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Reply Tue 7 Apr, 2009 01:53 pm
If the way that can be named is not the way, why do you call it Taosim?
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Tue 7 Apr, 2009 05:41 pm
@Dave Allen,
because "The Unamable Thing That Connot Be Named BEcause of Its Nebulous Nature-ism" was a bit too long
 
LWSleeth
 
Reply Tue 7 Apr, 2009 05:55 pm
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;57105 wrote:
If the way that can be named is not the way, why do you call it Taosim?


The statement "the way that can be named is not the way" can be seen as a warning right off the bat to not think the concept of the Way is the Way itself. In other words, this "way" being named is not the Way that is eventually realized.

The Way isn't a conceptual experience (nor, therefore, verbal). Human beings intellectualize everything, but the Way, just like the Zen experience or direct knowledge of YHWH, is a totally different variety of conscious experience.

But to answer your apparent question of why put a name to it, to get to that point where one understands how and what to feel, concepts are required to attract students and for teaching. How would it be to ask for instruction in how to learn the Way, and the teacher could only look at you? The teacher might no longer require words to know, but you as a student need concepts and words to cross the bridge from your determination to see everything mentally to this new type of conscious experience.
 
neapolitan
 
Reply Tue 7 Apr, 2009 08:45 pm
@LWSleeth,
What is the difference in meaning of "the way" in Christianity to Toaism?

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Jesus says He is "the way" to God the Father, so to understand "the way" in Christianity one must understand who Jesus Christ is.

So in Taoism what is "the way?" what does it mean? where does it lead?
 
nameless
 
Reply Wed 8 Apr, 2009 01:51 am
@Dave Allen,
What Taoists Believe - Beliefnet.com


A 2,500-plus-year-old spiritual practice, Taoism (not unlike Zen) is like a "finger pointing at the moon." That is, Taoism states that words are just a sign to point to the nonconceptual ultimate reality. It is of value to not obsess over the conceptual pointer but to see the ultimate reality clearly.

The main texts of Taoism are the "Tao-te Ching" (The Book of the Way and Its Power) by Lao Tzu and "Inner Chapters" by Chuang Tzu. What follows focuses on the so-called Philosophical-Spiritual Taoism. An indigenous tradition that incorporates more divination and alchemy also exists.

• Belief in Deity
The supreme being/ultimate truth is beyond words or any conceptual understanding. When asked to name it, it is referred to as Tao or the Way. The Power of the Way is referred to as Te. Although Tao and Te are similar to other practices' ideas of God, Taoists seldom refer to God.

• Incarnations
Taoism does not refer to any specific incarnation of God.

• Origin of Universe and Life
All matter is a manifestation of the Ultimate Reality. Generally, Taoist beliefs don't find modern scientific discoveries contradictory to Taoist thought; hence Fritjof Capra's "The Tao of Physics" is aptly named.

• After Death
Death has no particular meaning to Taoists.

• Why Evil?
To understand the Taoist notion of good and evil, it is important to distinguish between the "concept" of evil versus the "reality" of evil.

As a concept, Taoist do not hold the position of good against evil; rather they see the interdependence of all dualities. So when one labels something as a good, one automatically creates evil. That is, all concepts necessarily are based on one aspect vs. another; if a concept were to have only one aspect, it would be nonsensical.

The reality of good and evil is that all actions contain some aspect of each. This is represented in the t'ai chi, more commonly referred to as the yin-yang symbol. Any action would have some negative (yin) and some positive (yang) aspect to it. Taoists believe that nature is a continual balance between yin and yang, and that any attempt to go toward one extreme or the other will be ineffective, self-defeating, and short-lived. When people interfere with the natural balance by trying to impose their egoistic plans, they will not succeed; rather, the non-egoistic person allows nature to unfold, watching it ebb and flow from good to bad and back again.

Another way of understanding this is that the sage person understands the reality of good and evil, whereas the fool concentrates on the concept of good and evil. The sage knows that any evil will soon be replaced by good, the fool is forever fruitlessly trying to eliminate evil. Similar to the Buddhist concept of Sunyata ("the void"), good and evil are just empty conceptual abstractions that have no permanent independent existence.

• Salvation
Taoism is not a salvific practice. There is nothing that one needs to be saved from, and belief in salvation would lead to belief in damnation in the same manner as belief in good leads to belief in evil. Although they do not accept the false duality of salvation vs. damnation, living simply in harmony with Te and Tao, and not excessively pursuing material wealth, stature, or prestige, will lead to a joyful life.

• Contemporary Issues
Positions on abortion, homosexuality, divorce, nonviolence, and social-betterment programs are not unambiguously stated in the ancient texts. One might be able to derive a stance on these issues, but any such stance would be attenuated by the recognition that any stance is just a conceptual abstraction that has little usefulness.

Taoism would see expressing traditionally male and female roles as being in harmony. In some sects of Taoism, spiritual healing is practiced. Protecting nature is favored, though not by laws or injunction.
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 8 Apr, 2009 07:19 am
@nameless,
Thanks nameless ..i have read this years ago and i feel i might be becoming a Taoist without realising it..Funny how peoples thoughts can be repeated over and over again through certain logical conclusions.Harmony is balance and an acceptance of what is.If you look at a picture you might see the artist.When i have these thoughts i recognise Taoism in them..You cant imagine the creator so how can you name him..
 
nameless
 
Reply Wed 8 Apr, 2009 12:37 pm
@xris,
xris;57163 wrote:
Thanks nameless ..i have read this years ago and i feel i might be becoming a Taoist without realising it..

You're welcome. Taoism, as offered, certainly 'resonates'...

Quote:
Harmony is balance and an acceptance of what is.If you look at a picture you might see the artist.When i have these thoughts i recognise Taoism in them..

Understood.

Quote:
You cant imagine the creator so how can you name him..

We name all sorts of 'unimaginable' stuff; infinity, eternity, Consciousness, Allah, Tao, void... 'names' are metaphor (all existence can be seen as 'metaphor'), conveniences of communication, etc...
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 8 Apr, 2009 12:41 pm
@nameless,
Those named are imagined , i cant imagine and it appears nor can Taoists so we dont give it a name..Its a bit like naming a child before its conceived.
 
nameless
 
Reply Wed 8 Apr, 2009 01:15 pm
@xris,
xris;57231 wrote:
Its a bit like naming a child before its conceived.

Many do exactly that.
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 8 Apr, 2009 01:31 pm
@nameless,
nameless wrote:
Many do exactly that.
Boy named Sue..ah thats why..
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Wed 8 Apr, 2009 01:47 pm
@Dave Allen,
I'm very interested with the view of the Taoist mindset written in Straw Dogs by John Grey:

This indigenous Chinese folk religion encompasses many traditions: a popular cult of magic and ritual and meditative and sexual practices used by yogis and alchemists in the pursuit of longevity or immortality. The best-known Taoist text, the Lao Tzu, has been read in Western countries as a manual for mystics and anarchists. In fact it is more of an anthology, a hybrid collection of cryptic verses in which the barriers between logic and poetry melt away and an amoral manual emerges of statecraft and personal survival in troubled times. The other great Taoist collection, the Chuang-Tzu, parts of which may actually derive from a philosopher-poet who lived in China in the 4th century BC, comes closer to being a mystical text. But the mystical vision it expresses is quite different from any found in Western countries, or in India.

Chuang-Tzu is as much a sceptic as a mystic. The sharp dichotomy between appearance and reality that is central in Buddhism is absent, and so is the attempt to transcend the illusions of everyday existence. Chuang-Tzu sees human life as a dream, but he does not seel to awaken from it. In a famous passage he writes of dreaming he was a butterfly, and not knowing on awakening whether he is a human being dreaming of being a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he is a human being.

Once upon a time, I, Chuang-Tzu, dreamt I was a butterfly, flitting around and enjoying myself. I had no idea I was Chuang-Tzu. Then suddenly I woke up and was Chuang-Tzu again. But I could not tell, had I been Chuang-Tzu dreaming I was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I was Chuang-Tzu? However, there must be some sort of difference between Chuang-Tzu and a butterfly! We call this the transformation of things.

Unlike the Buddha, AC Graham explains, Chuang-Tzu did not seek to awaken from the dream. He dreamt of dreaming more lucidly: "Buddhists awaken out of dreaming; Chuang-Tzu wakes up to dreaming." Awakening to the truth that life is a dream need not mean turning away from it. It may mean embracing it:

If 'life is a dream' implies no achievement is lasting, it also implies that life can be charged with the wonder of dreams, that we drift spontaneously through events that follow a logic different to that of everyday intelligence, that fears and regrets are as unreal as hopes and desires.

Chuang-Tzu admits no idea of salvation. There is no self and no awakening from the dream of self.

When we dream we do not know we are dreaming, and in the middle of a dream we interpret a dream within it; not until we wake do we know that we were dreaming. Only at the ultimate awakening shall we know that this is the ultimate dream.

We cannot be rid of illusions. Illusion is our natural condition. Why not accept it?

The Taoists saw no gap between is and ought. Right action was whatever comes from a clear view of the situation. They did not follow moralists - in their day, Confucians - in wanting to fetter human beings with rules or principles. For Taoists the good life is only the natural life lived skilfully. It has no particular purpose. It has nothing to do with the will, and it does not consist in trying to realise any ideal. Everything we do can be done more or less well; but if we act well it is not because we mandate our intentions into deeds. It is because we deal skilfully with whatever needs to be done. The good life means living according to our natures and circumstances. There is nothing that says that it is bound to be the same for everybody, or that it must conform with 'morality'.

In Taoist thought, the good life comes spontaneously; but spontaneity is far from simply acting on the impulses that occur to us. In western traditions such as romanticism, spontaneity is linked with subjectivity. In Taoism it means acting dispassionately, on the basis of an objective view of the situation at hand. The common man cannot see things objectively, because his mind is clouded by anxiety about achieving his goals. Seeing clearly does not mean projecting our goals into the world; acting spontaneously means acting according to the needs of the situation. Western moralists will ask what is the purpose of such action, but for Taoists the good life has no purpose. It is like swimming in a whirlpool, responding to the come and go. 'I enter with the inflow, and emerge with the outflow, follow the Way of the water, and do not impose my selfishness upon it. This is how I stay afloat in it,' says Chuang-Tzu.

In this view, ethics is simply a practical skill, like fishing or swimming. The core of ethics is not choice or conscious awareness, but the knack of knowing what to do.
 
xris
 
Reply Wed 8 Apr, 2009 02:03 pm
@Dave Allen,
what did i hear recently ..dreaming is the time we can be mad and get away with it..If we responded in our waking hours with as much honesty we would be deemed immoral and self obsessed....I do good for pleasure and i love because it pleases me..I find these reflected in Taoism, its insight into human nature, amazing.
 
Tramontana
 
Reply Wed 8 Apr, 2009 02:07 pm
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;57105 wrote:
If the way that can be named is not the way, why do you call it Taosim?


Because we must have some concepts.And then we have to overcome it and see it's nature without naming it.And concepts are good for disciples.
And something more - don't forget that this is translation.Maybe double translation.
And about naming - we can meet it around the world in differrent religious systems.Have you heard about Apophatic theology(Via Negativa)? And in spite of that we have "name(s) of God".Concept.Finger pointing at the moon.
And...i'm not taoist.Just want to help.

---------- Post added at 12:19 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:07 AM ----------

Dave Allen;57264 wrote:

The Taoists saw no gap between is and ought. Right action was whatever comes from a clear view of the situation. They did not follow moralists – in their day, Confucians – in wanting to fetter human beings with rules or principles. For Taoists the good life is only the natural life lived skilfully. It has no particular purpose. It has nothing to do with the will, and it does not consist in trying to realise any ideal. Everything we do can be done more or less well; but if we act well it is not because we mandate our intentions into deeds. It is because we deal skilfully with whatever needs to be done. The good life means living according to our natures and circumstances. There is nothing that says that it is bound to be the same for everybody, or that it must conform with ‘morality’.

In Taoist thought, the good life comes spontaneously; but spontaneity is far from simply acting on the impulses that occur to us. In western traditions such as romanticism, spontaneity is linked with subjectivity. In Taoism it means acting dispassionately, on the basis of an objective view of the situation at hand. The common man cannot see things objectively, because his mind is clouded by anxiety about achieving his goals. Seeing clearly does not mean projecting our goals into the world; acting spontaneously means acting according to the needs of the situation. Western moralists will ask what is the purpose of such action, but for Taoists the good life has no purpose. It is like swimming in a whirlpool, responding to the come and go. ‘I enter with the inflow, and emerge with the outflow, follow the Way of the water, and do not impose my selfishness upon it. This is how I stay afloat in it,’ says Chuang-Tzu.

In this view, ethics is simply a practical skill, like fishing or swimming. The core of ethics is not choice or conscious awareness, but the knack of knowing what to do.


Wu wei? The literal meaning of wu wei is "without action". It is often expressed by the paradox wei wu wei, meaning "action without action" or "effortless doing".

Dave Allen;57264 wrote:
‘I enter with the inflow, and emerge with the outflow, follow the Way of the water, and do not impose my selfishness upon it. This is how I stay afloat in it,’ says Chuang-Tzu.


In ancient Taoist texts, wu wei is associated with water through its yielding nature.Water is soft and weak, but it can carve stone. Taoist philosophy proposes that the universe works harmoniously according to its own ways. Man must place his will in harmony with the natural universe.
 
xris
 
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 03:27 am
@Tramontana,
Thanks for that insight Tramonta..very interesting.

---------- Post added at 04:40 AM ---------- Previous post was at 04:27 AM ----------

Tramontana..am i right in thinking that the Christians who followed this philosophy apophatic are not quite the same in there approach to an unknown god as the Taoists.Christians have accepted a known god but cannot know him, they accept his presence but feel humans are incapable of understanding him totally.Taoists believe you cant even start to name him or even conceive of a creator let alone understand him..Am i correct?
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 04:26 am
@Tramontana,
Tramontana wrote:
Because we must have some concepts.And then we have to overcome it and see it's nature without naming it.And concepts are good for disciples.
And something more - don't forget that this is translation.Maybe double translation.
And about naming - we can meet it around the world in differrent religious systems.Have you heard about Apophatic theology(Via Negativa)? And in spite of that we have "name(s) of God".Concept.Finger pointing at the moon.
And...i'm not taoist.Just want to help.
Ta, though I wasn't looking for "we need a label for the concept" type truisms as hearing from those who might label themselves Taoist as to why they do so bearing in mind this important (it seems to me) lesson.

And I'm not looking to be some Taoist fundamentalist on the issue really, I just thought it was an interesting distraction from the Intelligent Design thread and a chance to talk more about a thought system that is more interesting to me than the Christianity/anti-Christianity that gets a lot of airtime here. It's not that I'm not interested in those debates - but it does seem to me that other belief systems receive little examination.

Which is a shame in Taoism's case, because it seems rather philosophically robust in comparison to the Abramic Monotheisms.

Quote:
Wu wei? The literal meaning of wu wei is "without action". It is often expressed by the paradox wei wu wei, meaning "action without action" or "effortless doing".


Yes, it seems a nice enough metaphore. But to try and take from the lesson regarding naming - if the concept is understood why use a foreign term to describe it?

Tradition?

Quote:
In ancient Taoist texts, wu wei is associated with water through its yielding nature.Water is soft and weak, but it can carve stone. Taoist philosophy proposes that the universe works harmoniously according to its own ways. Man must place his will in harmony with the natural universe.


On the contrary, man 'must' not do anything - the act of willing something contrary to his nature would mean the man is struggling against his nature. It is in the nature of humans to be rapacious - more so than other species by the looks of things.

---------- Post added at 05:30 AM ---------- Previous post was at 05:26 AM ----------

xris wrote:
Tramontana..am i right in thinking that the Christians who followed this philosophy apophatic are not quite the same in there approach to an unknown god as the Taoists.Christians have accepted a known god but cannot know him, they accept his presence but feel humans are incapable of understanding him totally.Taoists believe you cant even start to name him or even conceive of a creator let alone understand him..Am i correct?
A pure guess, but I suspect you are right. The motivating forces of the universe would be abstracted to a greater degree by Taoists, I think, and the spirit of Taoism might be in line with not bothering to even conjecture on what it could be.

Whereas I think most religions like Greek or Norse Paganism, or Christianity, tend to give human features to their concepts of universal and/or primeval forces.

Is your space bar broken?
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 05:20 am
@Dave Allen,
It is mainly a comment on the limitations of the 'naming mind'. We need to converse, to converse we use names and language, however there is a realm of awareness beyond, or beneath, that realm, with which sages are familiar. That's what makes 'em sages.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 05:56 am
@jeeprs,
jeeprs wrote:
It is mainly a comment on the limitations of the 'naming mind'. We need to converse, to converse we use names and language, however there is a realm of awareness beyond, or beneath, that realm, with which sages are familiar. That's what makes 'em sages.
I think you are right, but I also think it's a useful warning about attempting to define the ineffable or the transcendant.

One of the things about monotheisms that strikes me as naive is the habit of answering questions that the Taoist wouldn't bother to ask.

In light of later discoveries, or moral querying, or of unfulfilled prophecy such answers look suspicious. The Taoist avoids such pitfalls by merely stating that things are 'just so'.
 
Tramontana
 
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 06:30 am
@Dave Allen,
Quote:
Which is a shame in Taoism's case, because it seems rather philosophically robust in comparison to the Abramic Monotheisms.

Maybe it "seems".I think you're right that Taoism is philosophycally robust.Yes.But i don't think that Abramic Monotheism isn't philosphically robust...It's very interesting too.Theology,mysticism and so on.Many people don't see it because of illiterate abramic monotheists.
But i agree fully that other belief systems receive little examination and it's good to consider something else than Christianity and its middle east family.
Ok. So...
Quote:
Yes, it seems a nice enough metaphore. But to try and take from the lesson regarding naming - if the concept is understood why use a foreign term to describe it?

Tradition?

Just respect for original language of tradition and attempt to understand the roots of philosophy of Taoism.I wrote it just to clarify that there is a concept in Taoism that have specific name.
And if we consider Taoism as religion - yes,tradition.
Quote:
On the contrary, man 'must' not do anything - the act of willing something contrary to his nature would mean the man is struggling against his nature. It is in the nature of humans to be rapacious - more so than other species by the looks of things.

Yes,you're right.
"Must" here is not about struggling against nature,but to flow naturally."Must" means natural necessity,inevitability.I mean that here we can find two senses already.It's just my pseudo-heideggerian efforts. Smile
So don't get me wrong,i think we understand each other.
Quote:
Thanks for that insight Tramonta..very interesting.

Tramontana..am i right in thinking that the Christians who followed this philosophy apophatic are not quite the same in there approach to an unknown god as the Taoists.Christians have accepted a known god but cannot know him, they accept his presence but feel humans are incapable of understanding him totally.Taoists believe you cant even start to name him or even conceive of a creator let alone understand him..Am i correct?

You are welcome. Smile
I think you're quite correct...but let me think about it for a while.Comparison is interesting thing.

And by the way when i wrote "concept" i have meant something like Plato's Ideas(Eidos).It's something that help us to understand.Maybe it's not orthodox interpretation of Plato,but here i follow soviet philosopher Merab Mamardashvili.
 
Dave Allen
 
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 07:12 am
@Tramontana,
Tramontana wrote:
Maybe it "seems".I think you're right that Taoism is philosophycally robust.Yes.But i don't think that Abramic Monotheism isn't philosphically robust...It's very interesting too.


I find it supremely interesting - yes - in terms of a storytelling tradition, but I don't find stories philosophically robust just because they are decent yarns (I don't think you do either, by the way). The view of the world as expressed by Norse Pagans strikes me as an exciting story - but I do not see it as having much intellectual rigour aside from what we get from stories (all sorts of things, I conceed). Can I prove thunder is not caused by Thor's hammer? Not practically to my current understanding. However I think there are better reasons for thunder than the story of Thor.

So I don't find this particular religious story philosophically robust - though I do think it is interesting.

In the same manner I find a lot of stories from the Koran or the Bible very interesting, but I don't think there is an awful lot of truth to them. They might be a little more credible and less folksy than the Norse beliefs - but stories such as Noah's Ark or the miracles of Jesus likewise jar with what we know of mundane reality.

That's OK - but in comparison to the Taoist approach they simply aren't rigorous - it's a statement of relativity.

When asjed if his admiration of Taoism constituted a body of spiritual belief for him John Gray said:

'I don't believe in belief. I'm not being flippant. If one aims simply to see, as I put it at the end of the book, then beliefs - especially spiritual beliefs - are just an encumbrance. Best to have none, if you can manage it.'

Which I quite approve of - but of all mystical teachings Taoism seems to support this notion the most, it even seems to encourage it. If it encumbers, then it is a relatively light encumbering than other traditions. It may even help individuals become unencumbered because it is so accepting of things as they seem.

Perhaps the reason it gets so little attention in debates that a logical end of the thought processes is to simply let things be - whereas more rigid belief systems feel the need to assert their values?

Quote:
So don't get me wrong,i think we understand each other..

Yes I think so, I certainly view these exchanges as illuminating rather than argumentative.
 
Tramontana
 
Reply Thu 9 Apr, 2009 07:56 am
@Dave Allen,
Dave Allen;57386 wrote:
I find it supremely interesting - yes - in terms of a storytelling tradition, but I don't find stories philosophically robust just because they are decent yarns (I don't think you do either, by the way). The view of the world as expressed by Norse Pagans strikes me as an exciting story - but I do not see it as having much intellectual rigour aside from what we get from stories (all sorts of things, I conceed). Can I prove thunder is not caused by Thor's hammer? Not practically to my current understanding. However I think there are better reasons for thunder than the story of Thor.

So I don't find this particular religious story philosophically robust - though I do think it is interesting.

In the same manner I find a lot of stories from the Koran or the Bible very interesting, but I don't think there is an awful lot of truth to them. They might be a little more credible and less folksy than the Norse beliefs - but stories such as Noah's Ark or the miracles of Jesus likewise jar with what we know of mundane reality.

That's OK - but in comparison to the Taoist approach they simply aren't rigorous - it's a statement of relativity.

When asjed if his admiration of Taoism constituted a body of spiritual belief for him John Gray said:

'I don't believe in belief. I'm not being flippant. If one aims simply to see, as I put it at the end of the book, then beliefs - especially spiritual beliefs - are just an encumbrance. Best to have none, if you can manage it.'

Which I quite approve of - but of all mystical teachings Taoism seems to support this notion the most, it even seems to encourage it. If it encumbers, then it is a relatively light encumbering than other traditions. It may even help individuals become unencumbered because it is so accepting of things as they seem.


I think that some of this stories are parable.Is the parable philosphically robust? I think yes,but i see waht you mean. "Encumbering"...yes i agree with you that Taoism is a relatively light encumbering than other traditions.И
By the way folk religious taoism isn't so light encumbering as far as i know.


Dave Allen;57386 wrote:

Perhaps the reason it gets so little attention in debates that a logical end of the thought processes is to simply let things be - whereas more rigid belief systems feel the need to assert their values?


Yes.I think Abramic traditions value words more than Taoism and other eastern traditions.Maybe this huge holy books full of words of god and missionary work dispose to it.
 
 

 
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