IUAES Inter-Congress on
Metropolitan Ethnic Cultures: Maintenance and Interaction
July 24-28, 2000, Beijing, China
LUCIAN BLAGA AND TAO
Dr. George Anca, Romania
I do not crush the world’s corolla of wonders
My mind does not kill
the mysteries I meet
on my way
in flowers, eyes, on lips or in tombs.
The light of others
strangles the spell of the hidden, unpenetrated
in depths of darkness,
I with my light increase the secret of the world –
as the moon with her white rays
does not diminish, but shimmering
intesifies night’s mystery.
I do myself enrich the dark horizon
with shivers, great shivers of sainted secret,
and what’s not comprehended
becomes even more incomprehensible
under my own watching –
because I love
flowers and eyes, and lips and tombs.
Lucian Blaga, Poems of Light, A Romanian-English Bilingual Edition, English versions by Don Eulert, Ștefan Avădanei, Mihail Bogdan; Minerva Publishing House, Bucure]ti, 1975, p. 77.
This is the first poem in first poetical collection Poemele luminii / Poems of Light of Lucian Blaga appeared in 1919. In 1942, he published Religie ]i spirit / Religion and Spirit including a chapter on Tao.
Both poetry volumes and philosophical ones came out parallelly establishing a greater poet or philosopher according to commentators. The three trilogies, republished even during communist regime, are outstanding: Trilogia cunoa]terii / The Trilogy of Knowledge (“About philosophical consciousness”, “Lucypherical Knowledge”, “The Experiment and Mathematical Spirit”), Minerva, Bucure]ti, 1983, 738 p.; Trilogia culturii / The Trilogy of Culture (“Horizon and Style”, “Mioritic Space”, “The Genesis of Metaphor and the Sense of Culture”), Minerva, 1985, 478 p.; Trilogia valorilor / The Trilogy of Values (“Science and Creation”, “Magical Thought and Religion”, “Art and Value”), Minerva, 1987, 636 p. The universe of Blaga poetry was left out from 40’s to 60’s, the philosopher remained sort of pray for transition post-censorship scissors, while poetry, starting with Eminescu, became embarrassing for many, anyhow as if forgotten.
Yet in view of a conference on ahimsa – Jainist and Buddhist concept of nonviolence – the poem of Blaga seemed consonant. More so with Tao on the way to an anthropological congress in China. Actually, “Chinese temptation” as part of “Asian temptation” in Romanian culture we happened to illustrate with Description of China by Nicolae Milescu Sp`taru (XVII-th century) and Shun by George C`linescu (XX-th century).
Blaga, we think, makes philosophical references to Lao-tz[ and Kung-tz[ (Confucius) but is free from “temptation”. By rereading his chapter on tao, a striking feeling that Romanian poet renounced to self for trying to – if not be a Chinese – live a total empathy with Chinese spirit embodied by Lao-tz[ and Kung-tz[.
In the Trilogy of Knowledge Blaga retained Lao-tse’s, Book on the sense and virtue the verse that the words of truth are reversed (“Philosophy and Common Sense”), and also a poem commented as expressing the secret meaning (tâlc) of the world, fertile efficiency of negativity, of the void, in the Kosmos, maternal-feminine sense of existence, perfection of the germinative and of all tender things (“Thoughts and systems”). Paradoxes of Hui-Shi (IV-th c. B Ch.) - e. g. “an arrow in flight is neither moving nor resting” are taken as arguments of transcendental tao (“The paradoxes of metaphysics”).
In The Trilogy of Culture, Spengler symbols for cultures are evoked: ancient culture: isolated body; occidental culture: three dimensional infinity; Arabian culture: the cave (vault); Egyptian culture: labyrinthic way; Chinese culture: the path in nature; Russian culture: endless plan (“Culture and space”). Also three formative expectations: “Be your self!”; “Be like the master!” (Chief of the academy or school); “Be as only one was!” (Christ, Buddha, Confucius). (“Formative expectation”).
Trilogy of Values includes the following chapters: Introduction; From Indra to Nirvana; Tao; Cosmic health; Measure and ecstasy; Generalized wonder; Uncreated light; The birth of logos; Mystical state and faith; Faith-quake; Religiosity-thrill; Definition of religion; The sacred; Certitude and superconsciousness. Systems (Indian) and aphorisms (Chinese) are fundaments of the construction. In order to decipher Chinese spirit, one has to renounce to self. A divinatory impressionism is seen in painting, lyrics, thinking. The fragility, tenderness, ephemerity are the accessible face of a deep, total mystery (secret/ tain`) beyond the time. Much emphasis draws Blaga on meaning – mystery (tâlc/noim`, tain`, essential in his own poetry and philosophy), or instant-eternity, as an instruction to tao.
As Monet differs from integral divinatory Chinese impressionism, so does Rousseau, with his love for nature, as compared to Lao-tse. Blaga sees the great thinker of China closer to Pascal, Novalis or Nietzsche, as aphorisms are concerned. Tao as “non-existence”, “non-action”, “emptiness” is reanalyzed, with difference from Indian Brahman-Atman or Plotin’s the Unique. Lao-tz[ has influenced more the Chinese poetry, art and mystique, while Kung-Tz[ (Confucius) guided more than anybody else the Chinese life itself, assumes Blaga. Organization of life, ancient mores and rites were according to Kung-Tz[, expressions and manifestations of the Tao. Kung-Tz[ is a genius creator of rites, the greatest one the mankind has given.
About poems on Tao by Lao-tse quoted in own translation (from German?) by Lucian Blaga, one can wonder what is translator’s contribution, that is, how tao-atmosphere reaches the soul of Romanian reader.
Beyond philosophical discourse, the strong poetical mind, embodied by Chinese spirit and Tao, as core of it, meets Blaga’s own poetry up to euphony.
Lumea este un lucru spiritual
nu-i [ng`duit s` te por\i cu ea brutal
Cine ac\ioneaz` o stric`.
Cine vrea s` o cucereasc` o pierde
(The world is a spiritual thing
it is not permitted to be brutal with it.
Who acts does spoil it,
Who wants to conquer it loose it).
Eu nu strivesc corola de minuni a lumii
(I do not crush the world corolla of wonders)
Blaga doesn’t crush Tao. He almost lets himself to be crushed:
Give me a body
give me another body to pour my madness
Big earth, be my trunk,
be the chest for this tremendous heart
be shelter of the storms that crush me ,
be the amphora for my stubborn ego.