Wednesday, September 25, 2013

490: Daoism continued

When in the IEP R. Littlejohn of Belmont University writes "The Daodejing (Tao-Te-Ching) teaches that humans cannot fathom the Dao, because any name we give to it cannot capture it. It is beyond what we can conceive (ch.1)", I am puzzled.

Is this  similar to counting from one to endless, where we are unable to fathom endlessness, or asking where exactly the Universe is positioned, loosing all understanding of space and time there? You can meditate on such questions for hours.

Mysticism, religion or philosophy, what are we dealing with here? Several times I have read that we should not apply our western philosophical concepts to Chinese thinking.

Then I wonder, what concepts Chinese thinkers use, being equipped with the same tools we have: the brain. Let me put it this way, for me to understand Daoism, I place it in the context of human behavior.

And there I see that whatever concepts are used, a certain way of thinking leads to the same behavior, whether it is in Western Culture or non Western culture.

We can not fathom the Dao, it is said, but those who "WU WEI" may, may become a sage, a master. Wu wei is a difficult notion to translate. 

Yet, it is generally agreed that the traditional rendering of it as “nonaction” or “no action” is incorrect. Those who wu wei do act. 

Daoism is not a philosophy of “doing nothing.” Wu wei means something like “act naturally,” “effortless action,” or “nonwillful action.” The point is that there is no need for human tampering with the flow of reality. Go with the flow.

So what is the image of the ideal person, the sage.
"…the sage manages affairs without doing anything, and conveys his instructions without the use of speech." (DDJ, ch.2) That is Wu wei.

In this respect, they are like newborn infants, who move naturally, without planning and reliance on the structures given to them by others (ch. 15). 

In the Daodejing it is said, that sages empty themselves, becoming void of pretense. Sages concentrate their internal energies (qi). 

They clean their vision (ch. 10). They manifest plainness and become like uncarved wood (pu) (ch. 19). They live naturally and free from desires given by men (ch. 37) They settle themselves and know how to be content (ch. 46). 

That is what I mean with focusing on human behavior. The Daoist sage behaves apparently just like an Indian yogi or a classic christian monk.

It seems, that for some reason the human being tends to distance himself from its biological and cultural realities to achieve something spiritual.

The effortlessness (Wu wei) of the Daoist contemplative was modified by the use of techniques of meditation, such as controlled breathing, analogous to those employed in Indian yoga. 

The Daoist aim of an immediate, intuitive, inner illumination was sufficiently close to the aim of Buddhist meditation for it to be natural that the two streams of religion should influence each other in the period after Buddhism’s arrival in China.

The term Dao means a road, and is often translated as “the Way.” This is because sometimes Dao is used as a noun (that is, “the dao”) and other times as a verb (i.e. daoing). 

Dao is the process of reality itself, the way things come together, while still transforming. All this reflects the deep seated Chinese belief that change is the most basic character of things.

In the Ji Ching the patterns of this change are symbolized by figures standing for 64 relations of correlative forces and known as the hexagrams. Dao is the alteration of these forces, most often simply stated as yin and yang.

These are only a few initial remarks. Next lecture we'll look into Daoism some more.

Thank you. ^_^

The Discussion

[13:18] Nectanebus claps
[13:19] Nectanebus: Very interesting
[13:19] Gemma Allen: i need to read more on it
[13:19] xtc yonimyxtc: thank you, professor bergson :-)
[13:19] herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks...the floor is yours :-))
[13:19] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T  * ::::::::::
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: hmm this gets more and mire interesting for sure
[13:20] Nectanebus: You were contrasting the Daoist method with the meditation of Buddhists, not saying that Doaists meditate as Buddhists do
[13:21] herman Bergson: Of course there are differences between buddhism and daoism....
[13:21] Gemma Allen: but some similarities tho
[13:21] herman Bergson: But keep one thing clear in mind....
[13:21] Gemma Allen: right it is a way of life
[13:22] herman Bergson: this project is not meant to tell you what Daoism exactly is or means....
[13:22] herman Bergson: It just offers you a start for personal investigation and research on the subject
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: at least it gives some insight in the subject
[13:23] Nectanebus: The part about "spirituality" reminds me of Zizek and his ideas on relation of fantasy and reality in "Pervert's Guide to Cinema".
[13:23] Gemma Allen: well to understand it must be learned something about it
[13:23] herman Bergson: Let me put it this way.....
[13:23] Nectanebus: To come to a realization of something, one must study it. Not everyone reaches satori through a slap in the face
[13:24] Nectanebus: And Enlightenmet is something kinda of misrepresented in general, I've found
[13:25] Gemma Allen: sorrry to leave early rl is calling
[13:25] Oceane: have a great day Gemma
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: cu Gemma
[13:27] Corronach: the lesson, i mean. i understand from what Herman said, that it is a state of being.
[13:40] Qwark Allen: if its a way of thinking we can learn it
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: yes to really understand something you must experience it
[13:41] xtc yonimyxtc: human behaviour, yes
[13:41] herman Bergson: You are nor born, according to the Daodejingm as a sage....
[13:42] herman Bergson: It needs a lot of practice, learning and study to get that far
[1[13:43] herman Bergson: I leave it to all of you individually to get to your own opinion on this point of view
[13:44] herman Bergson: I certainly would advice you to read the article in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy to begin with
[13:44] Qwark Allen: the true way of thinking is buddhism, but that is to another lecture
[13:45] herman Bergson: So there is a lot of literature and interpretations available
[13:51] Corronach: herman i noticed in your talk you compared the daoist with a newborn child. this made me wonder about the sustainability of it. newborns are unable to meet their biological needs for food, etc. how can a daoist live without being dependent on others?
[13:51] Corronach: and if everyone wanted to be such a way, no one would be left to ensure survival at whatever level.
[13:51] xtc yonimyxtc: very good question, corronach
[13:51] Corronach: am i taking that too far?
[13:52] herman Bergson: That is the problem with Chinese philosophy Corronach.....
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:52] herman Bergson: it talks in analogies and metaphors....
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: hmm thats interesting indeed
[13:52] Bejiita Imako: is¨
[13:52] Corronach: i'm quite community minded. i think that it is not an interdependent, but rather a dependent way of being which could be problematic.
[13:52] herman Bergson: not in the logical we we prefer to discuss issues
[13:53] Nectanebus: indirect instead of direct, almost?
[13:53] Corronach: maybe that's why i struggle to get my brain around it.
[13:54] Corronach: i realise i operate under a constructed morality and value system; however, i feel that is more important than pure selfishness
[13:54] Corronach: i guess i see it as to simply "be" incurs a sort of disregard for one's surroundings, for other people.
[13:55] Nectanebus: Good point, darling!
[13:55] Bejiita Imako: all heavy metals are
[1[13:55] herman Bergson: As I said Corronach.....daoist as a behavior resembles that of monks and yogis...
[13:55] Nectanebus: In as of the heremitude and such
[13:56] Corronach: that makes sense. i suppose my response would be that not everyone should be a monk or a yogi. :)
[13:56] Nectanebus: Almost denying the real for the transcendental, which can be dangerous
[13:56] herman Bergson: It seems to be in our system, yes nectanebus
[13:56] herman Bergson: I explicitly refer to it as behavior to make you wonder about how this behavior can exist
[1[13:57] Corronach: herman, that makes sense. i understood what you said about it being a state of being, but in being something, you ultimately *do* something.
[13:58] herman Bergson: yes indeed Corronach....
[13:58] herman Bergson: even when you burry yourself under a stone for are showing observable behavior :-)
[13:58] Nectanebus: Yup
[13:58] Corronach: exactly
[13:59] Nectanebus: Hence the problem
[13:59] herman Bergson: And from what we DO, we learn who and what we are
[13:59] Corronach: actually i don't think it's really possible to separate "being" from "doing"
[14:00] herman Bergson: When we discuss "being" and "doing" we run into a semantical discussion
[14:00] Nectanebus: I could go all day on semantics, I love splitting hairs haha
[14:00] Corronach: yes, i realize that may stray slightly off topic too.
[14:00] herman Bergson: Besides that it makes me think of Sartre
[14:00] Nectanebus: How so?
[14:01] herman Bergson: For him there was no"being" as such...all was "doing"
[14:01] herman Bergson: making choices....
[14:01] Bejiita Imako: ok
[14:01] Nectanebus: Ah, ok
[14:01] Nectanebus: I've only read "Nausea" and some quotes. Although I've read Nausea too many times...must be the misanthropy haha
[14:02] Bejiita Imako:
[14:02] herman Bergson: But some of these religious ideas seem to have a tendency to propagate a kind of "being" which disconnects you from any responsibility
[14:02] Nectanebus: Hence the prolbem of just "being" resulting in others having to look after you
[14:02] Corronach: yes, i think that's what i am seeing :)
[14:02] Nectanebus: Yeah
[14:02] Nectanebus: Today's a good example of that
[14:02] Bejiita Imako: ok
[14:03] herman Bergson: even an atom is not just there...being....
[14:03] herman Bergson: it behaves in interaction with its environment....
[14:05] OceaneOceane thanks herman for a nice discussion and wishes everyone a calm and pleasant day, night - good bye
[14:05] Corronach: take care Oceane
[14:05] herman Bergson: Bye Oceane ...
[14:05] Bejiita Imako: bye Oceaine
[14:06] Nectanebus: What is koan?
[14:06] Nectanebus: haha
[14:06] herman Bergson: Well...
[14:06] Corronach: the daoism you've spoken about, herman, reminds me of concepts i've learned in meditation. i assume there is an influence there?
[14:06] Corronach: okay herman, sorry :)
[14:07] herman Bergson: There certainly is an influence there Corronach....
[14:07] Corronach whispers: it's been an hour. :)
[14:07] xtc yonimyxtc: byby oceane
[14:07] herman Bergson: Daoism has also become known in the US and Eurpoe...
[14:07] herman Bergson: lots of books on the subject...
[14:07] Nectanebus: Anywho, I've got to become a tree
[14:07] Bejiita Imako: ah
[14:07] Nectanebus: I'll see you al around
[14:07] Corronach: herman, thank you for the talk
[14:07] Bejiita Imako: interesting subject this
[14:08] herman Bergson: We'll continue the issue in the next lecture.
[14:08] herman Bergson: Nice tree Nectanebus...
[14:08] Corronach: i'll be a tree now too
[14:08] Bejiita Imako: gotta run
[14:08] herman Bergson: Thank you all for the vivid discussion and exchange of ideas :-))
[14:08] Bejiita Imako: cu Herman
[14:08] herman Bergson: It was a pleasue
[14:09] xtc yonimyxtc: i'll just be me
[14:09] Corronach: thank you Herman
[14:09] herman Bergson: Class dismissed ^_^
[14:09] xtc yonimyxtc: byby, sweet Souls

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