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  3. " Without existence entering without space between, I know non-action has the advantage ." The illusion of self, the sense that we have existence, makes wu wei (无为) elusive. The result of surrendering to one's duty gradually dilutes that illusion by being replaced by the duty, one's dharma. < Sanskrit: custom, duty, akin to dhārayati holds, maintains. Interesting how dharma is associated with "holds, maintains". That parallels the Taoist "constant". Constancy maintains, constancy holds to the way. The constant (cháng - 常 ): ordinary, normal; constant; invariable; usually. So, it is easy to see why constancy plays such a central role for Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu... probably all spiritual paths. Wu wei is the 'mountain peak' we seek, while our feet strive on 'here below'. Giving oneself to one's duty is a step further toward the "Without existence entering without space between". There lies the rub. The reward comes after you begin to "without existence enter without space between". To do that, one must 'give up control', so to speak. Giving up control goes against our survival instincts (especially in the hierarchical framework in which we live), e.g., more is better, strong wins, special trumps mundane, and so on. Oh, and let's not forget that overarching hunt & gather instinct. It 'constantly' drives us to look for greener pastures. That constancy, while a boom in nature's wild, becomes a serious obstacle to balance in civilization's circumstances. Hence, the cultural value civilizations place upon duty / dharma. The rub here lies in how duty easily becomes entangled with hierarchy.
  4. " Constancy is what helps gradually pull us into sanity and balance. I assume people often don't give their 'duty thing' enough time to notice the benefit, and so quit. One must invest enough time to reap the reward. " So true. It can be hard to see if what we're doing makes a difference, or enough of a difference to maintain the effort. On the other hand, if all of our actions are effortless actions (wu wei), doing our "duty thing" would be only natural.
  5. My thoughts after Sunday's discussion, continued along the lines of contrasting Taoist thought with Confucianism. Not because I think Confucianism is in anyway pertinent to our social context but because the same foundational concepts apply to our current social context. When thinking of Taoism I think of "seeking the truth inside of us". When thinking of Confucianism (not that I know very much about it) I think of "seeking the truth outside of us". This "seeking the truth outside of us" in my mind is clearly the dominate theme of our current social context. One is needed for our survival as individuals, but the other is needed for a more esoteric but no less important reason. The thing Carl sometimes refers to as our "sickness", I think of as our challenge in trying to bring these two different quests together in our lives. Or maybe that challenge is "The Way". If only we were hunter-gatherers, or animals, or toddlers, our quest would be easier. I have made choices in my life (I think most people have) that when looking back, I realize I would have been a lot wealthier, or a lot more comfortable or of a higher social status, if I had made a different choice. But I don't regret those choices, because I know those choices came from seeking the truth inside myself. It is a hard thing to define, probably undefinable. That's why we keep talking about it.
  6. Cheryl

  7. (This is longer than I’d hoped. If only I could distill it down to a pithy few lines. Oh, that’s right. The Tao Te Ching does that already.) A few words came up during the meeting that lingered for me to mull over: supplicant and surrender. Supplicant reminds me of disciple which brings up discipline. These all bring up the value of ‘duty’ mentioned in Buddha’s 4th truth. Seeing how these words share a similar root deepens the meaning. This brings me to the ‘conformity’ referred to in chapter 65 and ends with, To the outside world, contrary indeed. Then, and only then, reaching great conformity. Conformity refers me back to supplicate, surrender and discipline. Simply put, these all point to conformity to the way. Alas, that tells us next to nothing practical about how to deal with the day to day. How does one ‘reach great conformity’? All animals in the wild hunter-gatherer existence (except for people and domesticated animals) have their sole duty established by nature — circumstances and survival drives. Again, as Buddha put it, There is salvation for him whose self disappears before truth, whose will is bent on what he ought to do, whose sole desire is the performance of his duty. Circumstances compel animals to ‘have their will bent on what they ought to do’. Their ‘sole desire is the performance of their survival duty’. We have lifted that burden of keeping our noses to the survival grindstone. Circumstances no long compel us to have our will bent on what we ought to do. Often we don’t know what we ought to do. In the end, the circumstances we find ourselves in can make it very difficult to feel natural, whole, and balance. The cultural voices in the outside world clamor for our attention… for our conformity, supplication, and discipline. They promise us happy solutions. All the cultural voices of the outside world are not of Mother Nature, but rather simply outside world projections of folks touting the benefits of their particular ‘brew’. Those who believe one of these voices can find a niche in which to conform to an extent. The tipoff that it is a weak substitute for nature’s call lies in the conviction and fervency displayed by proponents of their ‘brew’. (Re: Symptoms Point Of View). The only answer I’ve found that works is to begin by taking a step, no matter how small, in a direction you suspect may become an action where your will can be bent on what you ought to do. This means your ‘duty’ will be what ever you make it, and you make it one step at a time. The direction toward the duty that fits this purpose lies against your personal grain, contrary to your worldly desires, as chapter 65 hints…. Always investigate the patterns. That is called profound moral character. Moral character, profound indeed, distant indeed! To the outside world, contrary indeed. Then, and only then, reaching great conformity Examples: If you tend to be late… being a little more on time can be your ‘duty’. If you are sedentary… a little more exercise can be your ‘duty’. If you shop a lot… a little less shopping can be your ‘duty’. If you eat to much… eating a little less can be your ‘duty’ … Ad nauseam Of course, all these are obvious, yet we easily fail at the precise route that could bring us more into balance with our selves. A balance which we came by more readily before we found a way to escape nature’s rules (escape… at least on the surface!). We fail because it is much easier to plan a way to live than it is to actually live the way. (See Free Will: Fact or Wishful Thinking?) It seems doing what we ought to do only comes about when we deeply realize there is no escape, and that we don’t know. Thinking that there is a way out of whatever difficulty we face only accentuates the difficulty. Re: Realizing I don’t’ know is better; not knowing this knowing is disease. To the outside world, contrary indeed. Then, and only then, reaching great conformity PS: I left out a critical aspect in the observation above — the necessity of constancy. Constancy is what helps gradually pulls us into sanity and balance. I assume people often don't give their 'duty thing' enough time to notice the benefit, and so quit. One must invest enough time to reap the reward. Here are some quotes about constancy, or as the good book puts it, "the constant". The way possible to think, runs counter to the constant way. The name possible to express runs counter to the constant name. … Ch. 1 Answering to one's destiny is called the constant; knowing the constant is called honest. … Ch. 16 Being a small stream for all under heaven, constant virtue will never leave you, Being a pattern for all under heaven, constant virtue will never be in error, Being a valley for all under heaven, constant virtue will be only then sufficient, … Ch. 28 The way constant is without name. … Ch. 32 Of the way respected and virtue valued; no one decrees, yet constant and natural. … Ch. 51 Use the light, and again return to clarity, not offer oneself misfortune. This serves as practicing of the constant. … Ch. 52 Knowing harmony is called the constant. Knowing the constant is called clear and honest. … Ch. 55 Nature’s way is without match, Constantly helping the charitable person. … Ch. 79
  8. Describing chapter 56's "profound sameness" has always been a hobby of mine. I guess you could call it a hobby. After all, I don't make any money from my philosophical musings. My daily yoga and tai chi at the beach clears out my mind nicely. The other day as I was biking home afterward, I got to contemplating the difference between "difference" and "sameness". It occurred to me that when I'm most tuned into "profound sameness", "profound difference" is also in view. My best description now is that feeling "profound sameness" is simply experiencing both sides of the coin simultaneously. Only feeling one or the other, sameness or difference, is emotionally skewed. By that I mean the view is serving one personal emotional agenda (bias). I've long felt that seeing difference was tantamount to seeing illusion: difference = illusion. On the other hand, seeing sameness was seeing things closer to reality: sameness = reality. That is how they correlate (see Tools of Taoist Thought: Correlations). I feel making a closer connection between "difference" and "sameness" comes closer to the truth, to reality. When you think about it, there can be no "sameness", profound or otherwise, without "difference". They are really two sides of the same coin. The "profoundness" occurs when you see/feel them both at once. It is like Schrodinger's quantum cat, both alive and dead, until observation causes one or the other to occur. Experiencing "profound sameness" is seeing the cat in it indeterminate quantum state, both alive and dead in a state of "profound sameness".
  9. Leslie

  10. Laurence

  11. fiddlefella

  12. Carl

  13. Luke

  14. Chapter 30

    Good thought too. You might consider the more literal Word for Word. You can also see the actual Chinese characters and their various synonyms. http://www.centertao.org/essays/tao-te-ching/carl/chapter-30/
  15. Chapter 30

    Something of this chapter seems to be missing. Being that I'm not one to counsel "rulers", I view it as "leaders" in the Western idea. I feel as though this chapter has a lot to do with Trust. One should not use force or strength to accomplish a goal. This will lead to lack of trust and smack that person back. Force, while immediately effective, causes resistance of the mind in the follower. Wherever conflict and force of hand arises, hard times and "weeds" follow. Weeds in the natural sense are plant growth that will overcome good fruit in a garden and are hard to both control and to remove. The weeds can overcome, crowd out, attract pests, and kill off the good fruit. The "good fruit" being trust, faith, happiness, serenity, etc. I feel that this chapter guides one to see that through force and anger, the "weeds" of failing trust, deceit, liars, and bad tempers will emerge and overcome good relationships. Thus these relationships will begin to fail. The bad years that follow, as the Tao puts it, seem to me to reference TIME as a necessary healer. Once trust is broken, many years may pass before relationships can be mended. The "weeds" of a bad decision will take effort and time to get rid of. Force and use of strength, in fact causes loss of strength, as relationships are broken, emotional defenses are built, and communication is cut. All in all, those that use force will meet an early end either in terms of respect, title, company, nation, relationship, or life. Just some thoughts.
  16. Excellent point. My shins take enough punishment already. Smooth curves is what I like.
  17. Hello everyone! I'll get the ball rolling here. These angles... why do we need these angles? After all, don't they cut our shins when we stumble on a rectangular table? Food for thought. #Visions! Kyle
  18. The question is, what is "the truth". Science comes closest, at least in truth that is logical and based in fact. Biological sciences, the life sciences, are especially useful. The myths of old answered our questions until science came of age. Myths were as close to truth as we could get. I suppose Buddha's Four Truths are a mix of both science and spiritual truth. His Fourth Truth, "There is salvation for him whose self disappears before truth" is a little puzzling until you nail down what "truth" might be. For me, the first three of his truths offer observations that zero in the overall truth that addresses the human condition quite scientifically, i.e., rationally, empirically, verifiably. The hitch here lies in the impossibility of teaching anyone truth. Like beauty, truth is in the eye of the beholder. The only thing that really makes spiritual truths worth contemplating seriously is the fact that these truths have been providing useful answers to generations of people. The test of time is a most accurate test. That said, it is also important to read between the lines, so to speak, to find the kernel of truth that jumps out at you. The kernel of truth that jumps out at you is actually what you already know intuitively but for which you have yet to find words. The idea that nothing true can be seen without looking within is more a spiritual truth. I don't see any way to prove it other than through personal experience, which means looking within. The necessity to look within for truth is especially difficult to achieve because we are such a social species. We are so easily influenced by the viewpoints of others. This Hidden Brain report sheds light on this: Researchers Examine When People Are More Susceptible To Fake News . (You may think of "fake news" as anything less than experience tested truth.)
  19. I sense that we intuitively 'know' much without being able to logically understand it, and that leaves us bewildered, curious, and such. I got to thinking in correlation-ese about this. Why is it so difficult to wrap our heads around the some things? Life ~ logical ~ limited ~ illusion... Death ~ intuitive ~ infinite ~ real... Here is what those correlations 'say': So as we are alive, we are instinctively driven to 'know' the mystery explicitly and logically. As it is not logical, we are easily stumped because the logical always ends in paradox when it hits mystery's 'event horizon'. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Event_horizon) Given this dynamic, I realize that scripture appeals to both our intuitive sense of reality, and our logical 'illusions', especially the sense that the illusion of self, "I", is capable of control. That scripture validates that free will is essential, otherwise no one would value it. The promise of power over our self is irresistible. That scripture supports what we intuitively know imparts profound 'street cred'. Perhaps chapter 65 hints at this... Of ancients adept in the way, none ever use it to enlighten people,They will use it in order to fool them. Bringing our intuitive 'pre-knowledge' forward into explicit knowledge that we can act upon is possible if we tune out some of the distractions, hustle and bustle of modern life. Listen to this Hidden Brain report on what they call 'deep work', You 2.0: The Value Of 'Deep Work' In An Age Of Distraction.
  20. My posts on the Centertao chronicle the final decade in my life’s journey of discover — my effort to ‘figure it all out’. I truly feel the final post, The Tradeoff, is as far as I can go. It ties up all the loose ends, so to speak. It is my ‘magnum opus’, yet, I still see things worth passing on, hence this Forum.
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