We walk past the church in Mombuey, on our way to Entrepeñas. We plan to spend the night in the Casa Rural El Cubo in Entrepeñas, 3 kilometers south of Asturianos.
The church bell tower in Mombuey has a special feature.
The tower is unusual in that it has a cow head emerging from it.
You would not notice the cow head unless you look closely.
We come to a small town — water is available by a chapel with a wire that, when pulled, would ring the bell. As with virtually all churches, the chapel door is locked. The population in these villages has declined and fewer people support religion in modern times.
We walk through the country-side and pass through another small village.
I read Chapter 75 of the Tao te Ching (translated by Steven Mitchell):
“When taxes are too high,
people go hungry.”
Many houses in the village have been abandoned. There are many villages like this. People have moved elsewhere, leaving their houses due to economic problems. They cannot find work in their village. The problem should not be attributed to high taxes or the government but to economic change. Small-scale farming does not allow a decent way of life.
Lao tsu writes, “When the government is too intrusive,
people lose their spirit.”
The Spanish Civil War did not contribute to economic progress in Spain — but I don’t think many people would say that government intrusion was the problem. This discussion does not pertain to the Inner Way.
I watch a butterfly.
Lao tsu’s poetry views government action as disruptive but he had no concept of the types of technological changes that affect modern people. Some people want to return to an era when there was less technology but their thinking is not logical. The butterfly cannot return to past times.
Even within nature, evolutionary change is inevitable. The environment selects which organism will survive. Among humans, wealth provides advantages and a government that does not protect poor people contributes to injustice.
I watch a blister beetle crawl rapidly through the brush. As with this beetle, government action is not the concern of most people. The beetle seeks food and a mate. It is not concerned with government.
Lao tsu writes: “Act for the people’s benefit.”
Any type of action will cause some to benefit more than others. Inaction will allow the rich to benefit at the expense of the poor.
We must remember that Lao tsu was writing during a time that preceded the emergence of Capitalism and complex modern societies. His text should not be regarded as political advice in modern situations.
I look out the window of our room in the Casa Rural El Cuco. I see well-kept houses and a car. I see the stone walls associated with farms that no longer exist.
Lao tsu writes: “Trust them; leave them alone.”
Spain has had Facist, Conservative, Liberal, and Socialist governments but many villages in northern Spain are almost empty of people.
The existence of small roads connecting these villages is a product of a cruel economy — the small roads are being replaced by highways. The present Camino for walking to Santiago is part of a modern economic system with people running Casa Rurals — seeking extra money.
Lao tsu’s text could be regarded as advocating anarchy or extreme political conservatism but he was actual focusing on a way of thinking that pertained to the inner self. His text is useful for pondering the Inner Way, a process that transcends material needs.
Simplicity, patience, compassion.