Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Taoism


Photo from Photobucket

1. The Force

Consider Luke Skywalker and how Obi-wan Kenobi taught him about "the Force".

Luke had to avoid being distracted by things like fear and anger. He had to learn about spontaneity.

On one occasion, Luke was trying, without success, to avoid laser blasts from a 'remote'.

When Obi-wan Kenobi placed a helmet on Luke's head so he couldn't be distracted, he easily deflected the remote's laser blasts.

The idea is that when you are aware of the 'Tao' and feel 'the force', you can flow with it, and the right action appears for itself, spontaneously.



Some Taoists and Christians and others believe that bliss can be achieved when:

1. one is compassionate

2. one is moderate

3. one is humble

4. everything is in balance

5. one is in tune with God or the Tao or whatever one wants to call it. One goes with the flow.

6. one avoids the use of force; one avoids pitting one’s will against the universe.

The Christians talk about God’s spirit. God nourishes us.

The Taoists talk about the Tao being a force that flows through everything. The Tao nourishes us.

3. The Tao and Yin and Yang:

When the Tao is in balance one can be happy.

There is Yin and there is Yang (just as there is black and white, up and down, male and female). ‘When they are equally present, all is calm. When one is outweighed by the other, there is confusion and disarray.’

‘The Tao surrounds everyone and one must listen to find enlightenment.’

True Taoism does not get bogged down with theology. "The Tao that can be named is not the true Tao."

Taoists love their enemies. "I am good to the man who is good to me, likewise, I am also good to the bad man."

4. Wu wei is action through inaction; ‘a practice of minimal action, particularly violent action’. Don’t overdo the antibiotics or the pesticides. Don’t bomb your enemies. Consider the lilies.

Don’t force yourself or others to be compassionate. Be spontaneous.

Genuine love is spontaneous love.

"The Master does not see evil as a force to resist, but simply as an opaqueness, a state of self-absorption that is in disharmony with the universal process, so that, as with a dirty window, the light can't shine through. This freedom from moral categories allows him his great compassion for the wicked and the selfish"-Stephen Mitchell

"The Tao regulates natural processes and nourishes balance in the Universe. It embodies the harmony of opposites (i.e. there would be no love without hate, no light without dark, no male without female.)"

5. Henry C K Liu wrote in the Asia Times about Taoism (http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/EH01Ad01.html ).

Where does evil come from?

There can be no ‘good’ without ‘evil’.

"Controlled quantities of the bad can be good. Excessive amounts of the good can be bad. Poison kills. But when handled properly, it can cure diseases. Without poison, there can be no medicine. To employ poison to attack poison is a Taoist principle, which is validated in modern medical the practice of vaccination, the use of antibiotics and chemotherapy treatments."

How should we act?

We should avoid producing unintended consequences.

"Not taking premature or unnecessary actions keeps all of one's options open, so that the most appropriate action remains available. Actions always elicit reactions. Each action taken provokes reactions from all quarters that, taken together, are always more powerful than the precipitous action itself. It is the ultimate definition of the inescapable law of unintended consequences."

"To follow the dao (path) of life is to go with the natural flow of life and to avoid going against it. The ethical theories of Taoism lean toward passive resistance, believing that evil, by definition, will ultimately destroy even itself without undue interference.

"Yet it would be a mistake to regard Taoism as fatalistic and pessimistic, instead of the ultimate sophistication in optimism that it is.

"Only by not applying effort can one achieve that state in which nothing is not attainable effortlessly (wu-wei ze wu-suo-bu-wei).

"A little ambition is a good thing. Total elimination, even of undesirables, is an extreme solution, and it is therefore self-defeating.

"Life is a prison from which one can escape only if one does not try to escape. It is the desire to escape that makes a place a prison, and the desire to return that makes it a home. Home is not where one is, it is where one wants to return."

6. Taoism and other religions. The following comes from:

http://www.jadedragon.com/archives/tao_heal/teach01.html

From Taoism: happiness comes from helping others; wealth comes from giving to others. "Love the world as yourself; then you can care for all things."

From Buddhism: "Set your heart on doing good. Do it over and over again, and you will be filled with joy." Buddha: "See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?"

From Islam: "There is a reward for your treatment of every living thing." Muhammad also said: "None of you is a believer until you like for others what you like for yourself."

From Christianity: "Do unto others as you would have them do to you."

7. We learn about Taoism and non-symetrical order from this site: Http://www.publicappeal.org/library/unicorn/watts/on_taoism.html

Alan Watts (1915-1973), who held both a master's degree in theology and a doctorate of divinity, was a fan of Taoism.

According to Watts, the tao is a kind of order. But don't think of the sort of order where there are lots of straight lines.

Think instead of a plant. A plant is not geometrical looking.

The plant looks like a Chinese drawing. The Chinese understand non-symmetrical order.

In the Chinese language this is called li.

According to Watts, Clouds have li, marble has li, the human body has li. There is no way of defining it.

The patterns of li are also the patterns of flowing water.

The Tao loves and nourishes all things, but does not lord it over them.

Taoism says the lowly position is the most powerful.

To some Americans Taoism may sound lazy and spineless. But Watts points out that "we are always creating trouble by doing good to other people. We wage wars for other peoples benefit, and attempt to help those living in 'underdeveloped' counties, not realizing that in the process we may destroy their way of life. Economies and cultures that have coexisted in ecological balance for thousands of years have been disrupted all around the world, with often disastrous results."


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