Thursday, October 3, 2013

492: Daoism continued some more...

In my previous lecture I told you that a google search on Daoism generated more than 3.5 million hits. So, you may conclude that there still is a lot of information about it.

Yet the history of Daoism is eventually not that positive. Around 1400 Daoism reached its zenith. It became a mix of Confucianis, Buddhism and Daoism.

Around 1849 Daoist and Buddhist temples were destroyed by followers of a strange version of Chinese christianity. The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) attempted to complete the destruction of Daoism. Daoist Masters were killed or “re-educated.”

But this morning there was an interesting article in my newspaper, which shows again that it is worthwhile to immerse in philosophy.

Let me quote Anne Meijdam, China correspondent of "De Volkskrant", one of the Dutch national newspapers. The headline is: "Xi Jinping points at religion as binder against moral decline.

China has lost its soul and to regain it traditional religions should get more space. Chinese President Xi Jinping would behind the scenes advocate this. 

Xi is worried about the decades of moral decline of the Chinese society, under the influence of the booming Chinese economy.

The rapid economic progress in China is associated with an obsession for a lot of money and material prosperity. President Xi Jinping hopes that Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism could offer the Chinese people moral benchmarks again.

Between 2008 and 2012 approximately 145 thousand officials  were condemned for corruption - an average of 78 convictions a day, according to a report from the Chinese Supreme Court. 

Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism provide the poor part of the people a possible comfort. The lower classes of Chinese society hardly shared in the economic progress. Beijing is afraid of large scale riots. Xi would hope that religion  can function as lightning conductor.

Xi is not the first communist leader who shows an  interest in religion. Former President Jiang Zemin is even said to be a real Buddhists. 

Under apparently the watchful eye of his successor Hu Jintao Confucianism rapidly gained more popularity. That process was until the arrival of Xi subtly promoted, just to fill China's moral vacuum. - END QUOTE

Although there are some shared views in Daoism and Confucianism, like the concept of self-cultivation and this-worldly concern for the concrete details of life, there are big differences.

There is a metaphore. Give a daoist and a confucianist a piece of wood and ask them to make a sculpture of man. 

The daoist would give you back the piece wood, untouched, that is, in tis natural state.The confucianist would give you a piece of wood that is all carved and polished, a real sculpture.

One of the most fundamental teachings of Dao De Jing is that human discriminations, such as in morality (good, bad) and aesthetics (beauty, ugly) generate the troubles and problems of existence 

The clear implication is that the person following the dao must cease ordering his life according to human-made distinctions.

So, it is best to practice wu-wei (non action) in all endeavors, to act naturally and not willfully try to oppose or tamper with how reality is moving.

Confucius and his followers, however, wanted to change the world and be proactive in setting things straight. They wanted to tamper, orchestrate, plan, educate, develop, and propose solutions.

Confucians think they can engineer reality, understand it, name it, control it. The daoist believes the Confucians create a gulf between humans and nature, that weakens and destroys us.

We'll see which of the two philosophies / religions will be the best lightning conductor for China.

The Discussion

[13:15] herman Bergson: Thank you...:-))
[13:15] Nectanebus claps
[13:15] Nectanebus: Nice jokes at the end there ;)
[13:15] Abinoam Nørgaard: wonderful
[13:15] Daruma Boa claps
[13:16] herman Bergson: the floor is yours ...:-)
[13:16] Bejiita Imako: yay
[13:16] Nectanebus: Wow, where to begin?
[13:16] Daruma Boa: anywhere^^
[13:16] Abinoam Nørgaard: a quick question, because i missed the previous session. you've been referring to daoism as a religion now. what makes it a religious, as opposed to purely philosophical system?
[13:16] .: Beertje :.: does wu-wei lead to anything?
[13:16] .: Beertje :.: anything?
[13:17] herman Bergson: Oh that is easy to see Abi.....
[13:17] herman Bergson: Daoism had developed into an institutionalized religion around 1400...with temples, rituals, belief in magic and alchemy etc.
[13:18] Abinoam Nørgaard: oh, i see. and people still practice those?
[13:18] Nectanebus: For sure
[13:18] herman Bergson: yes...Tai Chi and the theory of yin/yang are related to daoism
[13:18] Abinoam Nørgaard: right. thanks for the answer
[13:19] Nectanebus: All Wudang styles come from Daoist teachings
[13:19] Nectanebus: As opposed ot Shaolin, which is Buddhist
[13:19] Abinoam Nørgaard: i see, wow
[13:19] herman Bergson: It is philosophically interesting from the perpective how it answers ethical questions
[13:19] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:19] herman Bergson: Does wu-wei lead to anything....?
[13:20] herman Bergson: It does  not mean that you should do nothing....
[13:20] Daruma Boa: i think everything leads to anything
[13:20] xtc yonimyxtc: the poor of china are going to riot whatever religion or philosophy the chinese leaders allow.
[13:20] herman Bergson: yes Daruma it is impossible to do nothing....
[13:20] Daruma Boa: sure herman^^^
[13:20] herman Bergson: That might happen indeed
[13:20] herman Bergson: But this wu-wei idea....
[13:20] Nectanebus: Wu-wei is more to act without intent towards a result, to "go with the flow" entirely regardless of ones own inclinations.
[13:21] Nectanebus: In a sense
[13:21] herman Bergson: it is a kind of attitude towards nature....
[13:21] .: Beertje :.: ah
[13:21] herman Bergson: Don't ask me how to act "natural" in stead of artificial....
[13:22] Nectanebus: haha
[13:22] herman Bergson: Such ideas or actually beliefs what is the natural way of being....I don't know how to interpret that
[13:22] herman Bergson: Do we have to abandon culture and live like the chimpansees or something like that
[13:23] Nectanebus: I'm worried about the reasonings behind China's need for yet more control when they've already go no rights for animals, people, or the environment, but that's more political than philosophical. I think that Confucianism is likely to win out considering the populace, though.
[13:23] herman Bergson: I really don't know how people can have knowledge of the "natural state" of man.
[13:23] Abinoam Nørgaard nods
[13:23] Corronach: i don't think we can survive without a degree of structure, which may seem "unnatural"
[13:24] herman Bergson: that Is my idea too Nectanebus...
[13:24] Corronach whispers: unless it is considered natural that we seek a structure :)
[13:24] Abinoam Nørgaard: for us as humans it is natural
[13:24] Daruma Boa: nature is structure
[13:24] herman Bergson: that is the point Corronach :-)
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:25] Daruma Boa: ah?
[13:25] Nectanebus: That's an interesting one. I wouldn't say structure itself is a non-Daoist thing, but the idea of being able to rely on it in extremis may well be a phallacy. Look at any legal system, for example. It'd probably be more Daoist to take everything "as it comes" in a courtroom, and more Confucian to allow no through for the individual outside of the law.
[13:25] Abinoam Nørgaard: lol
[13:25] herman Bergsonherman Bergson smiles
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: really interesting for sure
[13:26] Loo Zeta-Ah: Christianity is increasing in China also... i wonder if Eastern religions/philosophies are increasing in Western society sequentialiy
[13:26] Nectanebus: fallacy*, talk about a Freudian slip...
[13:26] Nectanebus: Yes, Loo, the 60s certainly happened, haha
[13:26] xtc yonimyxtc: the sooner cultures meld the better off the world will be.
[13:26] Loo Zeta-Ah: Due to gobalisation and communication
[13:26] Abinoam Nørgaard: indeed
[13:26] Nectanebus: If we meld coherently instead of segregate within the same tower block
[13:27] herman Bergson: I don't see in increase of eastern religions in the West...
[13:27] herman Bergson: It was popular in the 60s indeed....
[13:27] xtc yonimyxtc: i do not see an increase of eastern religions in the west
[13:27] Daruma Boa: but the 60s are gone
[13:27] Abinoam Nørgaard: buddhism seems to be on the grow, i think
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:27] herman Bergson: but as I said...daoism....3.5 million hits in Google...
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:28] Loo Zeta-Ah: <--- failed="" font="" hippy="">
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: tried and i get something around that indeed
[13:28] herman Bergson: So ..people are interested, I guess
[13:28] herman Bergson: But there is a difference....
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: must be something at least
[13:28] Nectanebus: I think there's an increase of Atheism in the west, and the small amount of learning people did in the 60s just got absorbed into "New Age" thought, so now people think Tantra is sexual...I don't trust the West to appreciate outside cultures as anything more than a novelty
[13:28] herman Bergson: between an institutionalized and organized religion
[13:28] Abinoam Nørgaard: true, nectanebus
[13:28] xtc yonimyxtc: buddhism is only on the grow because buddhists are moving west not because westerns, per se, are converting
[13:29] Nectanebus: Interesting point, X, and I agree there
[13:29] herman Bergson: Like you find in China and the interest in ideas of a certain philosophy/religion
[13:29] Loo Zeta-Ah: Buddhism can give moral order without the guilt
[13:29] herman Bergson: indeed nectanebus....
[13:30] herman Bergson: same with islam  XTC....
[13:30] Nectanebus: eww...
[13:30] xtc yonimyxtc: the west doesn't have to emulate outside cultures as most outside cultures want what the west has.
[13:30] herman Bergson: they build large mosques in the Netherlands....
[13:30] herman Bergson: not because we become muslims but because the muslims come to us
[13:30] Nectanebus: Yup
[13:30] xtc yonimyxtc: yes, professor, same with islam
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:31] Bejiita Imako: thats correct
[13:31] herman Bergson: That is a point xtc....
[13:31] Nectanebus: And speaking of integration, it's a good example of how people will expatriate without needing to integrate
[13:31] herman Bergson: all want what the West has....its technology, science, prosperity...
[13:31] xtc yonimyxtc: yes, nectanebus
[13:31] herman Bergson: Look at china...
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: indeed china make all our stuff now
[13:32] Nectanebus: I don't see Islam getting much of a hold in China, I must say.
[13:32] Daruma Boa: and without thinking about nature^^
[13:32] Daruma Boa: just want want want
[13:32] Loo Zeta-Ah: The shift is to China and not the West for material benefits now
[13:32] xtc yonimyxtc: true, nectanebus
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: made in china is on almost all things you find even if the company itself making it might be japanese ect.
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: they have all their production there
[13:32] herman Bergson: Buddhists and muslims are fighting each other already in Birma
[13:32] Loo Zeta-Ah: manufacturing occurs in China
[13:33] Loo Zeta-Ah: Parts, steel, iPhones....
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: yep
[13:33] Nectanebus: Are we getting off-topic here?
[13:33] xtc yonimyxtc: china copy bots western products and resells it cheaper, not so much that anything is shifting there
[13:33] herman Bergson: Could be Nectanebus....
[13:33] Loo Zeta-Ah: not really because people have to make sense of life beyond materialism
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: the thing is that everything moves to materialism nowadays
[13:34] Daruma Boa: sure.sadly
[13:34] herman Bergson: Point is that Confucianism and daoism still pay an important role in China...
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: stuff stuff more stuff and money
[13:34] Loo Zeta-AhLoo Zeta-Ah shows up as failed hippy again
[13:34] Daruma Boa: ppl do not know why they live these days
[13:34] Bejiita Imako: 'money
[13:34] Abinoam Nørgaard: it may seem like a new thing, but it's always been like that
[13:34] Daruma Boa: they are lost
[13:34] Daruma Boa: in too many options
[13:34] xtc yonimyxtc: materialism is important for creature comforts
[13:35] Daruma Boa: it is too much possible
[13:35] Daruma Boa: ppl can not handle this
[13:35] Nectanebus: Well, yeah, I was having a convo with a friend about that the other day, herman
[13:35] Loo Zeta-Ah: But when it is held by the minority
[13:35] Loo Zeta-Ah: over the majority then.... riot
[13:35] herman Bergson: What they observe in china can be observed here too....
[13:35] Loo Zeta-Ah: Religion calms them....
[13:35] Nectanebus: We were wondering whether, lacking a religious angle, atheism has no true ability to structure the morals of a populace, what with mass media being a shallow comparison next to Allah or IHVH
[13:36] herman Bergson: the lack of an clear ethical answer to the question who/what am I
[13:36] herman Bergson: religions give such answers....but those are religions...
[13:37] Daruma Boa: no religion is bad. only what ppl do or "read" in it
[13:37] Daruma Boa: or want to read in it
[13:37] xtc yonimyxtc: daoist and confucianists will also integrate materialism into their philosophy/religion just as christianity, islam, hinduism, etc has
[13:37] Nectanebus: And it is easier for one to follow a spiritual path to realisation than a mertial path to being a footballer
[13:37] herman Bergson: I would say no, nectanebus....religion is not a necessary condition for the creation of moral ruules
[13:37] Nectanebus: monetary*
[13:37] herman Bergson: Aristotle already has shown us that
[13:37] Daruma Boa: Aristotle is dead^^^
[13:38] Loo Zeta-Ah: I agree with Herman as people use religion to justify their personal positioning
[13:38] Nectanebus: I wouldn't say it's necessary either, to be honest, but there needs to be a reason for people to follow morality that has the same hold as a Godhead, or else, as Western civilization of late has shown, materialism causes greed to rampant excess.
[13:38] Daruma Boa: yes true loo
[13:38] herman Bergson: yes Daruma....people die...their ideas can survive however
[13:38] Daruma Boa: they do, but we can now make our own thoughts
[13:38] Daruma Boa: perhaps on the base of Aristotle 
[13:39] herman Bergson: yes indeed....
[13:39] Daruma Boa: live goes on
[13:39] Daruma Boa: and it changes daily
[13:39] xtc yonimyxtc: i don't get the connection of the last phrase about materialism in your sentence about morality, nectanebus
[13:39] herman Bergson: Here we are of topic but the essential question the human being BY NATURE a moral being....?
[13:39] Nectanebus: Well, without the parable of the beggar's last penny and rich people not getting into heaven, there's a lot less care being thrown around.
[13:40] Nectanebus: Oh, Herman, you didn't just go there, did you?
[13:40] Daruma Boa: i guess perhaps yes
[13:40] Nectanebus sweats
[13:40] Daruma Boa: but then comes live^^
[13:40] Daruma Boa: anfd the thoughts
[13:40] Daruma Boa: and the rest
[13:40] Daruma Boa: the struggles with live
[13:40] Daruma Boa: life
[13:40] Nectanebus: Gnostics versus Transcendentalists, pick your corner, get your gloves! Soc side blue, psy side red, let's av' it haha
[13:40] herman Bergson: Well...I only will refer to the books of Frans de Waal.....check him out...:-)
[13:41] xtc yonimyxtc: the human being is, by nature or otherwise, a morale being.
[13:41] xtc yonimyxtc: lol, nectanebus
[13:41] Nectanebus: id versus superego, anyone?
[13:41] Daruma Boa: yup
[13:41] Nectanebus: I@m sorry, I really can't afford to get involved here, I'll start ranting too much
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well, I'd advise you to think it all over :-)
[13:42] Daruma Boa: i think too much i guess
[13:42] Daruma Boa: and i think humans think too much
[13:42] xtc yonimyxtc: rant away, nectanebus
[13:42] Nectanebus: Suffice to say I think people learn their morals, and that they are subjective to an extent for everyone, regardless of deep seated belief, due to emotional and situational circumstance
[13:42] Daruma Boa: they have to learn to feel
[13:43] herman Bergson: I already paid attention to this issue in previous projects...
[13:43] Nectanebus: I@m sure it comes up constantly, haha
[13:43] Daruma Boa: missed it^^^
[13:43] herman Bergson: Oh yes....
[13:43] herman Bergson: So as you notice....
[13:43] Daruma Boa: its the most important thing -i guess°
[13:44] herman Bergson: this discussion a a typical daoist approach of our questions....we go with the flow :-))
[13:44] Abinoam Nørgaard:
[13:44] .: Beertje :.: i think now I understand wu-wei...:)
[13:44] Nectanebus: heheh
[13:44] herman Bergson: Next time we might behave more confucian :-))
[13:44] Daruma Boa: more???^^
[13:45] Daruma Boa: ok
[13:45] herman Bergson: May I thank you all for your active participation again....
[13:45] Daruma Boa: dito.
[13:45] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...^_^
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: great!
[13:45] Abinoam Nørgaard: thank you herman, great class
[13:45] .: Beertje :.: thank you Herman:)
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: as always
[13:45] Loo Zeta-Ah: crashed sorry
[13:45] Daruma Boa: have a lovely evening herman. and also the rest of the class.
[13:45] herman Bergson: You too Daruma :-)
[13:45] Nectanebus: Are we finishing eraly today, then?
[13:45] Daruma Boa: nini all
[13:45] Corronach: Thank you herman
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: cu soon again all
[13:46] Nectanebus: Cool, I'll see you all around, I@m sure
[13:47] Loo Zeta-Ah: Toodle pip and thanks Herman and everybody else I get a lot out of the discussions
[13:47] herman Bergson: thank you Loo
[13:47] Abinoam Nørgaard: good night everyone!
[13:48] Corronach: Good night
[13:48] .: Beertje :.: goodnight:)
[13:48] Nectanebus: NIght all
[13:48] herman Bergson: Bye all :-)
[13:48] xtc yonimyxtc: byby those who are leaving...
[13:48] xtc yonimyxtc: fare well until we meet again...
[13:48] xtc yonimyxtc: oxo...
[13:50] xtc yonimyxtc: Enjoy traveling around Second Life...
[13:50] xtc yonimyxtc: thank you for hosting, professor
[13:50] herman Bergson: Ok xtc :-)

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