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Bateson and Taoism: A Cordial Conversation

Bateson:
Pathology is a relatively easy thing to discuss,
health is very difficult.

Laotse:
Pathology is a functional issue for discernment,
organic health is difficult to miss
unless you have switched our cooperative evolution
for your personal competitive revolution.

Bateson:
…the sacred is difficult to talk about,
because the sacred is peculiarly related to the healthy.

Laotse:
Sacrilege of mere secular profanity is difficult to miss
because sacred ecology unfolds abundant healthy organic ecopolitical systems.

Bateson, on the history of Western religious culture:
The proposition for which they were burning each other was,
on one hand, ‘the bread is the body,’
and on the other, ‘the bread stands for the body.’
…this whole argument is one of fundamental importance
when related to the whole of the nature of the sacred
and to human nature….
the richest use of the word ‘sacred’
is that use which will say that what matters
is the combination of the two,
getting the two together.

Laotse:
When is yeasty bread and wine
notnot yet a diastatic body?

Bateson:
Because it doesn’t make any prose sense,
the material of dream and poetry has to be more
or less
secret from the prose part of the mind.
It’s this secrecy,
this obscuration,
that the Protestant thinks is wrong,
and a psychoanalyst,
I suppose,
wouldn’t approve of either.
But that secrecy, you see,
is a protecting of parts of the whole process or mechanism,
to see that the parts don’t neutralize each other.
Laotse with Jaynes:
Because it doesn’t make any LeftBrain languaged sense,
the inductive material of dream and poetry and sacred ecology
is also reverse double-bind decomposing nutritional effects with causes,
a protecting of too-reductive parts of our whole organic polypathic process
to see that all parts must (0)soul compatibly neutralize each other.

Bateson:
What are you going to do about the use of the sacred?
There is a very strong tendency in occidental cultures,
and increasingly in oriental cultures,
to misuse the sacred.
You see,
you’ve got something nice,
central to your civilization,
which bonds together all sorts of values connected with love,
hate,
pain,
joy, and the rest,
a fantastic bridging synthesis,
a way to make life make a certain sort of sense.
And the next thing is that people use that sacred bridge
in order to sell things….
We can be influenced, it seems,
by any confidence trickster,
who by his appeals
makes cheap that which should not be made cheap.

Laotse:
How are you going to invest in/divest of this sacred ecology?
We have beauty and ugly,
kind and notnot kind,
in civilization as on Earth,
bonding together all values with their disvalues,
our empathic trusts with our ecopolitical distrusts and immunities.
This co-arising nonduality of positive and double-binding negative notnot
folds and unfolds a fantastic sacred bridge of synthesis toward sense,
with dissonance toward nonsense.
Those who would reduce sacred Earth Rights
to what can be merely bought and sold,
cheapen that which could become even more densely rich.

Bateson:
…while it may be fairly easy to recognize moments
at which everything goes wrong,
it is a great deal more difficult
to recognize the magic of the moments that come right;
and to contrive those moments
is always more or less impossible….
to make human relations prosper is exceedingly difficult.

Laotse:
Recognizing moments at which everything goes wrong
as tipping points,
time to upgrade risks of anger management
into opportunities of and for more expansive love development,
to consistently
predictably
normatively
climatically invite faithfulness toward co-empathic trust.

Bateson:
We are arrogant about what we might know tomorrow,
but humble because we know so little today.

Laotse:
We are Yang-overflowing about what we may know of integrity’s potential tomorrow,
co-arising with ego’s humility to notnot balance
YinYin
WinWin
today.

Note: Bateson quotes are from Sacred Unity, pp. 265-270, “Ecology of Mind: The Sacred”, HarperCollins

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