Engagement with the world happens on many levels. One of the most difficult actions is keeping faith in the good of humankind even as you see folks  overladen with distractions.

I read Star Wars novels, like to go to blockbuster movies, don’t mind watching a few strings of memes as they develop on the internet. I do this and balance it with reading Edmund Husserl or Martin Heidegger. All of these things can be productive diversions along the Great Way that tell me where I am, how I got there, and whence I might be moving.

I have no resolve to keep reaching out and coaxing folks.  I don’t mean I am going to stop blogging. Just that there must be a moment when you recognize that the amount of energy expended in engaging people face to face as well as online is becoming an energy drain.

Withdrawing from those who choose to drown in distractions is a necessity if you will not drown yourself. I don’t want to float in theorizing or splash about in activism.

Mindfulness requires letting-go, retracting, from the many and concentrating on the few.

If faith in the possibility of humankind would survive, you cannot put hope in every single person. Only those who are willing to work. From there, it can spread out.

I don’t mean in a vanguard theory of the elite. Such notions only recreate the systems of control and dominance by which all human beings currently suffer.

I mean that something radical can become rhizomatic as it moves through everyone, making us aware of our interconnectedness.


  1. People have different ways of working their energies to produce maximum effect.

    A reader of Husserl, and particularly of Heidegger, I think a lot about what it means to be, authentically. For me, that has meant not plodding away at one thing, since my mind naturally hops from one subject to another in intense but short spurts, and the suppression of an interest or creative expression is more draining and energy-consuming than allowing one’s mind to follow the course it feels urgently compelled to follow.

    To express in various mediums and explore various interests: perhaps that is not what the “Great Way” instructs. 🙂 Certainly, this manner of working is incompatible with social divisions of labor, and the specialization (alienation?) we are all coerced into in order to “be” someone, in society.

    But being maximally efficient in society is only one of many possible aims in life, and it often contradicts maximizing the development of your personal potential, which is not limited to a single area. The latter feels more authentic to me as a way of life.

    1. Agreed. As my colleague Wenlong and I continue our translations of the Daodejing, I find more and more that being on the Great Way just means being one with the flow of this Beautiful Order (physis/natura/wu-li). As that flow does not run in one direction but swirls and twirls and dips and freezes and and and… well, good to learn how to move about. Specialization/alienation certainly have some productive output but often have to control the experiment so much within “laboratory” conditions, it is not really being-in-the-world so much as “circulating in the enclosure.”

  2. Good stuff here. I am reminded of some statement Heidegger made about the increasingly mechanistic nature of civilization, and how we are now left to, “…annihilate ourselves amid the giddy whorl of our products.” I like that you begin with H and end with the Dao. I have always found consolation in the old Chinese proverb that one should be a king on the outside and a sage on the inside. Externally,be politically engaged, handle your business affairs, and face the world head on. Internally, reside in your bamboo grove, perch on the mountain peak, and be the calm in the eye of the storm.

    1. Thanks Johnny. I am finding the great pleasure of my life to be my work on co-translating the Daodejing. The outward facing King/the inward facing Sage: very appropriate to this notion of withdrawing. 🙂

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