Tao in the Core


We had a brief Taoist chat in CAS 119 this morning. Where else but the Core office?

A summer student had stopped by, asking for directions to the ISSO office. We directed him to his destination, and he thanked us, but as he turned to leave he noticed the framed calligraphy painting on the wall.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s a line from the Tao Te Ching, which our students read in their first year at BU,” we told him. “It translates as the valley spirit never dies’, but perhaps you can read it for yourself!”

“Yes!” he said; “but give me a moment, I want to look at Chinese Wikipedia.”

He turned his attention to his cell phone, and after a moment looked up. “Oh yes — this is a reference to the fertility spirit worship, and ancient Taoist ideas. You know, Laozi’s works are regarded as being impossible to understand!”

We replied: “Oh yes, that is a sentiment many of our students share. Even so, they seem to enjoy their discussions of the Tao.”

He said: “I think they should read it in the original Chinese!”

We replied: You know, we bet they would agree with you.”

* * * *

So! Brainstorm time: Who do we ask about setting up a Core China Summer Study program, for a crash course in Chinese language and Taoism, some cultural immersion, and hopefully a visit to some of those mountain-top temples Prof. Green is always showing us photos of, from his days as a traveler in that part of the world?

* * *

The analect that caught this student’s attention comes from Chapter 6 of the Tao Te Ching. For more about that section,

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