Wednesday, April 27, 2016

'The Path' (2016): Journey I

Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh, The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016).

Like a radish, this book tastes best when thinly sliced.

"Heart-Mind" imbalance. You can see this just about anywhere: people's life-paths obstructed by their own emotion. 

Emotion can obscure otherwise clear thinking and, thanks to paralysis, prevent good action.  

In the long term, an effective approach is this: "respond to people in ways that we have cultivated, instead of through immediate emotional reaction" (page 27). 

Don't let your EQ muddle your IQ.

"A Confucian approach . . . note your patterns and . . . work actively to shift them . . . (page 43).  ". . . just as the world is fragmented, we are, too. Instead of . . . single, unified selves . . . complex arrays of emotions, dispositions, desires, and traits . . . often pull us in different and contradictory ways" (Ibid.).

Somewhere in the text, the authors note that we choose to "nourish" certain relationships (and interests) -- or not. Here it is: different "trajectories exist all around us. . . Your neglect is an active choice that will set things on a certain path" (pages 64-65). This is true: by not doing, we are doing, and by doing, we are not trying something different. Don't be so stubborn about not branching out. 

And last thought for now: "Use your mind to cultivate your emotions. Become aware of . . . patterned habits . . . entrenched narratives . . ." (page 71).  

I've been reading daoist and other Chinese philosophy in English translation since I was about twelve or thirteen, only then it was called taoist in English; Laozi and Dao de jing were more often spelled Lao Tzu and the Tao Te Ching. 

None of The Path is entirely new, but the old is given a few new twists, possibly because of more refined translations and additional contemplation. Kind of clunky, but interesting. 

Today's Rune: Possessions.   


the walking man said...

Neglect IS an active choice. It is also a complicated one, it forces the neglected to be more self reliant rather than thinking another will always be there. There are many variables and outcomes that are not predictable, ergo the choices I make should lead to fewer and fewer ramifications on them I have "neglected" or rather set on their own path to find their own light.

Charles Gramlich said...

Been too long since I've delved into any philosophy. The problems of living go far in keeping us from thinking about what that living means.

thejspotjodi said...

Erik-why do you suppose these Chinese guys were so very introspective?