Tao and God

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

  1. earl

    earl ?

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    Reminds me of one of the typically inscrutable, yet simple replies that the late founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, Shunryu Suzuki, would give questioners on topics related to Zen teachings: "Not necessarily so." Good to see you back/around Paladin.:) Earl
     
  2. earl

    earl ?

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    If you tell me there's a God, 1 smack with the kyusaku stick. If you tell me there's no God, 1 smack with the stick:D How do you realize God while walking the Tao-Way? Have a good one, earl;)
     
  3. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Very good post. So good infact I was almost tempted to agree with it!! But I have read the thread through a few times since then, had time to let the dough of my thoughts rise etc.

    So with respect for what you have said I would say that the differences between Eastern and Western thoughts are not at all different. We are all Humanity and the Tao/G_d existed well in advance of us.

    I had a partner once, she was a skilled illustrator/artist. Part of the reason we never worked out was that we never saw the same thing. She saw that which made things different, I saw that which connected one thing to another. I would humbly suggest you are of her type of nature.

    I believe that Tao and G_d are one and the same. Just as the Tao is fundamentaly unknowable, ungraspable by our feeble capacities so is G_d. The difference between the Tao and monotheistic 'G_d' is more akin to the difference between science and religion than between two distinct religions. Tao is in other words more a science, a way to understand our inability to define and express G_d, where as religion is a way to pay homage to the principle. But at the very core G_d must conform to the Tao, or G_d is the Tao. I think both are true.

    Kind regards

    David
     
  4. China Cat Sunflower

    China Cat Sunflower Nimrod

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    Well, I'm afraid I'll have to agree with you both! If you strip God down to his undershorts it looks a lot like the ungraspable no-thing that the Tao represents. But I think that the Title God has too much baggage to represent the "suchness" that Jii is referrring to. That said, I very often borrow the term God and use it for conveneince to mean what is essentially, in my mind, the Tao.

    Chris
     
  5. AletheiaRivers

    AletheiaRivers New Member

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    Yup. Me too. Although I do believe God is "personal," (meaning that I do not think God is impersonal). Heh. Makes sense. :rolleyes:
     
  6. jiii

    jiii ...

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    It has been a while since I've looked at this thread, and I've noticed that one of my entries was quoted a few times with some further commentary. I feel compelled to add some notes based on these further discussions.

    Firstly, 'cavalier' mentioned my post in the context of 'westerner bashing', which is far from the point I was making. I never put down Westerners as a group, as a collective consciousness, as a society, or anything else for that matter. My point was simple: Westerners are notorious for attempting to understand world religion through the framework of Christianity, rather than approaching such things with a mind open to a faith or spiritual doctrine that may be totally unfamiliar in anything but its distant philosophical implications. This is not even a bad thing, necessarily, unless one's goal is to understand a religion in its original light. People tend to forget that so much writing about Eastern religion such as Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism are really best understood as philosophical investigations. They yield, as I mentioned in my old post, profound grounds for a comparative understanding. However, it is a mistake to confuse these almost purely conceptual philosphies based on religious practices with the religion itself.

    'Cavalier' also mentioned my comment that follows: 'The ideal Christian world, in a traditional sense that is, is a world where everyone practices Christianity.' This is a simple case of the use of loose language and generalization, which must be allowed for when discussing topics so broad and general as 'Does God equate to Tao?'. What I was referring to with that statement was the general attitude toward dissemination in Christian religion as opposed to most Eastern traditions. Taoists show little interest at any point in history of attempting to convert, recruit, or in any way actively seek out adherents. This attitude is nearly unheard of in Taoism. Conversely, Christianity takes a certain amount of fulfillment in spreading God's word. Missions to do so have been going on all over the world for hundreds of years. If 'cavalier' considers this point to be bogus, or to be insulting to Christians, I am lost for a reason as to how that is so. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with either inclination.

    Furthermore, it should go without saying that there are obviously many Christians that this attitude of spreading one's faith certainly does not appeal to. But, they are either in the relative minority or their viewpoint has not yet been absorbed by the mainstream religion, and thus prominent features of the Catholic/Christian faith, in general, do not correspond to MANY adherent individuals' perspectives. This is inevitable. Not every individual adherent in the world can be taken into account when discussing religion. There is simpy too much variation. Does this mean our answer will, in turn, be just as general? Yes. But, again, that is to be expected...this is a VERY general question we are talking about here.

    Finally, it is true that Christianity and Taoism have something in common outside their both being religions, but this is a tricky point. Christianity came to be called Christianity, in the first place, to distinguish itself from other religious and philosophical views. The same can reasonably be said about using the term Taoism (though, there are many types of Taoism that are different from each other, an in-depth exploration of these types is outside the scope of this topic). We are talking about terms that are used to separate these religious traditions from others...terms that are SUPPOSED to highlight the differences between them so that we might be able to tell them apart with certainty. In that respect, Tao is NOT God.

    'Tao Equus' mentioned: 'I believe that Tao and God are one and the same. Just as the Tao is fundamentaly unknowable, ungraspable by our feeble capacities so is God.' Indeed, this is a perceptive sentiment. But again, this correspondence doesn't mean that 'God' and 'Tao' are the same simply because they both aren't purportedly graspable. Many things aren't graspable...air is not graspable, 'pi' is not graspable, Confucius' jen is not graspable (he refused to ever define it). For that matter, Bertrand Russel, in his book 'The Problems of Philosophy', went into great detail demonstrating that even the 'reality' of a simple wooden table was completely ungraspable and mysterious. If everything that is ungraspable is to be called equivalent to Tao and to God, then ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING is Tao AND God, simultaneously. Of course, people that are purists of these religions, in any sense, will hotly debate this topic, and with good cause. The bottom line is, if everything is God, then God is no longer monotheistic...he becomes a strange pantheistic ('pagan') deity. Taoism, for that matter, becomes a religion that irresponsibly ignores the definite and concrete existence of a divine creator. These comparative conclusions create far-reaching, contradictory implications that obliterate the uniqueness of the two different religions, and deny them them their character. This assumption reduces all things characteristically Christian or Taoist to a homogenous, palatable dust so that we can consume them without having to pick through strange lumps. But this kind of disintegration of the uniqueness of each religion is simply unnecessary, and works mostly to obscure and suppress the living, breathing spirit of actual adherents of Christianity and Taoism.

    There is, nonetheless, a world where God and Tao are the same thing...it is the world that exists when nobody is trying to determine if God and Tao are the same thing. The prescence of Taoists in the world in no way inherently encroaches on the prescence of Christians in the world, and vice versa. The two are the same not in that ANYTHING concerning their beliefs 'matches'. Rather, these beliefs, which are specific to each religion, were created for the purpose of elaborating how that particular religion was different, and for illuminating the unique characteristics of each that make it worthy of being a stand-alone religion. Christian teachings elaborate the Christian view, Taoist teachings elaborate the Taoist view. Rather, these two are the same in that they grew out of the same ungraspable Universe, and the same green planet.

    Are the lilies of Matthew 6:28 the same flowers as the revered cherry tree blossoms in the Asia? No, they are comletely different. Lillies don't have cherries, one is a tree and the other is a plant, they have totally different distributions, different appearances, different growth rates, require different conditions, and live for different amounts of time.

    A lilly is NOT a cherry tree...no matter how you cut it. There is no unity there, at least not to the naked eye or the grasping mind. Unity can only be realized when it is seen that both cherry blossoms and lilies grow out of the same blue and green sphere of water and soil we call Earth. Thus, their unity is not implied by their name or by categorizing or philosophizing about them. Their unity is the silence in which one considers them before they have been sequestered from each other as denomial entities which are bound to express them in a mutually-exclusive light, therefore creating the illusory proposition that a reconciliation is required between the two. Such a reconciliation cannot be reached, because the religious entities it seeks to enjoin are already united in this world. All additional efforts are mostly just so many philosophical growths upon their surface, clumsily trying to form conceptual bridges between the two.

    So, in closing, I will say this: if Tao and God can be equated, in would be a shame to say so. This is because if there is any relevance in speaking about that which is ungraspable, it is in that of the ungraspable and completely unspoken unity of two completely different spiritual traditions that grew out of the same globe of soil.
     
  7. Blizzardry

    Blizzardry Atheist Messiah

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    I'm going to risk a couple of whacks of the stick here :)

    Nobody made this stuff up. Nobody sat down and thought "I know a good idea for a religion". This is the stuff of experience. Abraham talked with God, Moses met him in the desert, the heavens were opened and Jesus remembered who he was and God spoke to him. Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster and all the ancient Chinese sages and hindu Buddhas, the prophets of small religions and all of them, really, actually had an experience of something bigger than they were calling them friend, or son, or at least being personal to them in particular.

    When we feel a presence, be it unconditional love raining from the heavens, or the Kundalini shooting us up to heaven, or doves coming down, or magical transportations to Mecca, we tend to personalise the experience as a Sky Father, or an Earth Mother, or an Eternal Oneness, or being awakened to the illusory nature of reality because that's what it feels like.

    Different cultures, different mythologies, but it all comes down to something. You felt something in there (or out there) that changed your life, cleansed you of sin, guilt or bad karma, gave you a path to walk towards and a responsibility to the common man or zeal to preach the good news you've found, or set your people free. Congratulations, you are now a sage, prophet, born-again, rebirthing buddha shaman healer, guru or whatever.

    At any rates, you've found the way, the truth and the light. I am a person, so the Tao is a person, so God is a person. If not, then not. Probably both. I really don't think Christianity's origins are that different to Taoism. The message to live by are almost identical. It's just the dogmatic explanations of the experience that are different.

    But I'm just a solipsist, so I can believe everything anyway...
     
  8. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

    what a thought. and what questions. what style does God prefer? what size? which shop? why? how? I need to lie down.....

    s.
     
  9. Blizzardry

    Blizzardry Atheist Messiah

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    They may even be Calvinist Kleins... Or "Why" fronts?
     
  10. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


    s.
     
  11. Ciel

    Ciel in essence

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    Am reminded of a favourite Bobby Dylan quote........

    Even the president of the united states sometimes must stand naked....

    - c -

    :)
     
  12. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Ciel,

    now I just feel nauseous.

    s.
     
  13. MeditationMom

    MeditationMom New Member

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    How about this?

    God is God

    Tao is Tao

    There is no God,
    But God

    There is no Tao,
    But Tao

    If I watch deeply within myself when I think the word "God", I feel something different than when I think the word "Tao".

    When both "God" and "Tao" disappear, they are the same.
     
  14. DrumR

    DrumR New Member

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    Just my Tao_pence worth...

    Examine the introductions of the Tao Teh Ching and the Genesis chapter of the Bible (KJV), primarily the first few sentences, and it is from this point that I do not find a "scriptural" relationship that would support Tao = God. Far from it, the relationship may be paraphrased as:

    "In the Beginning was the Tao and all was right and proper. Then this "God-thing" precipitated from the Tao and started the process of separating and categorizing other "things" which resulted in the destructive distillation of all things Tao."

    But then again it could be just as easily said <insert something here>.
    :cool:
     

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