1. Joined
    01 Dec '04
    Moves
    4640
    30 May '05 05:541 edit
    A thread for discussion/analysis of this source text of Taoism. Written around 500 BC in China by "Lao Tzu", though this name simply means "old man" and no corroborating evidence for his existence has been found. But the book most certainly exists.

    ********************

    Chapter 1.

    The tao that can be described
    is not the eternal Tao.
    The name that can be spoken
    is not the eternal Name.

    The nameless is the boundary of Heaven and Earth.
    The named is the mother of creation.

    Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery.
    By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real.

    Yet mystery and reality
    emerge from the same source.
    This source is called darkness.

    Darkness born from darkness.
    The beginning of all understanding.

    *************

    Lao Tzu frequently points toward the "negative", that is, the "nameless", the "desireless", "darkness", etc. My understanding of this is that he is teaching us to let go of conceptual attachments -- what we have been conditioned with, what we "think we know", our righteousness, etc. He is pointing toward the importance of learning how to clear the mind by releasing our rigid fixations to our familiar intellectual reference points. His path to enlightenment is very much one of "unlearning", you might say.

    A famous Zen parable -- a scholar visits a Zen master. As the scholar begins to share his knowledge, the Zen master pours him some tea. The scholar goes on and on about what he knows. The Zen master continues pouring the tea. Soon, the tea is overflowing onto the floor, but the Zen master keeps pouring.

    "What are you doing?" asks the scholar, thinking maybe the Zen master is crazy. "The cup is already full."

    The Zen master stops pouring, and replies, "So is your mind. You are so full of your own certainty, that there is no room for wisdom."

    Much of Oriental philosophy is concerned with this "emptying out" process. In point of fact it's not really a process of "forgetting" what you know or any such thing, more one of expanding awareness by learning to witness thoughts, learning to observe the mind without getting caught up into it. Such a practice has the potential to lead to less attachments and less desires -- less "clinging" in general. This can play out in many realms, both in our relationships with objects, with people, and with our own thoughts and conditioned beliefs.

    As Lao Tzu says...

    "Freed from desire, you can see the hidden mystery.
    By having desire, you can only see what is visibly real."

    "Desire" here is synonymous with "attachment". With less attachment, the "hidden mystery" (truth beyond the conditioned mind) is more knowable, and with more attachments, we can "see only what is visibly real", that is, we are limited to familiar, fixed reference points, the world we have been conditioned by society to see.
  2. Joined
    17 Jan '05
    Moves
    3242
    30 May '05 07:00
    Empty your cup
  3. Standard memberfrogstomp
    Bruno's Ghost
    In a hot place
    Joined
    11 Sep '04
    Moves
    7707
    30 May '05 10:31
    Originally posted by Metamorphosis
    A thread for discussion/analysis of this source text of Taoism. Written around 500 BC in China by "Lao Tzu", though this name simply means "old man" and no corroborating evidence for his existence has been found. But the book most certainly exists.

    ********************

    Chapter 1.

    The tao that can be described
    is not the eternal Tao.
    Th ...[text shortened]... mited to familiar, fixed reference points, the world we have been conditioned by society to see.
    the hole in a wheel
  4. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    30 May '05 16:37
    Behind all the makings of your mind,
    before all images, thoughts or words,
    can you find an “I” that is not a thought—
    just another making of your mind?
  5. Joined
    01 Dec '04
    Moves
    4640
    31 May '05 08:23
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Behind all the makings of your mind,
    before all images, thoughts or words,
    can you find an “I” that is not a thought—
    just another making of your mind?
    Yes, good, and that really is the crux of the matter.

    When the "I" is presumed to be solid and continuous and unchanging, then suffering follows like clockwork. As Lao Tzu and Buddha taught (in different ways), suffering arises out of ignorance, and in specific the ignorance of believing that we are someone that we are not. That "someone that we are not" is what modern psychology calls the "ego", the part of the mind that identifies itself with things external to its own nature and erroneously concludes that these things are an extension of it, a process sometimes called "identification". These "things" can be objects, other people, ideologies, religions, etc. But because they are all impermanent, to identify with them sooner or later results in suffering when they change form, or other people do not appear to honor them or regard them in the way that we do.
  6. Hmmm . . .
    Joined
    19 Jan '04
    Moves
    22131
    31 May '05 17:48
    Originally posted by Metamorphosis
    Yes, good, and that really is the crux of the matter.

    When the "I" is presumed to be solid and continuous and unchanging, then suffering follows like clockwork. As Lao Tzu and Buddha taught (in different ways), suffering arises out of ignorance, and in specific the ignorance of believing that we are someone that we are not. That "someone that we ...[text shortened]... change form, or other people do not appear to honor them or regard them in the way that we do.
    Yes, and identification with the ego (what I sometimes call the “fabricated somebody-self” ) is an insidious illusion that we are taught from birth—and which is plugged into the surrounding illusive world. (NOTE: I distinguish between illusion—as something that is not as it seems, e.g. transient rather than substantial—and delusion—as something that is really not there at all. “Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form; but form is also form, and emptiness emptiness.” )
Back to Top