Never fail to act

Several years ago I picked up Deng Ming Dao’s 365 Tao.  As the title suggests, it contains 365 daily meditations, ranging from the banal to the profound.  I’ve used several of the meditations as the basis for blog posts before (see here and here, for example), but my personal favorite is today’s meditation on Engagement.

Prey passes the tiger who
Sometimes merely looks,
Sometimes pounces without hesitation,
But never fails to act.

Along with each meditation is a short (< 1 page) discussion by the author.  The discussion on Engagement includes the following:

Whatever comes to you, you must engage it somehow.  You receive it, you may aler the circumstance and let it go, you may interject something of your own into it, or you may knowingly let it pass.  Whatever you do, there is no need to be apathetic toward life.

To hear the whole discussion on Engagement, and to get your own daily dose of Taoist wisdom, check out the 365 Tao podcast.  You don’t have to be a Taoist to appreciate the lessons to be learned.

A meditation on individual expression

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a meditation on censorship. In light of all the recent discussion surrounding the film Tropic Thunder, I thought I should post this companion meditation on individual expression:

Emperors uphold censorship,
But extreme repression leads to extreme reaction.
Individualists believe in freedom,
But extreme expression leads to extreme reaction.

To answer the question I posed in my last post, “No, I don’t believe the creators of pop-culture have a responsibility for limiting their content to what is ‘acceptable’.” The nature of art is individual expression, and in that the ‘artist’ is responsible only to himself.

As the meditation above states, though, this unlimited expression might result in “extreme reaction.” Artists must accept the consequences of their expression. If they offend or anger a group of people, or even individuals, they should expect those people to express their own feelings. This could be a blog post, a letter to the editor, or a boycott.

In the case of Tropic Thunder, I don’t agree with calls for the film to be changed or for it to not be shown. That is an extreme on the “censorship” end of the spectrum. I do, however, support those who call for a boycott or other action against by individuals or groups about the film. That is an acceptable reaction to the individual expression of the film-makers.