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Author Topic: MasterMischief Explores Taoism  (Read 14498 times)

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Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #25 on: July 11, 2010, 04:24:38 PM »

Sounds rather Buddhist to me.  I do not mean that as a slight.  I am interested in Buddhism as well as some of it speaks to me.

Anyone else think of Tommy Boy where Tommy asks for the chicken nuggets and Richard is like, why don't you do that when you are trying to sell parts?

This is why Taoism interests me.  I have experienced when things just work out when I do not 'try too hard'.

But...surely, some desire is 'good' or, maybe a better term, useful?  I desire to be a good father.  Does that mean I can never be a good father?  Or is it more that, I should not 'try to hard' and learn to 'just be' a good father?

Offline Oniya

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Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #26 on: July 11, 2010, 04:29:01 PM »
I'm not entirely sure that 'without' is being used in the sense of 'lacking', and might instead be used as an opposite to 'within'.  If your desire to be a good father is always completely internalized, then all you're going to have is wishing.  If, instead, it extends outside of you, then you'll have the entirety of 'being a good father' to experience.

Of course, this could be linguistic gymnastics.

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #27 on: July 11, 2010, 04:30:51 PM »
That is a very interesting interpretation.  Desire without action will always merely remain desire.

I must think on this more.  Thank you.

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #28 on: July 16, 2010, 09:22:16 PM »
I am reading the Essential Chaung Tzu, and I am completely lost.

Pity the llama?

Offline LordGuan

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #29 on: July 18, 2010, 04:08:05 PM »

It is also notable that putting the terms good and bad (or evil) into play re: Taoism is usually unproductive. Right and wrong are more productive. And neither Yin nor Yang corresponds to good nor bad. Things that are right and in accordance with the Tao are balanced in their yin and yang. Things that are wrong are unbalanced.

I daresay the extent of this idea throughout chinese philosophy goes even further than this. Not only are wrong things unbalanced, but anything that is unbalanced is horribly wrong. The concept of balance was at the core of china's government for six thousand years, for the emperors held power based on the idea that only they were mandated by the gods to  hold the world in balance. As long as that balance was maintained, they were unchallenged, but when things started to get out of control it meant the end of a dynasty and a start of a new one.


Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #30 on: July 26, 2010, 09:37:23 PM »
I am about to stomp on a lot of toes here. 

Tao is. 

That is the problem you are trying to deal with.  The descriptions, the words, the comments, the explanations, they do not really solve or mean anything.  They're just descriptions and words and comments and explanations.  Questioning yourself is perfectly acceptable, as is questioning your methods.  What you feel and do is as much a part of tao as you are, regardless of how you feel about them or about yourself.  Meaning is for philosophers and teachers and students. 

Practicing what you believe is practice, it isn't actually achieving.  Achieving is also pointless.  What you need and want are not what you think they are, they're only symptoms of where you stand in the tao, not troubles or blocks placed in your path to be overcome.  They are a disease, a dis-ease.  And all dis-ease can be treated with the right application of the cures that they demand.  Once you have accepted the dis-ease and identified it, you can then deal with it properly, and move on to whatever else needs doing. 

Good and evil, right and wrong, balance, imbalance, all these are words used to define things.  Defining something is only a step, and it is a step in the direction of treating the symptom of dis-ease.  Meditating on these things does not solve the dis-ease, it serves only to help identify the cures and formulate a plan of action.  When you have progressed with the tao, you persist in a state of clear minded awareness without needing to resort to meditation and thought.  You feel the dis-ease, and then solve the dis-ease and then can move on to the next thing.

The idea that you are on a path leading to some form of enlightenment or success is ridiculous, because there is no path.  You are moving because you will always move, and how you move is what you are learning to do.  Movement and stillness are the same thing from differing perspectives.  You learn perspectives by meditating on things, and this leads to some measure of understanding.  Understanding only matters insofar as it does not lead you into the way of believing these are stumbling blocks, important, good things, lessons, traps, troubles, or other objects.  They are dis-ease,  and dis-ease is simply a way of saying 'I am uncomfortable and should do something about it'.  When you have done what you have decided to do, then you can move on. 

The simplest way to put it, is this:

Do what you feel and believe is proper, and take the responsibility for having done so without regret. 

There is the potential for greatness in all directions by such a philosophy, but the tao does not judge.  It is and nothing more.  You must understand the tao you are in because only through that understanding can you act or not act as appropriate to you.  The tao is not one thing, not many things.  It is, as you are, and you are in it as it is in you.  You cannot gain true understanding of the tao from others, because they are in the tao as you are, but they are not you.  Only you are you, and only you can understand your place in the tao, because your tao is where you are.

What was your question again?

>Edited for one minor grammatical, but fairly important little letter missing.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2010, 09:32:29 AM by Mnemaxa »

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #31 on: July 26, 2010, 10:11:14 PM »
I am reading the Essential Chaung Tzu, and I am completely lost.

Pity the llama?

Avoid translations of Chinese text if you can, unless they are VERY basic.  You'll miss a lot of the symbolism and the references because the translations don't actually exist in English and unless you've taken a lot of courses in Chinese history and writing.

Simplify. 

Get Deng Meng Dao's  (not tao, but Dao) books, 365 Tao and Everyday Tao (the second is especially useful).  You don't need to delve into complexity for greater understanding.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #32 on: July 26, 2010, 11:18:26 PM »
Hey Max - any opinions on 'The Tao of Pooh' and 'The De of Piglet'?  I remember seeing these on a friend's shelf, but didn't have the opportunity to page through them.

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #33 on: July 26, 2010, 11:58:45 PM »
Hey Max - any opinions on 'The Tao of Pooh' and 'The De of Piglet'?  I remember seeing these on a friend's shelf, but didn't have the opportunity to page through them.

I heartily recommend both.  I like them because they are admitted by the author to be 'personal interpretations' right from the start, and thus YMMV.  But the basics are always the best place to start and end.

To expound on them, they're not your traditional sort of teaching tools.  they're a very basic breakdown of how these two lovable, sweet characters actually fit into the tao - or rather, how the tao fits into them?  In either case, the characters themselves have their say int he books, and it quickly becomes very easy to see why the author chose these two characters; there is no more simple, straightforward sort of fellow than Pooh Bear, while the character of Piglet is never in doubt or in disarray. 
« Last Edit: July 27, 2010, 10:35:02 AM by Mnemaxa »

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #34 on: July 27, 2010, 06:25:34 PM »
Hello, Mnemaxa.  Welcome to the fray.

Quote from: Mnemaxa
The idea that you are on a path leading to some form of enlightenment or success is ridiculous, because there is no path.

Quote from: Mnemaxa
You cannot gain true understanding of the tao from others, because they are in the tao as you are, but they are not you.

Quote from: Mnemaxa
Get Deng Meng Dao's  (not tao, but Dao) books, 365 Tao and Everyday Tao (the second is especially useful).

Somewhat joking and somewhat serious.  Why?

If there is no path and I can not learn from others, what exactly with the books provide?

Quote from: Mnemaxa
Do what you feel and believe is proper, and take the responsibility for having done so without regret.

I can do that most of the time.  Without regret tends to be the difficult part.  7 Habits of Highly Successful People helped me learn to not waste so much time and effort on things outside of my control.

Thanks for your replies.

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #35 on: July 28, 2010, 12:17:39 PM »
Those particular books give you one word in a single page.  A common word, and often a useful word.  The word is then explained in terms that lead to a better understanding of what you are striving for. 

They are not manuals.  They are not instruction books.  They are not explanations.  They are simply statements of, "this is how this word can be applied in respect to tao or those who study tao in various manners". 

As an example:
Positioning

Heron stands in the blue estuary,
Solitary, white, unmoving for hours.
A fish! Quick avian darting;
The prey is captured.

People always ask how to follow Tao. It is as easy and natural as the heron standing in the water. The bird moves when it must; it does not move when stillness is appropriate.

The secret of its serenity is a type of vigilance, a contemplative state. The heron is not in mere dumbness or sleep. It knows a lucid stillness. It stands unmoving in the flow of the water. It gazes unperturbed and is aware. When Tao brings it something that it needs, it seizes the opportunity without hesitation or deliberation. Then it goes back to its quiescence without disturbing itself or its surroundings. Unless it found the right position in the water's flow and remained patient, it would not have succeeded.

Actions in life can be reduced to two factors; positioning and timing. If we are not in the right place at the right time, we cannot possibly take advantage of what life has to offer us.

Almost anything is appropriate if an action is in accord with the time and place. But we must be vigilant and prepared. Even if the time and the place are right, we can still miss our chance if we do not notice the moment, if we act inadequately, or if we hamper ourselves with doubts and second thoughts.

When life presents an opportunity, we must be ready to seize it without hesitation or inhibition. Position is useless without awareness. If we have both, we make no mistakes.

Deng Ming-Dao


Nothing particularly profound or unusual in this.  It is simple, even basic; this is really nothing you didn't already know.  But the perspective of the explanation is different.  And when you apply the fundamentals to your own life, when you learn these very basic things and become aware of them, you progress.  Not along a path, or in a direction, but in the tao.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 12:22:38 PM by Mnemaxa »

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #36 on: July 30, 2010, 10:05:15 PM »
Position, timing and awareness.  I like that.  Thank you again, Mnemaxa.

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #37 on: July 31, 2010, 03:15:59 AM »
You are very welcome.

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #38 on: August 01, 2010, 02:48:36 PM »
I am still going to keep reading the Tao Te Ching.  I may not understand it.  I may not come to the same conclusions that were originally meant.  But I am finding useful wisdom.

And I like to over-analyze things.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #39 on: August 01, 2010, 03:31:06 PM »
Just leave your mind open to what the words can tell you - presuming that it's going to give you anything in particular will result in your mind trying to cram the words into that meaning.

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #40 on: August 01, 2010, 03:38:51 PM »
I am not sure I agree.  I believe I am usually a pretty fast learner.  I attribute that to not taking something just at face value.  Whenever I am presented with something new, I like to see how it can apply to other things in other contexts.

So as I read, something may give me a new perspective to apply to everything around me.  I guess that is trying to cram something into that meaning.  I just like new perspectives and a variety of ways to look at things.

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #41 on: August 14, 2010, 04:02:25 PM »

A few weeks back, I was thinking about something I had read.  I do not remember where now.  Anyway, it said that when athletes are 'in the zone', that is like Tao.  To get to that level, they have to practice...a lot.  That connected with someone else, here I believe, mentioning that you have to practice following the Tao.  That connected for me.  If that is it, it really is not action without action, it is efficient action.

But the key, at least for me, is that it does not just happen.  You have to put in the time and the effort to get there.  Of course, this presents me with a new problem.  How do I practice something I do not fully understand?

Does the development above mean practice or, the 'advancement' achieved through practice?  Further, as you 'develop', do you see things differently and thus give them different names?  'Action without action' becomes efficient action.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #42 on: August 14, 2010, 07:03:40 PM »
Most things that we practice, we don't fully understand.  We try them, we fail at them, we try them again.  Just like the football player, it takes time for us to learn the ins and outs of the 'plays' until they are second nature - but when it 'clicks', there's no mistaking it.

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #43 on: August 15, 2010, 11:06:25 AM »
That is a good point.  However, the football player has better direction, even if he does not fully understand how his role integrates with the rest of the team.  There are clear, defined objectives.

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #44 on: August 21, 2010, 08:40:39 AM »
That is a good point.  However, the football player has better direction, even if he does not fully understand how his role integrates with the rest of the team.  There are clear, defined objectives.

Again with words.

Seeking understanding IS the practice.  The practice ends when we understand.  The follower of tao understands that this is impossible to achieve in any lifetime, or any number of lifetimes.  What you CAN achieve is a current understanding of your current relation to tao and its current relation to you.  I am not being obtuse; it is simply that you try and grasp at meanings where there are none. 

A name is simply a description that we use to communicate with to others our conceptualized thoughts.  That is all a name is.  You notice, I am sure, that I do not capitalize the word 'tao'.  The reason is simple - all 'tao' means is 'the way'.  Saying 'Tao' is only putting emphasis on a name, which isn't actually tao.  Tao is tao.  When you stop worrying about what the tao is, what it means, and simply work at understanding where you are and what is going on around you, you stop considering the name, stop considering tao, and start practicing tao.  When you no longer need to practice being aware of yourself and what is happening around you and act in accordance to those happenings and your nature, you will have stepped into a larger world.

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #45 on: August 21, 2010, 08:56:53 AM »
Thank you again, Mnemaxa.  Once again, your post proves very insightful.

Stop focusing on 'tao'.  Stop focusing on some 'way'.  Start focusing on how I interact with the world around me.

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: Tao Te Ching
« Reply #46 on: September 04, 2010, 11:39:25 AM »
I found this taoist site.  I am skeptical about the I Ching mysticism, but found some good stuff in Tao Living.

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: MasterMischief Explores Taoism
« Reply #47 on: September 18, 2010, 01:41:47 PM »
After reading The Tao of Competition I found the following quote from Rex Hudler.

Be a fountain, not a drain.

I thought it very concise and, in my case, very true.  I realize how much energy I spend finding fault with others (or the Wii and Netflix).  I am trying to recognize the negativity I put out and either stop it or replace it with positivity.

It ain't easy.

Offline Mnemaxa

Re: MasterMischief Explores Taoism
« Reply #48 on: September 18, 2010, 06:37:53 PM »
After reading The Tao of Competition I found the following quote from Rex Hudler.

Be a fountain, not a drain.

I thought it very concise and, in my case, very true.  I realize how much energy I spend finding fault with others (or the Wii and Netflix).  I am trying to recognize the negativity I put out and either stop it or replace it with positivity.

It ain't easy.

A fountain only gives.  It cannot accept.  Without emptiness, there is no place for knowledge or anythign else to go.  Emptiness is as ,much a virtue as fullness - it is emptiness that makes containers useful, and it is fullness that makes them complete. 

Offline MasterMischiefTopic starter

Re: MasterMischief Explores Taoism
« Reply #49 on: September 19, 2010, 11:06:46 AM »
Thank you for that perspective.

I did not take 'being a fountain' as never accepting.  I see your point, but I did not go quite so literal.

For me, it is more about recognizing what I am putting into the universe.  Do I want it to be positive or negative, because what I put out comes back to me eventually.  I realize labeling something as 'positive' or 'negative' is falling into a bit of a trap.  If I call something beautiful, then I create ugliness.  Maybe, I am just not at that level yet where I can avoid discriminating.  Maybe, I am not at that level where I can avoid using words as a crutch.

I do realize I put a lot of what I would classify as negativity into the universe and it uses up a lot of energy that could be better spent.  So I am just trying to get a handle on that.