Tao te Ching - part 1 chapter 1

Discussion in 'Tao' started by iBrian, Sep 23, 2003.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Reading group: Tao te Ching - part 1 chapter 1

    The purpose of the "Reading Group" threads is to take a specific chapter (or other extract) from a piece of text.

    Anyone here is then invited to share their thoughts on the extract they read - what it reminds them of, what they associate with it - what it means to them personally.

    And, quite importantly, how they see aspects of it linking to other features of world religious and spiritual thought.

    Anyone can start a thread on any extract, and see what the response is.

    Btw - as this is the specifically comparative board of the forum, critical evaluation should be considered quite welcome. After all, we are not revealing universal truths, as much as relating our own personal aspects to particular works.

    I'll start off with something simple and easy-going: the Tao Te Ching - part 1 chapter 1:

    [source: Tao Te Ching: An English-Language translation by Charles Muller:

    http://www.human.toyogakuen-u.ac.jp/~acmuller/contao/laotzu.htm ]




    What I like most about this simply little piece of text - the way it implicitely states that Divinity is both beyond all human understanding, yet wholly part of the human experience. It simply states that Divinity is too complex to pin down to simple categories, and that to understand requires the ability to accept non-understanding. :)

    Of all the attempts to desribe my own perception of God, this often seems one of the most relevant. :)
     
  2. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste Brian,

    this text, specifically, started me down the path of the eastern traditions.... though i'm partial to Thomas Cleary's translations.

    over the years, i've assembled a relatively complete collection of the school of Taoism called Complete Reality, the Northern school as opposed to the Southern school.

    i'd be happy to post something from one of those texts, if you'd like.
     
  3. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    If they are copyright-free, or else I could get written permission to use them, then I could actually put them on the main site.

    I've certainly neglected to add much since the Shinto texts a couple of months ago - but I've definitely not forgotten about the issue. Simply a matter of priorities.

    There's a very good chance that after Christmas I'll be adding a lot of content very very quickly indeed though. :)
     
  4. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    from a jewish perspective there is nothing there that i cannot fully and totally agree with in many respects, especially the bit about the difference between the name that can be named and the Eternal Name.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  5. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste brian,

    hmm... that's a good question... most of the texts are from ancient China.. however, the english translations may have a copyright or somesuch... i'll have to check on that this weekend.
     
  6. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I certainly chose this small section, not least because it can say so much about Divinity - and I had a funny feeling that there would be room for a lot of agreement here. :)

    And thanks for that, Vajradhara. Feel free to e-mail information to me on that. :)
     
  7. DrumR

    DrumR New Member

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    Re: Reading group: Tao te Ching - part 1 chapter 1


    Beautiful is it not?

    Once upon a time, on a BBS far, far, away.....
    (add your preferred theme music here)

    I had participated in such a study/examination as you propose here. I had found it most rewarding and had learned much from the experience as it was a critical time in my studies of the Tao. The abilities to share one's personal perceptions with others of somewhat common interests is a most difficult aspect of plodding upon the path of the "Lonesome Way."

    Speaking of experiences...
    I find that you are right on the mark, IMHO, concerning the relationship of the Tao and that it is experiential in its nature. I have found that this is a major point that many do not initially understand.

    As to being "too complex" I would rather substitute the word "vast." This sheer vastness is akin to imagining the length of the flight of the legendary Phoenix in a time period thousands of years ago. What great feats of imagination were required and employed by these Peoples. Oops, I wax hugely. I humbly beg your pardon.

    A matter of semantics, perhaps, but how does this "fall" upon the ear?

    "... to understand requires that combination of insight, understanding, and acceptance of one's own in-ability to understand."

    "To dream the impossible dream," to explain the un-explainable; sounds very much like the Tao to me.
     
  8. DrumR

    DrumR New Member

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    Re: Reading group: Tao te Ching - part 1 chapter 1

    Continuing the comparative examination of the
    Tao Te Ching: Part 1; The Way, Chapter 1.

    The Tao has also been called The Way and the path. The Tao has been compared with a narrow and winding un-beaten track.
    Similar to a deer trail in the wood it is most difficult to describe to others the fullness of the experience of following an un-specified track located in an area that few people would visit or even know exist.


    Compounding this is the lack of solid definitive words in language to describe that experiential "something" to someone else lacking in same. Today we may resort to saying "You would have had to have been there," communicating little concerning that experience to, in most cases, an un-prepared and un-accepting mind.
    Thus one is "stuck" while trying to explain to others, with what may initially appear to be a deliberate exercise of obfuscation, by repeating the same tired ritual of:
    Yet even that basic message can be seen as influenced by one philosophy:
    or another:
    Of course this may add to the level of confusion perceived by the curious inquirer's initial attempts to "figure out" this whole Tao business.


    References:
    1) Thomas Cleary, The Essential Tao.
    2) Ursal K. Le Guin, Lao Tzu Tao Te Ching
    3) Witter Bynner, The Way of life - according to Lao Tzu
    4) Charles Muller,
    5) John C.H. Wu, Tao Te Ching: Lao Tzu
    6) Lin Yutang, The Wisdom of China and India, Modern Library
    7) Victor H. Mair, Tao Te Ching: The classic book of Integrity and The Way
    8) Brian Walker, Hua Hu Ching: The teachings of Lao Tzu.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2008
  9. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Excellent - nice to see this discussion come back up after 5 years. Certainly worth revisiting. :)
     
  10. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    I first read the Tao te Ching as a schoolboy after being directed to it from reading Jungs thoughts on the I Ching. Strangely, it seems to me, I look on it almost no differently today than I did close to 30 years ago.

    To me the verse has no religious meaning at all and does not refer to the divine but to mankinds relationship with knowledge. It is simply the deepest truth about any study and is especially, or easilly, evident in the study of science. You can give something a name and know it in detail. But you can never know all there is to know. The name you give though apparently accurate and to some degree depthful will not contain all there is to know about any given idea/object. And it cannot. On some level everything is infinitely reducible and infinitely expandable and the sideways directions are also infinite. What it says then to me is that the universe is big, to big to even get the tinyest smidgen of an overview into its ultimate nature. Quite frankly the Tao Te Ching is one of the finest peices of philosophical honesty ever produced.

    tao
     
  11. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    Re: Reading group: Tao te Ching - part 1 chapter 1

    It also describes the Christian God rather well as expressed by Meister Eckhart which is not to be confused with the personal God of Secular Judaism and Christendom

    "The mind never rests but must go on expecting and preparing for what is yet known and what is still concealed. Meanwhile, man cannot know what God is, even though he be ever so well of what God is not; and an intelligent person will reject that. As long as it has no reference point, the mind can only wait as matter waits for him. And matter can never find rest except in form; so, too, the mind can never find rest except in the essential truth which is locked up in it--the truth about everything. Essence alone satisfied and God keeps on withdrawing, farther and farther away, to arouse the mind's zeal and lure it to follow and finally grasp the true good that has no cause. Thus, contented with nothing, the mind clamors for the highest good of all." Meister Eckhart
     
  12. DrumR

    DrumR New Member

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    Well and most eloquently said, Tao_Equus. I find my self in agreement in all particulars and I do not, as a rule, use the word "all" that often.
     
  13. DrumR

    DrumR New Member

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    Re: Reading group: Tao te Ching - part 1 chapter 1

    I Thank you for the quote of Meister Eckhart, Nick_A. I find that it supports my theory that there is a little bit of the Tao to be found in most systems of belief.
     
  14. DrumR

    DrumR New Member

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    It has been well over twice that period of time for myself I_Brian, and the study of the Tao is seldom not worth revisiting.
     
  15. DrumR

    DrumR New Member

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    Continuing the comparative examination of the
    Tao Te Ching: Part 1; The Way, Chapter 1, second verse pair.
    My continuing Stumblings Concerning the Hap-Hazard Way.
    A lesson from Zen Buddhism may add to the clarity, then again it may enhance the confusion factor as well.
    Such is the difficulty when speaking of the Tao, the words we may use are but a shallow reflection of the real thing; the True Tao is beyond direct human description - thus we resort to metaphor and even these attempts are found wanting. To me, the Tao is some nebulous "thing" that must be personally experienced to be understood.

    Second Verse Pair.
    The Tao is un-categorical. as soon as distinctions are drawn, even by so little as a thought, aspects of the Tao are separated from the "oneness" of the Tao and the number of these things is beyond infinite.
    "Wait a minute," one may say, "infinity is the largest number - there is no thing larger than infinity!"
    Which is of course a rational way of thinking. But I hasten to point out that the Tao is not part of a rational system and, thus, the concept of Tao contains all including an infinity of infinities. Now that should up the confusion factor quite a bit.

    References:
    1) Thomas Cleary
    1) Ursala K. Le Guin
     
  16. billzant

    billzant New Member

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    Dear Brian,

    Where is the main site?

    Hope you are keeping well,

    All the Best

    Bill Z
     
  17. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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  18. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    There is no direct link from the forum main page that I can see....should there not be one? I, like several others I believe, did not even know it existed for a long long time.

    tao
     
  19. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    The site is still being redeveloped, so I'll try and get something set up. :)
     
  20. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    You can get there by clicking on the big "interfaith" graphic in the upper left corner of the forum page. :)
     

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