LaoTzu2

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Published on December 4, 2007

Author: Kestrel

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Lao Tzu* (6th century BC?) and the:  Lao Tzu* (6th century BC?) and the Dao De Jing (Dow Duh Jing) *Also known as Laotse, Laozi, Lao-Zi, Li Erh, Li Tan, & Lao Tan. 6/25/06 (The Book of the Way and Its Power) According to tradition, Lao Tzu (“The Old Boy”):  According to tradition, Lao Tzu (“The Old Boy”) was born in 604 BC in the Chu Province, had a long career as the royal historian-librarian-archivist in the Chou capital of Lo-yang, & (after becoming disillusioned as a result of the increasing decline of the Chou dynasty) left China for Tibet or India late in the 6th (or perhaps early in the 5th) century BC. Before leaving, however, he recorded his philosophical insights in a short book, the Dao De Jing (also known as the Lao Tzu), which is one of the foundational classics of “Philosophical Daoism.” A second major primary source of Philosophical Daoism is:  A second major primary source of Philosophical Daoism is The Book of Chuang Tzu, by Chuang Tzu (also known as Chuang Chou, Zhuang-Zi) (c. 369-286 BC) Daoism is both:  Daoism is both a philosophy & a religion. Leading ideas in Daoist thought:  Leading ideas in Daoist thought Vision of Reality (metaphysics) Ontology/Cosmology The DAO Chi (Ch'I, Qi) De Yin/Yang The natural order (the universe & all things in it) Theology - gods & spirits Anthropology - human nature & the human predicament Values: Ethics & Political Philosophy Slide7:  TAO DOW DAO Slide8:  “a metaphysical first principle that embraces and underlies all being, a vast Oneness that precedes and in some mysterious manner generates the endlessly diverse forms of the world . . . . [U]nknowable as the tao may be in essence, one must somehow learn to sense its presence and movement in order to bring one’s own life and movements into harmony with it. The aim of the text . . . is to impart to the reader, through hints, symbols, and paradoxical utterances, such an intuitive grasp of the tao and the vital ability to move with it rather than counter to it.” (Burton Watson) Chi (Ch'i, Qi):  Chi (Ch'i, Qi) Primordial, arises from the Dao Vital matter and energy All things (other than Dao and Chi itself) composed of Chi – the basic "stuff" substance of nature De (“Duh”):  De (“Duh”) “denotes a moral power or virtue characteristic of a person who follows the correct course of conduct . . . . [In Daoism], te is the virtue or power that one acquires through being in accord with the tao, what one ‘gets’ from the tao.” (Burton Watson) Slide11:  The power (De) of the DAO is expressed in the cosmos in accordance with the Yin/Yang principle. The cosmos (universe, nature):  The cosmos (universe, nature) is an ever-changing expression & blend of Yin and Yang, full of the power (De) of the DAO. - Ontology/Cosmology - DAO - Chi (Ch'I, Qi) - DE - Yin/Yang - The natural order Daoist metaphysics, continued Slide14:  The DAO is the highest reality. It is the Ground of Being; but it is not “God” or “a god.” It is the absolutely transcendent and incomprehensible Source of the natural world (the universe). The DAO is beyond sensation, beyond thought, beyond imagination, beyond words, etc. It is knowable only through direct mystical experience or intuition. Gods, good spirits, and demons exist as expressions of the power (De) of the DAO. These spiritual powers can be accessed and harnessed through various magical rituals. Daoist theology (Daoist metaphysics, continued) Philosophical Anthropology - The Daoist perspective on human nature & the human predicament:  Philosophical Anthropology - The Daoist perspective on human nature & the human predicament Humanity is merely one of the “Den Thousand Things” manifested in nature, one animal species among others. However, human beings (unlike other animals) have the power of free choice. This enables them to act contrary to nature (contrary to the DAO), to become alienated from the “Way.” Humans can choose to separate themselves from the natural order, and they can pursue things they want in addition to things they need. This leads to an unnatural existence filled with various kinds of pain & suffering. The solution to the human predicament:  The solution to the human predicament Back to nature; back to the DAO. The practice of wu-wei (non-ado, effortless action, action without friction & conflict, swimming with the current) -- the simple, natural life. Go with the flow. Chill out. (Daoist metaphysics/anthropology, continued) Ethical Doctrines (guidelines for right conduct):  Ethical Doctrines (guidelines for right conduct) Tune in to De (the power of DAO), & follow the DAO. Practice wu-wei (non-ado). Follow the path of least resistance (like water does); practice relaxed action through yielding. Avoid self-assertion & competition; practice humility & non-combativeness. Disdain worldly prizes. “The way to do is to be.” Other specific ethical principles the same as in Confucianism, but with an individualistic & non-political emphasis. On the religious side of Daoism,:  On the religious side of Daoism, There is major interest in conserving, increasing, &/or gaining control over De & its vital energy (chi). There are numerous rituals aimed at the veneration of the gods & good spirits & at placation of & protection from demons. There are also magical & occult practices (oracles, divination, astrology, mediumism, healing rites, etc.) aimed at gaining control over the powers of nature (De). The concern with increasing the supply of De’s vital energy (chi) is expressed in practices involving diet & nutrition, pharmacology & folk medicine (including acupuncture), and yoga-like concentration on the inner self (sexual experiments, breathing exercises, tai chi chuan & other martial arts, & control of the mind through meditation techniques). Daoists also believe that DAO-Masters who have realized a surplus of chi can radiate from themselves a healing & harmonious psychic influence to the communities in which they live. Daoist Political Philosophy (an application of wu-wei):  Daoist Political Philosophy (an application of wu-wei) Limited government & a laid-back prince -- a kind of libertarianism? (See the DDJ’s many passages on government, political leadership, warfare, social & economic policy, etc.) The philosophical content of the Dao De Jing::  The philosophical content of the Dao De Jing: DAO Yin & Yang & the principle of reversal Non-ado (wu-wei) The DAO-Master (the Daoist hero) Seeking the DAO & living in the DAO How to live Meditation Emptiness Anti-Confucianism Political philosophy Lao Tzu says that his teachings are derived from an ancient system of principles & that they are easy to understand & to put into practice,:  Lao Tzu says that his teachings are derived from an ancient system of principles & that they are easy to understand & to put into practice, but that no one understands & practices them. (DDJ 70) He also says::  He also says: Many consider my teaching to be nonsense. But the profound is a lot like nonsense. If a teaching does not seem nonsensical, then it must be trivial. Characteristics of the DAO:  Characteristics of the DAO Indefinable Unnamable The source of both reality & appearance Empty, but never used up; always available Hidden, but always present Older than the gods Invisible, inaudible, intangible The One Appears in countless forms; given countless names Without form, but complete The Mother of all things Silent. Empty. Independent. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternal.:  Silent. Empty. Independent. Unchanging. Infinite. Eternal. Creator of all things Present in all things Returns all things to their origin (nothingness, no-thing-ness?) Does not contend, but it prevails; does not speak, but it answers; is not called, but it responds; has no purpose, but it achieves all of its aims When you seek it, you find it. Yin/Yang & the Principle of Reversal:  Yin/Yang & the Principle of Reversal DDJ 2a Yin/Yang bipolarity DDJ 22 Reversal DDJ 28a Yin/Yang balance DDJ 36 Reversal DDJ 40 Reversal & Yielding DDJ 42 Yin/Yang & Reversal Wu-wei (non-ado):  Wu-wei (non-ado) Therefore, the Dao-Master acts with non-ado & teaches without speaking. Things come & go. He lets them come & go. He creates, but he does not own. He achieves, but he takes no credit. He completes his work & then forgets about it. Practice non-ado, & your accomplishments endure. Other wu-wei passages:  Other wu-wei passages DDJ 10b (non-ado as non-action) DDJ 10c (non-ado & virtue) DDJ 29 (letting go & letting be) DDJ 43 (soft/hard) DDJ 44 (knowing when enough is enough) DDJ 48 (letting be) DDJ 76 (softness & flexibility vs. hardness & stiffness) The DAO-Master:  The DAO-Master Thoughts of a Dao-Master:  Thoughts of a Dao-Master Characteristics of the DAO-Master:  Characteristics of the DAO-Master Detached Selfless Cautious Alert Courteous Yielding Undefined Open Murky Quiet Calm & unperturbed Good to people who are good Good to people who are not good Trusts those who are trustworthy Trusts those who are not trustworthy Radiates peace & harmony Passages describing the DAO-Master:  Passages describing the DAO-Master DDJ 7b (detachment) DDJ 15 (general description) DDJ 24 (disgusting things) DDJ 26 (not swept away) DDJ 45 (seems vs. is) DDJ 49 (radiator) DDJ 63 (The T-M’s M.O.) DDJ 64 (ditto) DDJ 67b (virtues) DDJ 71 (Socratic wisdom) DDJ 81 (truth, goodness, wisdom, non-ado) (Look at underlined passages?) Slide33:  (DDJ 41) Slide34:  (DDJ 23) How to Live (Ethical Prescriptions):  How to Live (Ethical Prescriptions) DDJ 8 DDJ 9* DDJ 12* DDJ 33* DDJ 52* DDJ 56* It is good to be like water. It nourishes without effort. It flows without contention into low places that people scorn. Thus, it is like the Dao. In dwelling, live close to the land. In thinking, go deep. In relating to others, be gentle. In governing, seek good order and justice. In acting, be skillful. In working, do all things at the right time. No contention, no strife. The Value of Emptiness & Non-Being:  The Value of Emptiness & Non-Being Lao-Tzu’s Anti-Confucianism:  Lao-Tzu’s Anti-Confucianism DDJ 18 DDJ 19 DDJ 38 Down with kindness & morality, intelligence & learning, family values, industry & profit, clinging to power, activism, virtue, justice, & propriety! Lao-Tzu’s Political Philosophy:  Lao-Tzu’s Political Philosophy DDJ 3 (Daoist rule) DDJ 17 (types of rulers) DDJ 28b (uncarved wood) DDJ 30 (war) DDJ 31 (weapons) DDJ 32 (dividing & naming) DDJ 46 (enough is enough) DDJ 53 (social criticism) DDJ 57 (keep it simple) DDJ 58 (limited govt.) DDJ 60 (large country, small fish) DDJ 61 (yielding) DDJ 65 (enlightening the people) DDJ 66 (low profile) DDJ 68 (non-contending) DDJ 69 (war) DDJ 74 (death penalty) DDJ 75 (limited govt.) DDJ 77 (social policy) DDJ 78 (water) Slide41:  (DDJ 80) Self:  Self

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