It is incredible to think that Lao-Tzu, the Chinese philosopher who founded Taoism, lived as long ago as the 5th Century BCE.
Much of what he conceived of can accommodate the strange quirks of quantum physics!
So much so that Fritjof Capra was inspired to write the “Tao of Physics”.
Lao-Tzu sensed the magnificence of the Universe, realising that our human senses are limited in their perception of what is “really there”, and that there is far more "there" than we can imagine.
But in the context of Green and Sustainability, the Tao is perhaps one of the most fundamental philosophical sources that we can use to help inspire us to act strategically in our quest to save the Planet.
We do need to save the Planet – or else we will be doomed, along with it.
Lao-Tzu had the uncanny ability to understand the idea of working in harmony with Nature.
By Nature he saw more than the physical environment that we typically think of, he saw a Totality that is all-inclusive and inter-connected.
He felt the "elasticities of patterns of engagement", that small changes can create a momentum that achieves a critical mass after which large effects occur.
In the same way that small negative changes can accumulate into a large negative effect so too can small positive changes accumulate into a large positive effect.
It is the realm of Yin and Yang, where “positives” and “negatives” are just forces and counter forces.
Perhaps the most central aspect of the Tao is the value of being in harmony.
In a state of harmony, the nature of “what is” is allowed to be, and the result flows efficiently and effectively with the minimal of effort.
That leads into the idea of “wu wei” or “action without action”.
We can think of this also as “working with the grain and not against it”.
Better still, “working with the flow of circumstance and the nature of things”.
It is not as abstract as that seems ... canoeists shooting rapids do this automatically as the result of working against the flow of energy will result in a spill.
Within any given situation there are aspects that when we apply our values will yield either “positive” or “negative” values.
What may seem an overall “net negative value” circumstance will have ingredients that we can find as “positive” - if we apply our minds with purpose to find them.
For example, Africa is a major user of cellular technology because the lack of copper wires throughout Africa (what would have been seen as a “negative”) make the idea of digging trenches for Africa a non-starter.
This stimulates us to not go that route but to embrace the alternative technology of cellular or satellite communications.
There is a Malawian at Kalk Bay selling paintings who can swop SIM cards in the flash of an eye depending on who he needs to call, a local in South Africa - or his family in Malawi. Cellular literacy and skill in the usage thereof is an epidemic in Africa.
Similarly, where the electrical grid has not reached deep into rural Africa there is the opportunity to use solar and wind power. After all we do live in an abundance of sunshine with a sufficiency of wind.
The cost of extending the conventional grid offsets the currently higher costs of solar and wind energy. Good!
With the massive hike in Eskom rates, those off the grid should embrace this as a “blessing in disguise” and look forward to the savings they will achieve through renewable energy.
Most of us who can are in any event looking to move off the grid as much as possible and only use it as a last resort.
In our Ukuvuya Kit idea we see micro solar and wind energy gadgets, Jompy water purifiers, Hot Boxes, Hippo Water rollers, earthworms and a variety of other humble widgets that can act together holistically and synergistically as a “green household survival kit” - that can deliver a dignified existence at a far lower cost than conventional options just by embracing circumstances.
There is something very “wu wei” in this …
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