying the three traditions, or tongsantong, emerges from an essay written by Gan Yang, a political philosopher in Sun Yat Sen University, which electrified the intellectual community in China in their pursuit of philosophical traditions carrying with them the possibility of reimagining the future development of China. Many scholars, in the months and years following this essay’s publication, tried their hand at envisioning what these traditions might be, some of which have included dividing Confucianism itself into several historical strains of thought and further separating socialism into both Mao and Deng’s theoretical contributions. What is less important is expending time on exactly identifying what these traditions must be and slotting into one of the three. Such an exercise becomes formulaic and escapes the more foundational questions that prompted the necessity of such a framework. The essay was written and shared
If anything, unifying the three traditions
A far more pressing question
What traditions will China root itself in and how do
I want to say that this presentation was realized after weeks of meticulous study and careful writing. Honestly, I had spent all of last night and this morning hurriedly trying to transform my notes into something resembling a speech. For the longest time, I had been poring over different texts on Chinese philosophy and translations of important essays anchoring China’s contemporary intellectual discourse. For me, I find a lot of comfort in finding answers
Crystallizing what free school means to me
Significance of Radical King symposium
Returning to some of my notes from that conference
Took me 7 months to fully understand the idea of the Free School and still continually learning more each day
China still remains an enigma for me. I have never been to China before. All I had known about China were from my family members there, from my mother’s stories about her childhood in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution as China began Reform and Opening up, and my grandfather’s time as a party member. I have never left the country either.
I find reassurance in Gan Yang’s invocation that “the Chinese don’t necessarily understand China.”
How I had never left the country, the one time I was afforded an opportunity to leave the country was the same year I had found a home political organizing and the free school. I chose to stay instead.
Being in Free School had been the first time, in years that I had entered a church
- Church of the Advocate recognition
- China’s rise
- Absolute monumental growth since 1978
- In the span of only 43 years
- Reenvisioning China
- Understanding the continuities within Chinese history
- New Confucians reinterpreting Chinese dream under solely Confucian framework
- Active struggle to reimagine and rethink China as a whole
- The civilizational unity of nonviolence and love
- Crisis in values also among Chinese generation of today
- A revolution of values needed
- But what sort of revolution in values?
- Migrant workers
- Listless youth
- Neijuan- involution
- Lying flat
- Seeing China through the lens of humanity
- Our responsibility isn’t to just defend China
- Our responsibility is to America, to forging a world of peaceful mutual development
- Xi on the struggle towards socialism being hellish
- Similar to arc towards justice
- Long march spirit
- Shared destiny
- Single garment of destiny
- China’s aim to develop a new moral age
- Ending of obscene levels of tutoring
- Can CPC address the internal contradictions of society
- Not exporting revolution but upholding it
- Ours is not to emulate or to somehow grotesquely defend China back home
- The Atlantic Council’s statements that ideology must be America’s weapon to push back China
- Deng and Mao synthesized under the single thread of Chinese Communism
- Black Radical Tradition, commingled within it, is that of the Gandhian love ethic and King’s own concept of Agapic love
- Universal Love and Grades Love in Confucianism
- 仁, or humanity as the cloth binding the world
- The peaceful rise of China
- To measure China against the length of a supposed ideal of communism is to divert the conversation into theoretical territory that ignores where China stands on the world today
- Uniting American revolutionary traditions
- America is not a people but an idea
- In China, material needs to spiritual needs
- Revolution of values
- Dimensions of life
- Not to become Maoist guérillas engaging in guérilla warfare
- Love just become the principal action
- We see now not the downfall of the West but the rise of a new civilization, one that could model the civilizational exchange of Ancient India and China
- China’s rise will shape America but in turn, America’s own revival will shape China
- Love for America
- Baldwin: “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
- Afro-America <-> Asia
- Du Bois
- Bing Xin
- Huey Newton
- Gan Yang:“Yet I never care that much if Westerners are well-meaning or not; all that matters is the basis of their judgement. The complexity of things at the present time resides in the fact that almost anything you can say about China has some basis in fact. We should not think that because we are Chinese we have a better understanding of China. I don’t think that we do, or at least I really don’t. Part of this has to do with my academic speciality, which is to study the West.”
- Gan Yang: “Today we must emphasize that the tradition of Confucius, the tradition of Mao Zedong, and the tradition of Deng Xiaoping are part of the continuous whole of Chinese history and civilization. To borrow the language of China’s old Gongyang school, they compose the “unifying of the three traditions” for the new era.”
- “Even Westerners themselves do not necessarily understand the West, in the same way that I have argued today that Chinese do not necessarily understand China. To understand the West or to understand China requires the expenditure of a great deal of effort.”
- “Only when we have trained a great number of people who truly understand the West deeply will we be able to get past the false understanding of many so-called experts. This is why it is so important for the study of China to deeply study the West.”
- Fang Ning & Feng Jungong: “As our research progressed, we realized that with the advent of industrial society, extreme sports have become a common social phenomenon in all countries. In comparison with traditional societies, we can see that, to a certain extent, this is a revolution in values.”
- Xu Jilin: “Whether the Chinese people become a unified people, whether China’s national construction can succeed, depends on whether China can emerge from its current vacuum of core values, and conceive a civil religion that the entire country can affirm. This civil religion must both follow mainstream civilization, containing the universal values of all humanity, and at the same time must contain elements from China’s own historical culture. One might say that the day that China’s civil religion is born is the day that Chinese civilization will be reestablished. Compared with institutional construction, this clearly is a much more difficult civilizational transition.”
- Bing Xin: “The Chinese people will always remember their words of gratitude, and will double their efforts to oppose imperialism and support the cause of the black struggle, forever pushing forward.”
- King: “Through our scientific and technological genius we’ve made of this world a neighborhood. And now through our moral and ethical commitment we must make of it a brotherhood. We must all learn to live together as brothers—or we will all perish together as fools.”
Presentation by Serafina Harris
In explaining jazz, Baldwin describes this point about music of black people that “This music begins on the auction block …. Music is our witness, our ally. The “beat is the confession which recognizes, changes and conquers time. Then history becomes a garment we can wear and share, not a cloak in which to hide; and time becomes a friend.”
In Agnes Smedley “The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh”, Chu Teh clarifies the purpose of history as an important tool for revolutionary theory, practice, and ideological development. She writes;
“Karl Marx declared in 1857 that the Taiping uprising was a “popular war for the maintenance of Chinese nationality” and that “in a popular war the means used by the insurgent nation cannot be measured by the commonly recognized rules of regular warfare nor by any other abstract standard but by the degree of civilization only attained by that insurgent nation.”
The very fanaticism of the “southern Chinese” Marx further wrote, “In their struggle against the foreigners” seemed to mark a consciousness of the supreme danger in which Old china was placed. The death struggle of the oldest empire in the world was taking place he declared and a new era was opening in all asia”
Through Chu Teh, we learn that the length of the struggle for freedom in China stretches over centuries. It becomes clear that the centrality of the Chinese struggle for peace and a self-determined civilization that is tied to the freedom of the rest of Asia and its consequent revolutions. Further, due to the amount of time the struggle in China has taken in its process, lessons can be learned for the armies of Commnist China to hear “our Taiping dead wailing at the Ta Tu River crossing and over the town where they were slaughtered.” and and their “wail until they are avenged. Then their spirits will rest.” Thus, “In still another article, Marx made the startling statement not even thought of by the Taipings that the Taiping Revolution was “the first cry in the creation of a Chinese Republic,” and that it had already begun to write the words “Freedom, Equality and Love of Others” over the doors of that republic! The Taipings failed, General Chu said, but the Chinese Communists had learned from their mistakes and would never repeat them.”
In this time of this country, and in politics, history becomes the first point of contention. It is either we are to now be in the past because there is no present and wear expensive clothing imitating a time where life seemed to be good for the most part or, brand ourselves on social media in the form of a hippie, an angry radical with hair products to boot, or we attempt to try something new. This attempt still, though it is an attempt, can fall flat because the ruling class has attempted to obscure the lines between good and bad, progressive and regressive. The revolution in the 20th century in America was hindered and broken apart by interests of American imperialism and war, and similar to the winners of the Taiping revolution, history is obscured by the interests antagonistic to the people. So by what basis do we perceive ourselves, at this time? How do we build ourselves, up upon what foundation? What really are our roots? It is one thing to be reminiscent, and like the songs of Marvin Gaye, but it is another thing to ask what he asks, and what people are still asking – “What’s going on?”
It is at this point of reality where one must point out the lie of the reassuring history that America has progressed to the point where one just does not have to work. Where there is no struggle, and we are beyond history itself. Where, there must be no racial conflict. One has to, instead of escaping our history, face the music, as Baldwin points out while describing the birth of jazz. He writes that it“Bears witness to one of the most obscene adventures in the history of mankind. It is a music which creates what we call History cannot sum up the courage to do, the response to that absolutely universal question: Who am I? What am I doing here?…” and Baldwin would continue to ask in this regard, how does a singer like Nina Simone or Ray, Miles, and so on did, and do confront this question and – and make that captivity a song?. Baldwin writes thusly, “So much for the European vanity, which imagines that with the single word “History” it controls the “past” defines the “present” and there fore cannot but suppose that the “future” will prove to be as willing to be brought into captivity as the slaves they imagine themselves to have discovered as the “nigger” they had no choice but to invent”. This invention, Baldwin warns, will describe you, but will certainly betray you, which it does, because the history of a people can be lied about to control public opinion; people can succumb to moral and psychological degradation which causes internal strife between man, woman and child and inspire insecurities towards the inner-self. We, Black, White, South American, Asian Americans have come to not recognize ourselves, and do not see ourselves in the world. There is similarly, no vision to struggle out of a counterrevolutionary basis. Where could this vision stem from? As Du Bois would write in the World and Africa
“China is flesh of your flesh (Africa) and blood of your blood. China is colored and knows what a colored skin in this modern world subjects its owner. But china knows more, much more than this: she knows what to do about it. She can take the insults of the United States and still hold her head high. She can make her on machines or go without machines, when America refuses to sell her American manufacturers even though this throws her workers out of jobs and hurts American industry. China does not need American nor British missionaries to teach her religion and scare her with tales of hell. China has been in hell too long, not to believe in a heaven of her own making. This she is doing.”
A synthesis emerges of the values in the world revolutionary process of the 20th century; if understood in its proper context of the struggle for peace, justice, and coexistence. This is the foundation that world humanity can grow and flourish. It is the synthesis of the specific nature of struggle per nation that it befits, that reality emerges. And though civilizations vary, and its nations are different, it is the values in the lifeworlds of people that tie human beings to reality to find meaning. One can understand as Baldwin says that “the dangers of being an American artist are not greater than they are being an artist anywhere else in the world, but they are very particular. These dangers are produced by our history.” This false history rests on the fact that there is no human. If there was human rooted in their particular civilization, the realization of oneself emerges as key to peace — and similarly there is a calm that over takes Baldwins’ statement as it furthers itself and states of a “particular aloneness of which I speak – the aloneness in which one discovers that life is tragic, and therefore unutterable beautiful.” Du Bois states that this
“…Would take a new way of thinking on Asiatic lines to work this out; but there would be a chance that out of India, out of Buddhism and Shintoism, out of the age old virtues of Japan and China itself, to provide for this different kind of Communism, a thing which so far all attempts at a socialistic state in Europe have failed to produce; that is a communism with its Asiatic stress on character on goodness, on spirit through family loyalty and affection might war of Thermidor; might stop the tendency of the Western soloistic state to freeze into Bureaucracy. It might be through the philosophy of Gandhi and Tagore, of Japan and China really create a vast Democracy into which the ruling dictatorship of the proletariat would use and deliquesce; and thus instead of socialism ever becoming a stark negation of freedom of thought and tyranny of action and propaganda of science and art, it would expand to a great democracy of the spirit.”
For example, the Harlem Renaissance would be understood by its historical context, its substance, which it does not lack. The Harlem Renassiance was a period of American culture that reached its apex due to the ongoing struggle for manhood, freedom, and against war and poverty — the artists themselves not only were some, tied to struggle, but were few generations away from slavery. Paul Robeson said it himself in an interview in 1958 that;“I was born on the edge of Robeson County and my father is Robeson and was a Robeson, because he was a slave. My own father, a slave of the Scottish Robesons, who still controls Robeson county in North Carolina.” This is why, Robeson says that he approaches the problems of war, poverty and racism “from a close point. But”, he says, “I have a home and my people are tobacco workers and sharecroppers today in that county; but a part of that soil belongs to me, that’s my roots.”
Paul Robeson would have a context in which he emerges that makes sense, which is from the freedom struggle in America and the various struggles in the world. This would give reason and purpose to Robeson singing the folk songs of the people, the songs of work and toil, suffering and love, of China, Russia, Africa, the Eastern Europeans and Slavs. Robeson emerges from a multi generational struggle against slavery, just as China was struggling against fuedalism and the drudgery of the lack of diginity and poverty. The importance of Huan Zhen as an artist in the Long March is that fact that the Long March is the birthplace of civilization of modern China. Zhen himself was grounded in the philosophy of art that is centered on ancient traditions of Buddhism and Confucius. These grounding philosophies create a worldview of how to create art and are guiding principles to define the difference between truth and untruth, which are the same guiding principles to look at history and the figures of history.
This is the same for the Black Arts movement. Sculptor Augusta Savage, writer Langston Hughes, Emile Capoya, Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, all stem from struggle, all depict struggle, for, the Black Arts Movement would be a synthesis of the tradition and civilization of black people that is grounded on fundamental values of America as well as black folk specifically. It is a distortion and a whitewashing of this fact that creates the writer James Baldwin to be just a gay writer when he is a man of values that are comprehensive, or ignore the contribution of Dr.WEB Du Bois’s life to be rather understood as a black writer who attempted to become white. Instead it is the responsibility to know these culture bearers as they would be placed in history as fighters for peace and justice, as men and women striving for better civilization. This is of the utmost importance. If we have a true understanding of them, we can remember who America really is. We can understand ourselves by an honest understanding of these figures, and be able to create as artists are able to do; but more importantly, allow people relief, and have a revitalization of the soul.
These artists who are lost to the present generation like painters Charles White and Norman Lewis, Romare Beardon and Aaron Doulas; singers like Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, Marian Anderson, the Temptations — They could be taken seriously and loved; if we truly knew them, and wanted to know from whence they came. To move forward as human beings, we must learn from our past. The theater would rock, alive with the human need to express ideas of man and democracy. Painting would be alive and narrate the stories of old to the young. Music would reconcile life and press on with love as its driving force. Writing would be precognitive, and Science would, too. Education would be the foremost mission of democracy in the United States instead of war and profit, because life would be extended to the Immortal child, and as Du Bois writes we would be living in a life world that would “seek not to make men carpenters but to make carpenters men”. Men would have a reason to live and their children would have a purpose and future.
Lorraine Hansberry, would also be heard, with her question posed in a short story entitled “What are the Use of Flowers”. This is a story about a hermit finding children, or children finding the hermit after a bomb had killed the rest of humanity. And, as the man, who will attempt to teach civilization upon these children, teach the human experiment, driven by the will to live, though he thinks he’s failed in his attempt, still answers this question posed by the children with the response;
“Why, the USE of flowers …
Well, there were in the old days, certain perfectly tasteless individuals who insisted on making wine out of them. But that was not a use – it was a violation.
Ah, but the uses of flowers are Infinite.
One can smell them
One may touch their petals and feel heaven
Or one may write quite charming verses about them.”
To deal with reality, and have a vision that inspires people to the future one has to be grounded by what came before to define the present because it is the responsibility of the artist to also attempt to say something for people, and to speak even when other people cannot. Culture, as Henry Winston states is “derived in the main from the experience of blacks in the struggle for freedom.” White supremacy and western civilization, in this moment is in decline, and so it is in this struggle with reality and our historic moment that would encourage the rise of a true renaissance of humanity and beauty.
Presentation by Arthur Robinson
Verse 60 of the Dhammapada reads as follows:
“Long is the night to the sleepless,
Long is the road to the weary traveler,
Long is the cycle of samsara, rebirth, to the unwise,
Who do not know the truth.”
From two opposite ends of the world came immensely similar conclusions about the true nature of humanity and its destiny in the universe – from the Afro-American tradition, thinkers like DuBois, Martin Luther King Jr., Huey Newton, Paul Robeson peered into the depths of their own struggles, their own people’s struggles and through it saw the greater struggle interwoven among all people. Their guiding ideas and principles arrive in the same vein of the centuries of progress from the spiritual thinkers of the East – from the simple and yet profound notion that as humans we are responsible for the wellbeing of other humans, and that the universe’s natural order dictates that our destiny is to live in communion with and for one another; to remove the boundaries that keep us in futile conflict, selfishness, and suffering.
It is easy, and indeed, somewhat commonplace for people to state that they live selflessly and have committed their lives for their fellow man. I would assume most of us here today would say “I see that this world suffers and want to remedy it.” But in this age, particularly for my generation, we do not even have a clear and honest vision of our own humanity – even for those of us who actively pursue and desire a life devoid of ego, bound to the ideals of oneness and interbeing with others, the path has been made insidiously unclear. It’s easy to say “I have arrived at these ideals, and now can show others the way” but, frankly speaking, we are still the product of this moment’s anti-human conditions. In traditions like Buddhism, it’s noted that when we suffer – when we feel anguish, anger, or violence with others, it is because we are, somewhere within, attached to our ego and detached from compassion.
Verse 5 “Animosity does not eradicate animosity. Only by loving kindness is animosity dissolved. This law is ancient and eternal.”
King: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
The cynic, the scholar, the academic all could invariably agree that of course King would have beliefs that align with Buddhist and Vedic beliefs, as he was so inspired by Gandhi – but more than that, King was a man of towering faith. And true faith, a vast and clear vision of humanity, is universally available to all beings regardless of creed, because true faith allows us to see the divine we each contain.
Yet our generation especially struggles, and our vision is especially unclear, as we have grown in a pocket of the world where our communities have undergone a spiritual atrophy and in many cases such as universities and schools, a full spiritual coma. Its consequences are long and catastrophic, and readily visible. From the skyrocketing violence we see in our urban centers, gun violence and homicide rates; even the privileged are not exempt. Students at universities are fully inundated with self loathing, suicidal intent, and a complete and utter divorce from hope for anyone, let alone themselves. People instead worship at the altars of nihilism, ego, and escapism. We stare at doomsday clocks and freely wear a mistrust for each other and ourselves.
When we look deeper at our suffering, at the current suffering of our peers, we see that these ills are among the greatest obstacles in nurturing transformation, unity, and vision; and how blessed we are that the remedies for these illnesses are all before us still, honed and refined over their long trajectory from cradle of Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Shinto Civilizations to great thinkers like Martin Luther King Jr, whose 3 Dimensions of Life I will reference often in part due to their immense similarities to the teachings of Buddha, and DuBois, whose works are clearly compatible with the philosophies and traditions of the East.
We can begin with one of the illnesses that is easiest to find among ourselves – the self. We’re a generation of simultaneously self-serving and self-loathing children. We all feel, and I mean all of us unless somehow one of you somehow achieved Nirvana while I wasn’t looking, feel suffering. We are inundated with messaging and branding about the importance of “self-care”, which really equates to self-numbing and isolation. We have been confused to see most forms of self reflection and self compassion as extensions of the same baseless, obstructive, hollow forms of selfishness we see manufactured around us. Self numbing would teach us to meet our negative feelings like anger, jealousy, fatigue with selfish, assuaging behavior. But true self compassion gives us the courage to look inward and ask the questions we’re often too afraid to answer: “Why do I resent my friends?” “Why am I jealous of what that person has?” “Why do I feel insecure?”
Self compassion mandates that you look inwards and see your own true nature – that you are unmuddled by your ego enough to see what opportunity and potential you offer, and what currently holds you back.
This is where MLK comes with the length of life:
“We have a legitimate right to be concerned about ourselves, and we must be so concerned about ourselves that we set out early in life to discover what we are made for, for God has called up all of us to do something.”
From the Dhammapada:
“Stronger than the man who conquers one thousand in battle, is the man who conquers himself.”
And from 67 of the Tao Te Ching:
“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest wonders.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world”
And then again, surmised succinctly by King:
“If you aren’t concerned about yourself, you aren’t really going to be concerned about other selves.”
To look inward and reflect with self compassion is to tap into our own humanity and its limitless energy, its connecting force which bridges us to the rest of the world. It is, in short, not an empty love of looking at your reflection and finding yourself pleasant – it is looking inward and knowing you have a responsibility to yourself. That you cannot run from your own suffering so much as you can run from your own shadow – and from that remedy, finding the dignity and care with which you are owed, as any human is owed. How is it that we feel we can take on the responsibility of our fellows when we are willing to commit such sad acts towards ourselves? That we break our own trust time and time again – that we punish ourselves for our own perceived failures instead of reaching inward and giving ourselves a hand to lift ourselves towards our potential. And with this – shame and self loathing are dissolved, the great obstructors for clearing our vision towards our own humanity.
From seeing ourselves clearly, we then work to unmake the rabid and unchecked ego fed by our current moment. I am familiar with the feeling of wanting to impose my own enlarged imprint on the world as a reaction to feeling entirely small and overlooked, especially as I began my theatre career. As Buddhist tradition encourages us to see the true nature of existence, we learn the concept of interdependence and no-self – that is, the realization that nothing exists completely independently of anything else. The bread we eat had to be baked, the wheat had to be farmed, the farmer had to be born and fed – and speaking plainly, someone had to care for us when we were a helpless child, and whoever did that too needed someone to care for them in their times of need. In examining how many conditions had to be met, how many things had to go properly for us to exist, to think, to speak the way we do, we better understand how completely bound we are to one another, and how, if one thing is changed, everything else is too. Remove the water, no wheat grows. With no wheat, no bread, with no bread, no food. And therefore what responsibility we must have, in understanding that we are not complete or whole without others, to ensure the wellbeing of all others.
And this idea of interdependence is near completely indistinguishable from what King describes as the breadth of life, mankind’s willingness to rise outside of the self and work for the benefit of all humanity:
“Now, he was good because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou ” He was good because he could nse above the length of life and incorporate the breadth.”
And even more concretely in his letter from Birmingham jail:
“I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
It also gives us a great deal of context for great DuBois in The World and Africa and his presentation of imperialism’s great crimes lying not only in its cruelty, but in its ability to obfuscate and disconnect the world. From chapter 2:
“The frightful paradox that is the indictment of modern civilization and the cause of its moral collapse is that a blameless, cultured, beautiful young woman in a London suburb may be the foundation on which is built the poverty and degradation of the world. For this, someone is guilty as hell. Who?”
Spirituality, when ingrained in everyday life, brings us closer to seeing the world the way God means for us to see it. When we surrender ourselves to something higher, the people and actions we see everyday each become miraculous and worthy of loving. Yet this too brings grief – because we also see the cruelties, the injustices, the way wrong has been brought to that which we care the world for.
There is a time when we look at the vastness of the world, and by extension, the vastness of its many contradictions and ills and say “that’s too much, I give up.” We can see in our minds, somewhere, that we are able to change some things, but that the bigger things are beyond our grasps – and we meet the illness of nihilism and fear and the remedy of faith. Faith, in the most base of terms, is trust. Trust is sometimes described as blind, but I posit instead the trust comes at its strongest when we gain a greater understanding of something. Belief becomes a catalyst to gaining deeper insight to the truth the world – we observe what happens when we touch our own humanity, we feel how joyous it is when we are fully enveloped in one another – and conversely how painful it is when we are self serving, self loathing, and in discord with one another. So the natural conclusion we reach from our observations bring us to the same conclusions as Siddhartha, as King, as those who followed revolutionary action into the most dire circumstances and refused to waver – that at its core, the true nature of the universe and those living within it, is just. That God watches over us when we are tired – that the gross calamity of imperialism and servitude are aberrations. That we have been given all the divine tools to help and heal one another. That life is holy, and our commitment to it will bring us naught but joy.
What else could inspire the peasant to take up arms against the oppressor? For dynasties to be toppled, Emperors deposed, the unjust removed generation after generation? Across thousands of miles – through mountains and wilderness, that to the unfaithful must seem like uncertainty and chaos. What drives someone to see the great obstacles of life – to not see fully what awaits on the other side – but to know, with every fiber, that it must be freedom? A liberation from all suffering – Nirvana, Heaven, and light everlasting.
From King on the Height of Life:
“First, I think that this cause is right. And since it is right I believe that God is with it because God is on the side of right. And therefore, I can go on with a faith that because God is with the
struggle for the good life victory is inevitable.”
From the Tao Te Ching verse 50:
“I have heard that those who celebrate life walk safely among the wild animals. When they go into battle, they remain unharmed. The animals find no place to attack them and the weapons are unable to harm them. Why? Because they can find no place for death in them.
And from Dark Princess, when Matthew finally overcomes himself, his own fear, and his own shame so that he may embrace humanity:
“Matthew found a seat backward by a window. Leaning out, he spied a boy with lunches hurrying up to the white folks’ car, and he induced him to pause and bought a piece of fried chicken and some cornbread that tasted delicious. Then he looked out
The Spring sang in his ears; flowers and leaves, sunshine and shade, young cotton and corn. He could not think. He could not reason. He just sat and saw and felt in a tangled jumble of thoughts and words, feelings and desires, dreams and fears. And above it all lay the high heart of determination.
They rolled and bumped along. He sat seeing nothing and yet acutely conscious of every sound, every movement, every quiver of light, the clamor of hail and farewell, the loud, soft, sweet, and raucous voices. The movement and stopping, the voices and silence, grew to a point so acute that he wanted to cry and sing, walk and rage, scream and dance. He sat tense with half-closed eyes and saw the little old depot dance up from the far horizon, slip near and nearer, and slowly pause with a sighing groan…
The sounds fell away and died, and his feet were on the path – his Feet were on the Path! And the surge of his soul stifled his breath. He saw the wood, the brook, the gate. Beyond was the blur of the dim old cabin looking wider and larger.”