Unless all is known, nothing is known

TanZo (the “simple Way”) denies the supremacy of the world over the mind, and asserts human existence as the true object of life.

The famous dictum “Unless all is known / nothing is known” asserts that the pursuit of knowledge is futile, that knowledge itself is an illusion.

Unless one sees with the eye of a god – all times and all places in a single conclusion – then the nature of phenomena and of events must remain forever cryptic, enigmatic and without terminus.

Phenomena are understood as constructs of the human imagination. As such, they are permanently in the process of being imagined. Their condition is possible, not definite, and provisional, not fixed. It is always possible to re-imagine any phenomenon: indeed, it is impossible not to re-imagine phenomena.

We use words and systems of measurement to establish a sense of order in the world. However, words are in perpetual need of definition, and are subject to a constant process of re-definition. Change the meaning of one word in a language, and the relations between all words in that language are subtly shifted. Add a new word, allow an old word to be provided to oblivion, and the relations between all words in the language are subtly shifted. Alter one language, and that language’s relation to all other languages alters.

As for measurement, it is an empty hallway through which no one moves

Measurement is useless to us without interpretation and context:

Should we measure the height of a drowning traveller? Or measure the width of the flames burning a building?

Measuring phenomena in order to establish a system of quantification, and using such systems to assert mastery over the material world, is unproductive: TanZo rejects such illusions of power. By exploring the material world, one merely adds to the material world, that is to say, promulgates materiality. Notions of objects and places, times and distances, speeds, forces, are empty. All such “knowledge” could be frozen now, and the key problems of human life would be the same, before and after the end of the pursuit of knowledge.

For TanZo, these key problems may be reduced to one essential question: how do human beings live peacefully with each other, in an order of respect for life?

TanZo is a moral and pragmatic “order of respect for life”. TanZo concerns not the number of stars, the number of years, the place the universe was born, the place the universe will die, the distance between this city and that village, the speed the bird flies, the weight of the sun, but how to avoid the drives that lead to hatred and anger, to violence, vendetta, murder and woe.

Why measure the atoms in the blade of a murderer’s sword?

TanZo therefore rejects the project of establishing some mystical world of objects, a place equally available to all, with stable measure and fixed purpose, and insists upon the human presence in all human things. “Whether we wish it or not, for us, the world is human, even when it is inhuman”.

TanZo views the pursuit of knowledge as a mechanical and trivial activity. TanZo asserts the mind itself – and not the constructions of the mind – as the crucial arena of human endeavour.

People do not travel by ships or bridges, roads or sleighs: they travel by thinking, through mind.

The mind is arbiter over all things. “To each thing, the mind brings inspection, value, desire, intention, question, ephemera, obliteration”. “There is no pure, unadulterated world, and no pure, unadulterated mind, and no pure, unadulterated place in between… There is the world, in action.”

TanZo‘s central concerns are not progressive: they are not economic, they are not to do with expansion or domination of the material or the intellectual world. They are moral concerns: how can the human beings live together, gently, kindly, valuing life, wanting to live, and not hating life, rushing to die in “the struggle to obtain this set of atoms rather than that set of atoms”.

All the energy of life should go into cultivating the mind, so that one is aware one breathes, one touches, one sees, one feels. To be together, human being with human being, gently abiding, to dwell without impatience, to value the fact that one can breathe, touch, see, feel, this is the true Way.

To sit so still on a summer evening, you may hear the mountain sigh — that is TanZo.