Exposing The Sickness

by Christopher Lovejoy on January 5, 2014

If ignoring, dismissing, avoiding, denying, and evading what is known are the most common and obvious forms of ignorance, then pretending or presuming that I know is the worst form of ignorance.

In a series of twenty-one posts that I wrote on the essence of heart and soul, beginning with Your Kosmic Destiny and ending with Your Kosmic Journey, I wrote a post about what I call The Sickness. In this post, entitled A World of Problems, I exposed the human condition like nothing I had ever written, addressing the symptoms of a suffering humanity and then offering a remedy to address it.

I would now like to explore this theme in the light of verse 71 of the Tao Te Ching at the same time that I expose this theme to the light of verse 71 of the Tao Te Ching.

Tao Te Ching, Verse 71

In reading this verse, I quickly understood that it not be taken literally.

Knowing ignorance is strength;
Ignoring knowledge is sickness.

Only when we are sick of our sickness
shall we cease to be sick.

The sage is not sick but is sick of sickness;
this is the secret of health.

Ref: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao

With a sound interpretation, this verse yields essential wisdom.

My Impressions of the Verse

A sound interpretation of this verse requires a sound interpretation of the words sick and sickness.

Someone can be under the influence of a disease but not be sick in the same way that someone who is ill is sick. In this respect, illness is synonymous with sickness.

And so, what are we to make of this statement: ignoring knowledge is sickness.

The only way I can interpret this statement in the most charitable and favorable way is to view it as shorthand for the initial statement that I made at the beginning of this post. Here it is again:

If ignoring, dismissing, avoiding, denying, and evading what is known are the most common and obvious forms of ignorance, then pretending or presuming that I know is the worst form of ignorance.

As we can see, ignoring what is known is but one form of “sickness”.

Knowing ignorance is strength;
ignoring knowledge is sickness.

One could say that knowing when I don’t know is one kind of strength; knowing that I don’t know is another, more basic kind of strength.

It’s not that ignorance is strength (in the manner of Eric Blair’s 1984 written under the nom de plume of George Orwell); it’s that knowing ignorance (in the moment it becomes evident) is strength.

Only when we are sick of our sickness
shall we cease to be sick.

Only when we are sick and tired of ignoring, dismissing, avoiding, denying, evading, pretending, and presuming shall we cease to be sick and tired of continuing the masquerade of knowing or not knowing.

The sage is not sick but is sick of sickness;
this is the secret of health.

Sage are not sick because sages know when they know (and when they don’t know) and know that they know (and know that they don’t know). The sage is honest, transparent, authentic.

For the sage, this is the secret of health.

But is the sage actually sick of the sickness? Is it true that the sage no longer tolerates the pretense of knowledge or the pretense of not needing to know when the time comes to know? Perhaps sages are so secure in the love of being that they no longer feel compelled to admonish or correct anyone.

Implications for Personal Fulfillment

With The Sickness, we would do well to distinguish between the symptoms and the cause, asking: what are the symptoms of this sickness and what is the underlying cause of The Sickness?

In my post, A World of Problems, I presented a very long list of problems symptoms that plague characterize humanity at this time. In my post, Without Weapons?, the underlying cause of The Sickness is identified in a quote by Robert K. Hall, M.D., which begins as follows: The wound in the human psyche that produces fear, anger, greed, mistrust, and violence is the most difficult to heal.

This wound is The Wound of Separation, which keeps getting poked and prodded. Not everyone is afflicted by it, at least not personally, but everyone is affected by it, directly or indirectly.

Ignoring, dismissing, avoiding, denying, or evading this wound is just more evidence of The Sickness. Curiously, the Forward to the book that contains the quote referenced above was removed in an updated and revised edition of the book.

For this wound to be healed, and for this sickness to be resolved, requires sovereign persons who are capable of effecting a collective push for cultural unity in harmony with natural law. As structure determines behavior, the old, traditional power structures premised on separation and exclusion need to be replaced with power structures premised on cooperation and collaboration.

Fortunately, this is already happening, and has been happening for quite some time.

In the meantime, we would do well to be watchful of the three telltale signs that indicate that the wound of separation is infecting our own sense of well-being and the well-being of those we love or care about: servitude, martyrdom, and conformity. By making ourselves immune to these infections, we safeguard our capacities for innocence, nurturance, and guidance.

Say “no” to servitude: stop being a slave; unless it’s done in a spirit of discovery and fun, stop being subject to someone (or something) that you perceive as being more powerful than you.

Say “no” to martyrdom: stop being a martyr; unless you feel you have something profound to learn, stop being a sieve for suffering and stop believing you need to suffer for any reason whatsoever.

Say “no” to conformity: stop being a sap; unless it’s done for reasons that you define, lose the habit of thinking you must always conform to accepted behavior or established practice.

In other words, be sovereign: find it within yourself to be yourself; immerse yourself in the love of being, as desired; if needs be, take back ownership of yourself. Be your own person; be a part of the collective push for cultural unity in harmony with natural law.

Say “yes!” to life, to love and light; say “no!” to servitude, martyrdom, and conformity.

I invite you, as a sovereign being, to cultivate and embrace the wisdom in verse 71 of the Tao Te Ching; if you do, you’ll do much to help this world expose The Sickness and heal The Wound of Separation.

Next up: To Live in Harmony (Living with Awe and Acceptance)

/

This post is one of many in an ongoing series that began here.

Previous post:

Next post: