To Conceive the Inconceivable, to Speak the Unspoken
In the winter of 1949, under the cover of fog and darkness, a Chinese junk slipped silently down the Pearl River into the South China Sea. On board were my two beloved instruments, one a five-year-old boy whose name Seeu-Sung means Beautiful Life, the other was Jung-Wun, a sixty-year-old man whose name means Loyal Spirit.
The boat was one of a small fleet of a half dozen belonging to the maternal side of Seeu-Sung’s family which owned and operated an aqua-culture and river transportation business. The helms man, Jung-Wun, was a long time employee of the family, an emancipated slave freed by Seeu-Sung’s maternal grand parents, who chose to stay with the family.
Were they caught while still in the river, the entire family would have been summarily executed, including Jung-Wun himself, since Seeu-Sung’s father Wung-Sui, whose name means Great Emotion, was an MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) of the Republic of China government which had just been defeated by the Communists which had just established their People’s Republic of China. Even five-year-old Seeu-Sung would not have been spared, to eliminate all possibility of eventual revenge.
By dawn, they had emerged into the open sea. Jung-Wun turned the boat due east, and by early afternoon had docked it at an off-shore island of the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. On the beach under their new sun, Jung-Wun engaged Wung-Sui in a deep philosophical discussion the outcome of which would determine Seeu-Sung’s future life-path, which in turn made him the earthly instrument that he has become.
“Sir, I have a huge favor to ask,” said Jung-Wun to Wung-Sui, while they were sitting on a log near the dock, basking in the wintry afternoon sun.
“What is it, Jung-Wun?”
Jung-Wun extraced a thin book from his jacket, handed it double-handedly to Wung-Sui, and said, “This, sir, as you can see, is a copy of the Tao Teh Ching, the canon of Taoism, by Lao Tzu, 6th century BC. Would you please go to page 3, and read out the quatrain I have underscored?”
Wung-Sui glanced at Jung-Wun quizzically, then opened the book, and read, “‘In the Cosmos, Man accords his way to the Earth, the Earth accords its way to the Sky, the sky accords its way to the Tao – the Way of the Cosmos – and the Tao simply is, according to its own nature.'”
“Yes, then, what according to this is the Optimal Way of Man?”
“The Optimal Way of Man? Ha, wouldn’t that be nice to know. Well, according to this progression, I would think that it would be the Tao itself. Indeed, it would seem that if we know the nature of the Tao, and live accordingly, the world would be at peace.”
“Exactly, sir. Now, if you will read the very first sentence of the book please.”
Wung-Sui flipped back to Page 1, and read, “It says, ‘The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao.‘” A slight frown crept in between his eye-brows, and he added, “So, the Optimal Way of Man cannot be known?”
“Apparently. One of Lao Tzu’s disciples even wrote, ‘If one asks about the nature of the Tao and another answers, neither know it.'”
Wung-Sui exhaled into a sarcastic sigh. “So, I guess the Taoists throughout history have maintained a certain silence, as if they knew it? This explains why Taoism has degenerated from a school of high philosophical into its contemporary form which resembles more a house of sorcery.”
“Unless the Inconceivable is conceived, and the Unspeakable spoken.”
“I believe that he is destined for this task.”
“Are you saying that all the Chinese scholars throughout history have failed in something in which my little boy will succeed?”
“By using something not available to Ancient Chinese philosophers.”
“Tell me, sir, to what does the Tao itself accord?”
“‘The Tao simply is, according to Its own nature.”
“And what is the study of Nature? The nature of anything? Of All Things?”
“Yes, I see what you’re saying. It is indeed science.’
“I would say Omni-Science, ‘omni’ meaning ‘all in one’, since the Cosmos is everything, and All-Things comprise the Cosmos, and the Way of the Cosmos is the Tao, which filters down to the Optimal Way of Man.”
“So, you are suggesting that Seeu-Sung should study all fields of science, then conceive the Inconceivable, and speak the Unspeakable to all Mankind?”
“In a nutshell, yes sir.”
“Why him? Why now?”
“Because he is a smart kid, and you, sir, are the only father in this whole world who would lend me a serious hearing. Why now? I predict that by the time he is ready to speak the Tao, the world will be more than ready to hear it. And Humanity will be in dire need to hear it.”
“Very interesting, Jung-Wun. I’ll keep this in mind,” said Wung-Sui, somewhat offhandedly.
“Thank you, sir. Please, please, do.”
They lapsed into silence, watching Seeu-Sung build his sand castle in the setting sun.
Jung-Wun stood up and stretched, and said to Wung-Sui, “Well, time for me to head back to the homeland.”
“Look, Jung-Wun, I’m asking you again. Stay with us in Hong Kong.”
“Again I thank you, sir, but no. I’m too old to start adopting to another culture and another system, and too proud to be ruled by a foreign power, albeit the relatively humane British. China is where I belong.”
Wung-Sui deliberated briefly before saying, “You know the name and address of my friend in Kowloon. If the Communists capture you and interrogate you, they might eventually find us.”
A tragic shadow passed Jung-Wun’s face, before he said, as tragically, “I see. But let me assure you, this will never happen.”
“You’ll never know when you might break until you’re been broken. They have their way to break you, you know very well.”
“No worries, sir. I will give you a definite proof that it will never happen.”
With this, Jung-Wun went to bid farewell to the other family members. He saved Seeu-Sung till last. He took the child into his arms, embraced him prolongedly, then, holding him at arm’s length, said to him, “You be a good son at home and a good student at school, you hear?”
Seeu-Sung burst into tears.
They stood on the beach, while the fishing junk sailed into the sunset, but soon, it began to list, and before long, it had sunken beneath the waves.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)