Loosely meaning “the way” or “the path,” Taosim originated in prehistoric China and has exerted a strong influence over Chinese thinking for ages. During China’s cultural revolution of 1966-1976, many Taoist temples were desecrated and monks sent to hard labor camps. Nonetheless, the Taoist view of historic places and memorials to the past resonate today.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
The Tao on Historic Places
“Autumn trees swept with dawn,
Look as if they’ve been lacquered,
Rooted around an old battlefield,
The mists linger here like ghosts.”
There are still places where you can walk and feel a profound gloom. Such is the case with old battlefields. People died there. The force of their determination still resonates.
You can find such places in every country. Often, no one builds anything there, even when land is dear. We say that we do not want to forget our dead. We say there should be a memorial. Others say that the disturbance there is so great that the living cannot abide with the dead.
History is essential to our understanding of the present. Unless we are conscious of the way in which we came to this point in time as a people, then we shall never fully be able to plan the present and the future. We need to know what roots are still alive.
We need to know how things came to be so that we can project from here. We also need to know the failures of the past so that we can avoid repeating them.
History is not always glorious. Sometimes our history is melancholy. We must accept that. This life is terrible and people do terrible things to each other. If we are to live for the sake of the good and strong, then we should have as much of a background as possible.”
(365 Tao, Daily Meditations, Deng Ming-Dao, Harper San Francisco, 1992, pg. 278)