Tao and God

Discussion in 'Tao' started by iBrian, Mar 7, 2004.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Have far can it be read that the Tao can be equated with God?

    By that I don;t mean the "human personality" of God as some viewpoints would have God - as much as the deeper, more abstract, "God as an unknown" perception.

    Does it really make sense to equate Tao with the Concept of God to some degree? Or is the entire matter of a relationship one of semantics, and therefore meaningless?
     
  2. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    At some level everything is a matter of semantics and therefore meaningless. :D But that doesn't mean that we should just disregard everything...or does it? :confused:
    At any rate, here's my take on the question. If Tao is to be thought of as God, then yes, certainly it is not a personal type of being like the Benevolent Grandfather image of God that some Christians subscribe to. And it's not Shiva or Krishna, either--like Brian said, it's an impersonal type of God, like the amorphous and impossible-to-get-your-rational-mind-around concept of Brahma. It's also similar to Nirvana, which isn't a God so much as the Ultimate State of Things. Tao is also the Ultimate State of Things, ever present but elusive. I think this word elusive is key.
    To me, Tao seems very playful, always running away from people when they think they are close to it. It doesn't seem to be available so much by a systematic approach, as in Hindu or Buddhist meditation, but seems to be spontaneously occuring. You just suddenly get it in a flash of insight, and you're not sure why or where it came from--BAM! It hits you. And then it giggles and dissolves back into ordinary reality. Again, it seems elusive, unable to be held. In this way it seems to share some qualities with Zen.
    Like I said, this is just my take on it, and is surely limited. I think that there are methods and techniques that ancient Taoists used, like Taoist alchemy. But those things, to me, seem like hollow and superficial rituals that aim at the goal but somehow miss the point. And Tao, like Zen, seems to be to me all about getting the point, those sudden epiphanies.
    Anyhow, I don't think I even came close to answering the question. Is Tao God or can it be likened to God? Hm. If I were to compare Tao to God, then God would have to be a prankster atheist God. :D My kind of guy.
     
  3. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    You know, the more I think about my answer posted above, the more I think it is wrong. It's not an answer so much as my opinion or my perspective, which has been shaped by my experience.

    When I read that now, I think, of course I would think that, because that's how I have experienced the Tao or God or whatever you want to call it. It hasn't been through any of my own efforts that I've glimpsed it, but more through grace or luck. Anyhow, I guess what I am saying is that my post about the Tao being like a playful prankster God isn't so much a proper answer to the question of "Can Tao be equated with God?" as much as it is my take on God in general.

    Anyone care to respond to Brian's question with a more appropriate answer? :D
     
  4. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste all,


    well... this is actually a difficult question to get to the heart of, in my opinion.

    i'll presume for the sake of our discussion that the readers are familiar with the term Tao and what it means.

    the real big issue in this discussion, in my view, is that we must keep in mind that our words do not accurately describe what the Tao is. "The name that can be named is not the eternal name". this short-circuts the intellectual process of conceptualizing the Tao or God, if you perfer that term, by reminding us (and this is done throughout Taoist literature) that our names are approximiations and nothing more.

    to say that the Tao = God i think that we'd need to define what we are speaking about to some degree... keeping in mind the above strictures.

    in the most abstract way, i suppose that we could say that Tao = God.. however, i'm reluctant to adovcate such a thing due to how the Tao is understood by the Chinese. the traditional Chinese world view is that of Li, or "organic pattern". this is described as the markings in jade, the grain in wood and the sinew in muscle, the foam of the surf on the sand, things of this nature. in any event, the whole of the cosmos is seen as a unified, organic, whole.

    perhaps it would more closely correlate with the concept of MahaBrahma of the Indian view of God rather than a more personalized view of God.
     
  5. Zazen

    Zazen New Member

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    hmm

    its like this tao = omnipresent (gods omnipresent)

    tao beyond words and intellectualizations (transcendental of mundane reality, beyond dualisms)

    therefore, it cannot be that this is true

    "in any event, the whole of the cosmos is seen as a unified, organic, whole."

    the tao is seen as a universal spread of cosmic energy, which is where the omnipresence comes in..

    and also the philosophy of the tao being the origin of all the many 10,000 myriad things etc

    the personalized god vs the tao arguement is just a matter of superficial understanding of what is being discussed, really the way people express themselves isnt as important to me as to what they are expressing, the truth behind most religions at their highest level of enlightenment really are the same

    amitabha
     
  6. tom

    tom New Member

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    hi all,
    actually tao cannot be term as god as tao is just one of the religion
    that was founded by one of the great master.even buddha was not a god
    but founded the religion which the follower call themself buddhist and
    the practice is buddhism and same as tao - taoist-taoism.as far as i know
    taoist never worship gods that name tao but other gods name such as
    god of mercy,god of prosperity and so on so in this case the tao doesnt equal to god.

    wisdom preacher
     
  7. Zazen

    Zazen New Member

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    hmm

    so if i believe in "god" even though lets say im protestant im supposed to be running around calling myself what? a "Godling" or something?

    tao is just a name, god is just a name it doesnt accurately describe anything

    what is god? what is tao? you cant put into words the answer to these questions, no amount of intellecualizations can

    christ on the other hand names something, as does krishna, but thats still just a manifestation of this world and another means of describing the undescribable

    amitabha
     
  8. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    Tao is tao. God is Tao which we see through the projection of our own selves. This is why we see God as human-like.
     
  9. Zazen

    Zazen New Member

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    actually

    actually the reason we see god as "human like" is because god made man in his image, and because everything we experience originates from god, therefore everything that is "human like"(or of man) is not distinguishable as unique or seperate of god, because god is the wellspring

    amitabha
     
  10. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste zazen,

    thank you for the post.

    that is one view, to be sure. Taoism supports a theistic flavor as well, fellows like the Jade Emperor and the 8 Dragon Kings and so forth, though this isn't as widely practiced in modern times as it used to be. Philosophical Taoism, by contrast, still appears to be as vibrant today as it was in classical times.

    it sounds like you are postulating a Brahma conception of deity that is commonly found in Hindu thought, would that be accurate to say?
     
  11. Zazen

    Zazen New Member

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    zazen tzu

    "actually the reason we see god as "human like" is because god made man in his image, and because everything we experience originates from god, therefore everything that is "human like"(or of man) is not distinguishable as unique or seperate of god, because god is the wellspring"

    i wrote this, in response to this;

    "Tao is tao. God is Tao which we see through the projection of our own selves. This is why we see God as human-like."

    when i say "actually the reason we see god as "human like" i simply mean "we" as in human beings(ie those that adopt the idea of God as a father figure, or as a superior being)

    again, this is just another way of describeing what is undescribeable

    "that is one view, to be sure. Taoism supports a theistic flavor as well, fellows like the Jade Emperor and the 8 Dragon Kings and so forth, though this isn't as widely practiced in modern times as it used to be. Philosophical Taoism, by contrast, still appears to be as vibrant today as it was in classical times."

    for one thing i wouldnt personally make it a habit to say taoism supports anything, your right of course about the theistic aspect of taoist practice but its merely just that..a particular practice, it really doesnt or didnt define taoism, infact nothing really does define taoism thats why there are so many different methods of spiritual cultivation found in this system

    because really thatd just be like saying taoism supports ritual sex as a means of merging with the tao

    infact, really the only defineing characteristic i can think of that can be associated with all schools of taoism would be meditation

    "it sounds like you are postulating a Brahma conception of deity that is commonly found in Hindu thought, would that be accurate to say?"

    im postulating universal truth. like if i were to say, "krishna is the tao" itd be the same to say "the way is the way"

    the method used to describe a certain experience is nothing compared to the actual experience, therefore if were to say i train "wu ji" i dont mean it literally i mean it metaphysically

    amitabha
     
  12. tom

    tom New Member

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    god is someone that already have acheive certain level of enlightment
    and we can always refer them as god or our master if we follow their
    teaching thus we cannot affiliate ourself as godling as we havent achieve any enlightment yet.

    wisdom preacher
     
  13. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    So our sins and faults, or at least our propensity for them are consistent with God's? Hold the phone! So why is God perfect and we aren't?

    Makes much more sense that we see him through who we are. We do that anyway. Projection is a recognised psychological phenomena.

    I have intense personal experience with it. When tripping on psychedelics, you see the world as you are, you see faces in rocks and tree's, a projection of your own self, (just like you see faces in clouds.)
    You just have to look hard.

    Compassion is a good example. We see our own suffering in others. If we didn't, we would feel nothing for others' suffering.

    Old world cultures (which readily used psychedelics) attribute human characteristics to worldly things. The spirit of the trees, of the animals. Children do this as well. With rational thinking, we smother these ideas in favour of consensus reality.
    It's not wrong that we would see ourselves in other things, it just is.
     
  14. Zazen

    Zazen New Member

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    word

    in taoism its said that to a perfect man, everything is right under heaven.

    amitabha
     
  15. samabudhi

    samabudhi New Member

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    Exactly!

    Not that men are all perfect under heaven, but that everything is perfect to a perfect man.
    So I would say that to an humanly man, everything is humanly under heaven. It doesn't mean it is, it just means that's how we see things.
     
  16. robocombot

    robocombot Disciple

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    To me it would seem that God is more than can be explained in words, but words can encompass all that we 'need' to know of God (inspired scripture). The words in scripture describe Gods 'relationship' with mankind.

    But the Tao could be the "impossible-to-get-your-rational-mind-around concept" of God - to me the Tao te Ching does not claim to capture the Tao in words.

    :confused:
     
  17. Vajradhara

    Vajradhara One of Many

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    Namaste robocombot,

    thank you for the post.

    you are correct in your view that the Tao that can be Tao'ed is not the Eternal Tao.

    however, i would be very hesitant to posit that this is God due to the vastly different ontological views of the Semetic traditions and traditional Chinese views, of course that is just my view.
     
  18. Master Vigil

    Master Vigil New Member

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    Since both terms need to be defined first, and since Tao cannot be defined, I can see that the comparison cannot be complete. If we think of how the chinese see things, and the way western thought sees things. We can see that they are not the same ideas. But to me, I believe god is just a concept in human minds, and since everything is a part of tao, the human concept of tao is also a part of tao. I see this however, to be a futile comparison.
     
  19. TaoEmily

    TaoEmily New Member

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    What are the Taoists concept of God?
    Reply A.S.A.P
     
  20. Master Vigil

    Master Vigil New Member

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    That is a difficult question Emily. We first have to look at the concept of Tao. Since taoists don't have a concept like the western idea of god. Tao is the unknowable, inconceivable force that causes everything, and is everything. It is like emptiness, untouchable yet it defines the material. Like a bowl, the bowl is ok, but without the empty part inside of it it isn't useful. A wheel is only useful because of the hole in center. Think of the force from star wars, and your on the right path. I hope that helped a little.
     

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