Tao te Ching - part 1 chapter 2

DrumR

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Greetings all.
Having recently acquired two new translations of the TTC (Tao Teh Ching) to add to my library I shall endeavor to work on the second chapter this month, of February 2011, or as the Muse may strike. I am aware that the blinding speed with which I work may distress some but, take heart, I should complete my analysis of the whole of this tome in some 240-odd years before I start on the necessary revisions.:)
 

DrumR

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Continuing the Comparative Examination of the
Tao Te Ching: Part 1; The Way, Chapter 2, Preview and Review
My continuing Stumbles Concerning the Hap-Hazard Way.


One of the greatest difficulties when speaking of the Way is the innate lack of the ability, brought about by language deficiencies, to explain concepts to others, in a meaningful manner, who are not experiencing a similar internal event. As was brought out in Chapter 1, many of the manifestations of Tao impinge upon the senses and could be seen as some sort of a common reference point. Unfortunately the above perspective appears to be opposite to the conventional Western wisdom and "reality."

In the examination of Chapter 1 an "un-prepared and un-accepting mind" was alluded to. It is this "anti-prerequisite" that may be seen as one of the greatest of stumbling blocks to the advancement of one's intellectual study of the Tao. The second barrier being the lack of the implementation, or actualization, of the concepts presented in order to de-mystify the mystical on a personal and internal level.

OK. So here we are.
One doesn't know what one is supposed to be doing, nor the procedure or methodology of how one is to do it, and all of the words in whatever language will fail to tell one how.
Is this not a Wonderful beginning?
 
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DrumR

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The musical prelude having ended (returns drumsticks, unplugs seattlegal's electric guitar) on a quiet note, one may see some connections in tides, tempo and moods.

West coast versus East coast, fast versus slow, frenetic versus laid back. But is "versus," or contention, a descriptor most apt in this chapter's study?
 
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OK, so...we're still at Nothing. Well, not really.

Chapter 2 implies that everything has a wobble. Appreciating this allows the essential quality of humility which, in turn, allows for a flexible nobility. How does one propose the the primal paradox of weakened strength? What is conscious allowing? How does nature build without planning? And how do these functions apply to the human experience?

(extracts old, coffee stained copy of the Tao from bottom shelf of book case)...

...if heaven were ever pure,
it would likely rend.

If earth were ever tranquil,
it would likely quake.

If the spirits were ever divine,
they would likely dissipate.

If the valley were ever full,
it would likely run dry.

If feudal lords and kings were ever noble and thereby exalted,
they would likely fall.

Therefore,
It is necessary to be noble,
and yet take humility as a basis.

Chris
 

DrumR

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Continuing the Comparative Examination of
the Tao Te Ching: Part 1; The Way,
Chapter 2, First verse group.
My continuing Stumbles Concerning the Hap-Hazard Way.


OK. So here we are.
One doesn't know what one is supposed to be doing, nor the procedure or methodology of how one is to do it, and all of the words in whatever language will fail to tell one how.
Is this not a Wonderful beginning?

Then, when looking at the opening of chapter two, one is greeted by more cryptograms such as:
When all the world recognizes beauty as beauty, this in itself is ugliness.
When all the world recognizes good as good, this in itself is evil.<1>
When every one knows beauty is beauty, this is bad.
When every one knows good is good, this is not good.<2>
Which, in a more refined aspect, may lead to:

As soon as the world regards something as beautiful, ugliness simultaneously becomes apparent.
As soon as the world regards something as good, evil simultaneously becomes apparent.<3>
When the people of the earth all know the beauty as beauty,
There arises (the recognition of) ugliness.
When the people of the earth all know the good as good, there arises (the recognition of) evil.<4>
or it may also be looked upon in this manner.

People through finding something beautiful think something else un beautiful, through finding one man fit judge another unfit.
<5>
Which ever one chooses to examine they appear to fall short of
the mark without the accompanying verse of:
indeed the hidden and the manifest give birth to each other<1>
is and is not are mutually arising<6>
Many are those that would point to other, and later chapters of the Tao Teh Ching (TTC) or to other Taoist works, for confirmation
of portions of the above verses. Yet my leanings are more towards the first chapter itself.

One may perhaps recall that something similar, concerning the "Hidden and Manifest", appeared to be stated in the first chapter and that this introduction to the second chapter just may be, possibly even, have some semblance to a continuation of that first lesson. But then, on the off-claw, maybe it doesn't.
But is "versus," or contention, a descriptor most apt in this chapter's study?

Could it be that Beauty and Ugly are intertwined, that Evil and Good are but manifestations of the same Essence (Secret)?

Should these manifold "what ifs" lead one to believe that there may be an other page to this stumbling dissertation, well...

The odds are quite good in the favor of increased verbosity, but shall we not wait and see?


-----
References
1> John C.H. Wu
Tao Teh Ching - Shambhala Publications
2> Thomas Cleary
The Essential Tao - Harper Collins
3> Hua-Ching Ni
The Complete Works of Lao Tzu - Seven Star communications
4> Lin Yutang
The Wisdom of China and India - Modern library
5> Whitter Bynner
The Way of Life - Perigee/ Berkley Publishing Group
6> Man-Jen Cheng
Lao Tzu: "My words are very easy to understand." - North Atlantic Books
 

seattlegal

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have you ever noticed how 'imperfections' are often referred to as "beauty marks?' Indeed, 'perfection' can be downright boring!

Ever notice how we seem to be drawn to imperfections? Are we really looking for beauty?
 

seattlegal

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This post from Cyberpi comes to mind, where he demonstrated that it is impossible to draw a perfect circle in this existence: ;)

http://www.interfaith.org/forum/145190-post5.html

Is that like: I can not 'capture' or simultaneously know both the momentum and position of a particle; except as a concept? Or more like: I can not 'capture' or collect Santa Claus and his flying reindeers; except as a concept?

Is that like: I can not 'capture' or know the real history here? Or more like: I can not 'capture' or know the exact name of an alien bug allegedly living on another planet?

Not only can I not capture or know the exact ratio of circumference to diameter of a perfect circle except as a concept... neither can I see one or ever make one wherein the exact ratio of circumference to diameter would be an irrational number. The true perfection is not in the alleged perfection.

If I 'imagine' that someone somewhere knows the true story, the true history, the exact precise origin of the concept of Santa Claus and his flying reindeers, and knows the exact precise momentum and position of every particle simultaneously... he would still not know an irrational number as being the exact ratio of circumference to diameter of an alleged perfect circle because this universe was not designed to ever allow one. In order to be perfect that circle must have no quantum elements. The space that it occupies must be continuous without quantum distances. The thickness of the circumference of the circle itself must be zero. If a person shows me where in this Universe there is a perfect circle with an irrational ratio of circumference to diameter then I can show them where they made the error of believing a mathemagician.
 
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DrumR said:
Could it be that Beauty and Ugly are intertwined, that Evil and Good are but manifestations of the same Essence

We have to dispense with human projections of nobility and debauchery. Think about lions. Are they good or evil? Predatory nature, male domination, pack behavior- are these things evil or good when it comes to lions? Is a comet destroying the earth evil? Beyond philosophy and morality is the Way. It is as much defined by what isn't as what is. Sometimes what isn't defines what is, as in the "Valley Spirit."

The Tao is written for rulers. In this sense it is quite Machiavellian. One one hand there is the Way, but on the other is the subjugation of the People by "natural" means. Never lose sight of this.

Chris
 

seattlegal

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We have to dispense with human projections of nobility and debauchery. Think about lions. Are they good or evil? Predatory nature, male domination, pack behavior- are these things evil or good when it comes to lions? Is a comet destroying the earth evil? Beyond philosophy and morality is the Way. It is as much defined by what isn't as what is. Sometimes what isn't defines what is, as in the "Valley Spirit."

The Tao is written for rulers. In this sense it is quite Machiavellian. One one hand there is the Way, but on the other is the subjugation of the People by "natural" means. Never lose sight of this.

Chris
Well, if you want to call Libertarianism "machiavellian." The Tao echews the idea of personal gain for leaders, which is a hallmark of machiavellianism.
 

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Continuing the Comparative Examination of
the Tao Te Ching: Part 1; The Way,
Chapter 2, Second group of versus.
My continuing Stumbles Concerning the Hap-Hazard Way.

DrumR;239375 Could it be that Beauty and Ugly are intertwined said:
The first chapter advises that as one begins to name names, or draw distinctions between various aspects of the Tao, one moves further away from that all-inclusive nature of oneness, the Tao.

Yet Chapter one also speaks to the internal and external qualities of the Tao and, thereby, introduces the student to both the existence, and the initial example, of dualistic natures.

In Chapter Two a common pitfall of dualities is exposed when one views but one aspect in isolation of its supposed opposite. While this principle is presented, in the main, in a somewhat cryptic manner, it is followed by a series of examples of what may be considered as commonly observable dualities.

Some following one pattern:
The mutual production of being and nonbeing
The mutual completion of difficult and easy
The mutual formation of long and short
The mutual filling of high and low
The mutual harmony of tone and voice
The mutual following of front and back
These are all constants.<1>
Or another:
Indeed the hidden and manifest give birth to each other
Difficult and easy compliment each other
Long and short exhibit each other
High and low set measure to each other
Voice and sound harmonize each other
Back and front follow each other<2>
and some with a more poetic addition than others.
Life and death, though stemming from each other,
seem to conflict as stages of change
Difficult and easy are stages of achievement
Long and short as measures of contrast
High and low as degrees of relations
But since the varying of tones give music to a voice
And what is is the was of shall be, <3>
To see that these couplets, as in the example of the Good and Not-Good, are mutually inter-dependent and co-arising is also to see that the seed of the one is to be found embedded within the body of the other.

The Ying-Yang symbol, attributed to Taoism, may be seen to provide an ever present visual reminder of this concept, where the inclusion of a small "spark," of opposite hue, may be likened to that seed.




References:
1> Robert G Henricks
Te-Tao Ching - Modern Library
2> John C.H. Wu
Tao Teh Ching - Shambhala Publications
3> Whitter Bynner
The Way of Life - Perigee/ Berkley Publishing Group
 

DrumR

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The Tao is written for rulers. In this sense it is quite Machiavellian. One one hand there is the Way, but on the other is the subjugation of the People by "natural" means. Never lose sight of this.
Chris
The Tao is the Way.
The Te is the Virtue (of "The Way" or Tao).
The latter chapters, aka "Te" address virtuous leadership and perhaps rule.

Machiavelli's work "The Prince (Il Principe) addresses leadership and the maintenance of power, by both "Good" and nefarious means. this work of machiavelli received some "Bad Press" in its time yet his main detractors were mainly the Monarchies and their minions.

Few of the world renowned Despots are know to have had, and relied upon, a copy of the Tao Te Ching to inflict their rule, where as Machiavelli's work is a known factor with a number of those Despots.

Additionally, the particular translation of "The Prince" may slant the work towards imposing one's rule upon others or more towards being a leader of The People.
 

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(extracts old, coffee stained copy of the Tao from bottom shelf of book case)...

...if heaven were ever pure,
it would likely rend.

Chris

This extract appears to be from the Victor H. Mair translation of the Tao Te Ching.
At the moment my Mair translation is atop a pile of Bynner, Cleary, and Yutang translations with a Blakney and Henricks translation resting on top of it. this pile is next to another pile of various translations of the Tao Te Ching on my desk.:)

I find the Victor H. Mair translation to have a Confucian overtone in most of its renderings and believe that this translation may be of some use for the study of Complete Reality School of Taoism which incorporates the teachings of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.
 
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Thank you for the favor of a reply, seattlegal.
I hope that the rapidity of this response, less than a 12 month turn around, did not catch one unawares nor disrupt one's calm and meditative undertakings.;)

I have considered that one might have the right of it and that a newly sharpened and polished drill bit may very well be used as a "beautiful" example of how one might arrive at the conclusion that:
'perfection' can be downright boring!
:)
 
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