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Do you Tao?

SneezerSneezer Registered User
edited May 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
I am a Taoist, I meditate, read the Tao Te Ching (Dhow Day Jing) and Zhuangzhi and try to follow some of the teachings of Lao-Tzu and Zhuangzi. What i'm asking is when someone mentions Taoism, what do you think of? Ying-Yang, bunch O' monks or a crazy patch of people following a non-existant 'code'?

Sneezer on
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  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I heart Taoism. I studied it in depth for years in high school, and I fucking rocked my professors' worlds when I did World Religions and Eastern Philosophies in college.

    A good "Tao for Dummies" is The Tao of Pooh, even though it is a bit poppy.

    Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics is pretty awesome.

    As far as the Tao Te Ching goes, read as many translations as possible. Get your hands on a translation made by a Westerner who knows Chinese and one by a Chinese person who knows English. Get your hands on a translation made by a female. And so forth. Read them all and compare and think about it.

    In addition to the Masters you've mentioned, Ancestor Lü is totally tits.

    Wei Wu Wei would be my suggestion as the core concept to meditate on. Doing Without Doing. It manifests in many ways, one of the most basic being essentially "a stitch in time saves nine." Less is more, though it goes deeper than simply saying that.

    Wu Wei Wu is also the assumed name of a Taoist that I frequently quote in my sigs. He is the fucking man.

    Just remember that the Way Eternal has no name. If one man asks about the Tao and another answers, then neither of them know (yes, I fully realize that includes me as I am an answerer here). The Tao suffers from a sort of philospohical Heisenberg: to even attempt to put it into language necessarily cripples its truth.

  • taerictaeric Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    taeric wrote: »
    I've fallen in love with some of the writings in the Tao Te Ching, but I can't call myself a taoist, as I am not clear on what all that would entail.

    Congrats you're a Taoist then

    I'm a Taoist in the sense that I believe in the teachings surrounding what is called the Tao. However, I personally feel I am not on the correct tao. So, I don't consider myself a true Taoist. (Though, thinking of it, I suppose you don't have to be Christ to be a Christian.)


    Edit: The Tao of Pooh was a fun read. I've also picked up the Te of Piglet, though I've never gotten around to reading that one.

  • SneezerSneezer Registered User
    edited May 2007
    I personaly, am more inclined to read the Zhuangzhi, he's alot more straigtforward in his saying and doesn't talk about contradiction and paradox's (what is the plural of paradox?)

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  • NickleNickle Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Hooray, I'm not the only one! Everytime I try to bring up Taoism in a 'religious' discussion I get laughed at. Which would be understandable, considering I don't really think of it as a 'religion' persay, but I feel that those who dismiss the ideals presented by it seem a bit close-minded. I can respect the ideas that the bible represents, even if I don't believe it, or respect a few of it's more 'devout' followers.

    In any case, as mentioned above, 'The Tao of Pooh' and 'The Te of Piglet' are pretty decent introductions to Taoism, if a bit 'simplistic' (that's not the right word, considering the subject, but it's the best I have). Tao Te Ching, obviously, is one of the 'must reads'.

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  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Paradoxen? LAWL.

    Personally I find that a journey through Taoism needs a good long wrestle with quite a bit of paradox.

  • taerictaeric Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    Yar wrote: »
    Paradoxen? LAWL.

    Personally I find that a journey through Taoism needs a good long wrestle with quite a bit of paradox.

    I like this quote because it fits so well with an easy change. "Personally I find that a journey through life needs a good long wrestle with quite a bit of paradox." And I think that is what endears me to Taoism.

  • SneezerSneezer Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Yar wrote: »
    Paradoxen? LAWL.

    Personally I find that a journey through Taoism needs a good long wrestle with quite a bit of paradox.

    Surley a pardox in itself?

    One of my fav verses from the TTC
    Laozi wrote:
    Those who stand on tiptoe are unsteady.

    Those who take large strides, tire quickly.

    Those who think they know, never learn.

    Those who want to stand out, don't value others.

    Those who are self-important are never respected.

    These ways are like unnecessary baggage, or food left over after a feast.

    To the followers of Tao, they have no use


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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    I went through a short phase, and then realised its as flawed as any other religious book, its just more poetical. So I'm back to "there's some cool shit in most religious texts, interspersed between bouts of wtf". The Tao Te Ching has a better signal to noise ratio than most though, I''l give you that.

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  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2007
    I read the Tao Te Ching in college. Thought it sounded nice, but it wasn't especially helpful to me - there was a whole lot shrouded in poesy (though it could have been my translation), and what I could get out of it (elimination of all sentimentality?) seemed like it was probably kind of bad.

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  • taerictaeric Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    I went through a short phase, and then realised its as flawed as any other religious book, its just more poetical. So I'm back to "there's some cool shit in most religious texts, interspersed between bouts of wtf". The Tao Te Ching has a better signal to noise ratio than most though, I''l give you that.

    Out of genuine curiousity, what parts did you find flawed?

  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Ikepe getitgn confused on names cuz my Eastern Philosophy teacher uses the other romanization method

    Zhunagchi is Chuang Tzu correct?

    I read his stuff. He'd be a decent place to start. a little less cryptic and makes frequent use of analogies and humor ot get his point across.

    I also loved Lao Tzu

  • NickleNickle Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    I went through a short phase, and then realised its as flawed as any other religious book, its just more poetical. So I'm back to "there's some cool shit in most religious texts, interspersed between bouts of wtf". The Tao Te Ching has a better signal to noise ratio than most though, I''l give you that.

    That's pretty much where I'm at too. I don't really proscribe to any particular 'religion', I just try to recognize that there are good ideas presented by most every text, which unfortunately sometimes get overshadowed by the bad (Zealots, Fox News, etc).

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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    taeric wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    I went through a short phase, and then realised its as flawed as any other religious book, its just more poetical. So I'm back to "there's some cool shit in most religious texts, interspersed between bouts of wtf". The Tao Te Ching has a better signal to noise ratio than most though, I''l give you that.

    Out of genuine curiousity, what parts did you find flawed?

    The bits that veer into... I suppose you could call it overspecificity, I can't think of a better word. The bits that are clearly more strongly linked to cultural norms at the time of writing - a fair chunk of the instructions for ruling type stuff, and the gender-essentialism evident in a few other passages, basically.

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  • SneezerSneezer Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Ikepe getitgn confused on names cuz my Eastern Philosophy teacher uses the other romanization method

    Zhunagchi is Chuang Tzu correct?

    Correct.

    It is said that Zhuangzhi was Laozi's pupil, but no-one is sure.

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  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    I went through a short phase, and then realised its as flawed as any other religious book, its just more poetical. So I'm back to "there's some cool shit in most religious texts, interspersed between bouts of wtf". The Tao Te Ching has a better signal to noise ratio than most though, I''l give you that.

    Like I said Taoism is unique in that it acknowledges it's inherently flawed nature. So instead of the "This is the truth!" ideal it more of a "We've got a sense of something that hard to put into words" sensiblity.

  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Sneezer wrote: »
    Ikepe getitgn confused on names cuz my Eastern Philosophy teacher uses the other romanization method

    Zhunagchi is Chuang Tzu correct?

    Correct.

    It is said that Zhuangzhi was Laozi's pupil, but no-one is sure.

    It's also debatable if half these guys existed at all or wrote the stuff arttibuted to them ;)

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    I went through a short phase, and then realised its as flawed as any other religious book, its just more poetical. So I'm back to "there's some cool shit in most religious texts, interspersed between bouts of wtf". The Tao Te Ching has a better signal to noise ratio than most though, I''l give you that.

    Like I said Taoism is unique in that it acknowledges it's inherently flawed nature. So instead of the "This is the truth!" ideal it more of a "We've got a sense of something that hard to put into words" sensiblity.

    Yeah, well the bits that bother me are pretty much the bits where it obviously strays from that ideal in favour of spouting good old fashioned confucianism.

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  • RandomtaskRandomtask Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Sneezer wrote: »
    I am a Taoist, I meditate, read the Tao Te Ching (Dhow Day Jing) and Zhuangzhi and try to follow some of the teachings of Lao-Tzu and Zhuangzi. What i'm asking is when someone mentions Taoism, what do you think of? Ying-Yang, bunch O' monks or a crazy patch of people following a non-existant 'code'?

    Whenever people mention Taoism, I always want to burst out with "HAY, HAVE U SEEN THE TAO OF STEVE OMG LOLO!?!?!?!"

    Which sounds retarded, but it's SUCH a good movie about dating, and actually explains some interesting taoist principles.

    Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.
    - Soren Kierkegaard
  • RandomtaskRandomtask Registered User
    edited May 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    I went through a short phase, and then realised its as flawed as any other religious book, its just more poetical. So I'm back to "there's some cool shit in most religious texts, interspersed between bouts of wtf". The Tao Te Ching has a better signal to noise ratio than most though, I''l give you that.

    Like I said Taoism is unique in that it acknowledges it's inherently flawed nature. So instead of the "This is the truth!" ideal it more of a "We've got a sense of something that hard to put into words" sensiblity.

    Yeah, well the bits that bother me are pretty much the bits where it obviously strays from that ideal in favour of spouting good old fashioned confucianism.

    But the true taoist would just go "meh," and shrug those narsty bits off.

    Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.
    - Soren Kierkegaard
  • SneezerSneezer Registered User
    edited May 2007
    A perfect example of what tao is:

    Tao is [insert your own interpretation here]

    I find that this stops people trying to be all high and mighty about what they consider they know *see above post of mine)

    ..or alternativly, ignore me and all my posts about Taoism

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  • taerictaeric Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    taeric wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    I went through a short phase, and then realised its as flawed as any other religious book, its just more poetical. So I'm back to "there's some cool shit in most religious texts, interspersed between bouts of wtf". The Tao Te Ching has a better signal to noise ratio than most though, I''l give you that.

    Out of genuine curiousity, what parts did you find flawed?

    The bits that veer into... I suppose you could call it overspecificity, I can't think of a better word. The bits that are clearly more strongly linked to cultural norms at the time of writing - a fair chunk of the instructions for ruling type stuff, and the gender-essentialism evident in a few other passages, basically.

    I think I can understand some of that. (I must admit I had to look up "gender-essentialism." :( ) I'm not clear on what you mean by overspecificity, though. Any examples? (It has been so long since I've read the passages that I don't recall too much of the specifics, so if you'd rather leave it as an excercise for the reader, I'm cool with that.)

  • RandomtaskRandomtask Registered User
    edited May 2007
    Sneezer wrote: »
    A perfect example of what tao is:

    Tao is [insert your own interpretation here]

    I find that this stops people trying to be all high and mighty about what they consider they know *see above post of mine)

    ..or alternativly, ignore me and all my posts about Taoism

    Ouch. ;-;

    Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.
    - Soren Kierkegaard
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    taeric wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    taeric wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    I went through a short phase, and then realised its as flawed as any other religious book, its just more poetical. So I'm back to "there's some cool shit in most religious texts, interspersed between bouts of wtf". The Tao Te Ching has a better signal to noise ratio than most though, I''l give you that.

    Out of genuine curiousity, what parts did you find flawed?

    The bits that veer into... I suppose you could call it overspecificity, I can't think of a better word. The bits that are clearly more strongly linked to cultural norms at the time of writing - a fair chunk of the instructions for ruling type stuff, and the gender-essentialism evident in a few other passages, basically.

    I think I can understand some of that. (I must admit I had to look up "gender-essentialism." :( ) I'm not clear on what you mean by overspecificity, though. Any examples? (It has been so long since I've read the passages that I don't recall too much of the specifics, so if you'd rather leave it as an excercise for the reader, I'm cool with that.)

    It means "I didn't know what word to use" :P Basically the bits where it was clearly no longer about oneness/the way/whatever, and instead became "confucian concept #485".

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2007
    Sneezer wrote: »
    I am a Taoist, I meditate, read the Tao Te Ching (Dhow Day Jing) and Zhuangzhi and try to follow some of the teachings of Lao-Tzu and Zhuangzi. What i'm asking is when someone mentions Taoism, what do you think of? Ying-Yang, bunch O' monks or a crazy patch of people following a non-existant 'code'?

    I think taoism is a crock of you know what, based on going with the flow in the faith that the flow is inherently benevolent. Which I do not believe it to be.

  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Chuang Tzu spends half his book calling Confucius a tool.

  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Hey Cat I realize that you've already mastered the Tao and uncovered all of its wrongs and moved on to superior knowledge by now, but I'd like to suggest this study and translation by Ellen Chen.

    It's not like a "feminist" version or anything, Ellen Chen is one of the best teachers of Taoism anywhere. But it is a less man-focused interpretation. A lot of translations are written a long time ago or by Easterners, or both, which can tend to impart a little bit of "wimminz are subs" into the translation.
    Shinto wrote: »
    I think taoism is a crock of you know what, based on going with the flow in the faith that the flow is inherently benevolent. Which I do not believe it to be.
    Wounds! Also I think benevolent is not the right term there. The Way is neither Good nor Bad.

  • taerictaeric Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    It means "I didn't know what word to use" :P Basically the bits where it was clearly no longer about oneness/the way/whatever, and instead became "confucian concept #485".

    I'm not trying to get a better word, necessarily. Basically, I don't know enough about confucian concepts to know what you mean. So, I was wondering if you had an example or two. And again, I am fine if you are just saying, read some confucianism and see the similarities.


    I do agree largely with what Shinto said about not believing that there is some all powerful benevolent force. I liken this to "natural order," something I just can't bring myself to believe in.

  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2007
    Sneezer wrote: »
    Ikepe getitgn confused on names cuz my Eastern Philosophy teacher uses the other romanization method

    Zhunagchi is Chuang Tzu correct?

    Correct.

    It is said that Zhuangzhi was Laozi's pupil, but no-one is sure.

    "Tzu" is an honorific, right?

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  • nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    Yeah Tzu or Zi basically translates to "master"

  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2007
    Yar wrote: »
    Shinto wrote: »
    I think taoism is a crock of you know what, based on going with the flow in the faith that the flow is inherently benevolent. Which I do not believe it to be.
    Wounds! Also I think benevolent is not the right term there. The Way is neither Good nor Bad.

    Indeed, The Way tends to retreat into vague poetic contradictions whenever an objection is raised.

    It can apparently only exist in the space between and around thought.

    Empty of meaning
    It embraces all meaning
    Useful to the vaguely mystical mind
    In its formlessness
    As a bowl is useful
    Because of its emptiness

  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2007
    It does seem pretty resigned and fatalistic, which is actually a problem I have with a lot of Eastern mysticism.

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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    taeric wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    It means "I didn't know what word to use" :P Basically the bits where it was clearly no longer about oneness/the way/whatever, and instead became "confucian concept #485".

    I'm not trying to get a better word, necessarily. Basically, I don't know enough about confucian concepts to know what you mean. So, I was wondering if you had an example or two. And again, I am fine if you are just saying, read some confucianism and see the similarities.

    Ah, ok. Well, the advice-for-leaders stuff is often very similar to the advice given in the Analects - not exactly a bad thing, not like its crap advice (although it is a bit machiavellian :P), just jarring next to the other stuff. And the gender stuff I mentioned before is heavily based around yin/yang concepts central to confucian outlooks - although as Yar just linked, there are no doubt translations that are rather less pejorative. Still, its hard to avoid that 'wimmin are all doot doot doot, men are all deet deet deet' stuff even when you're being nice about it. I'll have a read anyway.

    I do agree largely with what Shinto said about not believing that there is some all powerful benevolent force. I liken this to "natural order," something I just can't bring myself to believe in.
    Interestingly, I never saw a conflict between the letting-yourself-flow concepts and the fact that nature isn't benevolent at all. Seems like if you really do follow the way, death/bad stuff isn't something to be always fought (or not fought, hee).

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  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Ah, ok. Well, the advice-for-leaders stuff is often very similar to the advice given in the Analects - not exactly a bad thing, not like its crap advice (although it is a bit machiavellian :P), just jarring next to the other stuff. And the gender stuff I mentioned before is heavily based around yin/yang concepts central to confucian outlooks - although as Yar just linked, there are no doubt translations that are rather less pejorative. Still, its hard to avoid that 'wimmin are all doot doot doot, men are all deet deet deet' stuff even when you're being nice about it. I'll have a read anyway.
    Women are all scornful of the tao. Men are all embracing of The Way.

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2007
    Irond Will wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    Ah, ok. Well, the advice-for-leaders stuff is often very similar to the advice given in the Analects - not exactly a bad thing, not like its crap advice (although it is a bit machiavellian :P), just jarring next to the other stuff. And the gender stuff I mentioned before is heavily based around yin/yang concepts central to confucian outlooks - although as Yar just linked, there are no doubt translations that are rather less pejorative. Still, its hard to avoid that 'wimmin are all doot doot doot, men are all deet deet deet' stuff even when you're being nice about it. I'll have a read anyway.
    Women are all scornful of the tao. Men are all embracing of The Way.

    And yet the valley spirit is humble and submissive, like a woman.

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    don't forget cold :P

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  • taerictaeric Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited May 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Ah, ok. Well, the advice-for-leaders stuff is often very similar to the advice given in the Analects - not exactly a bad thing, not like its crap advice (although it is a bit machiavellian :P), just jarring next to the other stuff. And the gender stuff I mentioned before is heavily based around yin/yang concepts central to confucian outlooks - although as Yar just linked, there are no doubt translations that are rather less pejorative. Still, its hard to avoid that 'wimmin are all doot doot doot, men are all deet deet deet' stuff even when you're being nice about it. I'll have a read anyway.

    I can understand and appreciate that. Though, oddly, I generally don't have a problem with masculine and feminine "traits." The thing that bothers me about this is that too many people take it to be that a male is complete once they embrace all of the masculine traits (And the same about women). The way I've always taken it, is that a person is complete once they have embraced both the masculine and the feminine traits.

    (looking back over this, it does seem the easiest way to get rid of that misconception would be to drop the labels masculine and feminine. So, I guess I do have a problem with them. :oops: )
    The Cat wrote: »
    Interestingly, I never saw a conflict between the letting-yourself-flow concepts and the fact that nature isn't benevolent at all. Seems like if you really do follow the way, death/bad stuff isn't something to be always fought (or not fought, hee).

    The problem I have with that is what is to be done when the way of the world does need to be changed?

  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2007
    I'm going to agree with The Cat and Yar on this one.

    Also, there's the insane... what is it... Tao mysticism? There's really two different Taoisms out there. One of them elevates Laozi to the level of a god or some shit, which is shit. The other, simpler Taoism is cooler by virtue of not being rabidly nutty.

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  • ShintoShinto __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2007
    Tao is usually divided into philosophical, mystical and folk religion branches that don't really have a lot to do with eachother.

  • Irond WillIrond Will Dragonmaster Cambridge. MASuper Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited May 2007
    I'm going to agree with The Cat and Yar on this one.

    Also, there's the insane... what is it... Tao mysticism? There's really two different Taoisms out there. One of them elevates Laozi to the level of a god or some shit, which is shit. The other, simpler Taoism is cooler by virtue of not being rabidly nutty.
    Dude rode away on a dragon. It's proof that he's a god!

    It seems like a lot of Asian religions have their "pure" philosophical forms and their more popular mystical forms that basically co-opted little local tribal mysticisms.

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  • OboroOboro __BANNED USERS
    edited May 2007
    taeric wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    Interestingly, I never saw a conflict between the letting-yourself-flow concepts and the fact that nature isn't benevolent at all. Seems like if you really do follow the way, death/bad stuff isn't something to be always fought (or not fought, hee).

    The problem I have with that is what is to be done when the way of the world does need to be changed?
    Wu Wei, and later Confucianism, were both stalwart defenders of the order of the world, whatsoever it was. The former originated in the warring period, and its unattributed publication is considered by some a clue that it was pushed out in part by one of the dynasties. A large part of the doctrine of "doing by not doing" relates to not provoking social change, but instead knowing your place and allowing things to play out around you; ditto Confucianism.

    The way of the world need never be changed, and just the same for the way of the world you live in-- that was an idea at the heart of early Eastern thought. I'm not sure how things are different now, if they are; I only ever studied the Eastern philosophies in the context of their origins.

    words
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