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The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm Read Online (FREE)

In Lao-tse’s philosophy the same idea is expressed in a more poetic form. A characteristic example of Taoist paradoxical thinking is the following statement: “Gravity is the root of lightness; stillness the ruler of movement.” (Mueller, op. cit., p. 69.) Or “The Tâo in its regular course does nothing and so there is nothing which he does not do.” (Ibid., p. 79.) Or “My words are very easy to know, and very easy to practice; but there is no one in the world who is able to know and able to practice them.” (Ibid., p. 112.) In Taoist thinking, just as in Indian and Socratic thinking, the highest step to which thought can lead is to know that we do not know. “To know and yet [think] we do not know is the highest [attainment]; not to know [and yet think] we do know is a disease.” (Ibid., p. 113.) It is only a consequence of this philosophy that the highest God cannot be named. The ultimate reality, the ultimate One cannot be caught in words or in thoughts. As Lao-tse puts it, “The Tâo that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tâo. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name.” (Ibid., p. 47.) Or, in a different formulation, “We look at it, and we do not see it, and we name it the ‘Equable.’ We listen to it, and we do not hear it, and we name it the ‘Inaudible.’ We try to grasp it, and do not get hold of it, and we name it the ‘Subtle.’ With these three qualities, it can not be made the subject of description; and hence we blend them together and obtain The One.” (Ibid., p. 57.) And still another formulation of the same idea: “He who knows [the Tâo] does not [care to] speak [about it]; he who is [however ready to] speak about it does not know it.” (Ibid., p. 100.)

Brahman philosophy was concerned with the relationship between manifoldness (of phenomena) and unity (Brahman). But paradoxical philosophy is neither in India nor in China to be confused with a dualistic standpoint. The harmony (unity) consists in the conflicting position from which it is made up. “Brahmanical thinking was centered from the beginning around the paradox of the simultaneous antagonisms—yet—identity of the manifest forces and forms of the phenomenal world …”[20] The ultimate power in the Universe as well as in man transcends both the conceptual and the sensual sphere. It is therefore “neither this nor thus.” But, as Zimmer remarks, “there is no antagonism between ‘real and unreal’ in this strictly non-dualistic realization.” (Ibid.) In their search for unity behind manifoldness, the Brahman thinkers came to the conclusion that the perceived pair of opposites reflects the nature not of things but of the perceiving mind. The perceiving thought must transcend itself if it is to attain true reality. Opposition is a category of man’s mind, not in itself an element of reality. In the Rig-Veda the principle is expressed in this form: “I am the two, the life force and the life material, the two at once.” The ultimate consequence of the idea that thought can only perceive in contradictions has found an even more drastic sequence in Vedantic thinking, which postulates that thought—with all its fine distinction—was “only a more subtle horizon of ignorance, in fact the most subtle of all the deluding devices of maya.” (Ibid., p. 424.)