Student

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  1. Thoughts on Wu Wei

    Thanks for the feedback, manitou! I do agree with you that the sage should also know to "nip it all in the bud" as you said. Wu Wei is a good way to go about life- in that you're not interfering with others. You solve problems by knowing what is a problem and what isn't a problem. But if someone or something is interfering with you, now they are the ones going against wu wei, and they will have to deal with the consequences of interfering with you. The sage doesn't start conflict, but the sage is not afraid to end conflict either.
  2. Master Ken is awesome.

    I actually have a coworker who donated to one of Master Ken's charities. He got a certificate in return, proclaiming him a Certified Ameri-Do-Te Street Lethal White Belt.
  3. Master Ken is awesome.

    Yes! He's hilarious, the satire is flawless.
  4. Hello all

    So what's your background in Taoism? Passing interest? A study in the healing or martial arts? Philosophy? Spirituality?
  5. Thoughts on Wu Wei

    My kung fu/qigong/meditation/Taoist philosophy teacher, who himself studied at a Taoist temple for fourteen years, taught me that the Western interpretation of wu wei is flawed. The western view of it is flawed by its lack of what he felt is the actual pragmatism of it. While translating it as "without actions" is technically correct, a better interpretation would be "non-interference". Basically, we humans interfere in things we should not and often create our own problems by sticking our noses in things. It hinges on one's own ability to recognize his or her own limitations. For example, if I don't recognize my path would interfere with something like a bullet, I'm interfering with the bullet's path and I am getting shot. This is the consequence for interfering with the bullet. Wu wei, or non-interference, would give me the foresight to not interfere with the bullet's path. I know to avoid places where people are more likely to threaten me with a gun. To quote my teacher, "You don't stick your dick in the beehive." Chances are, most people will get stung by a bee in their life. But only an idiot sticks their dick in the beehive. Your penis is now interfering with that beehive. See what I mean? People who are excessively nosey, butting in on others’ business, those people interfere. The consequence for that is often that people dislike you; you might make someone angry or violent. Another example of non-interference could be something like green house gasses. Humans don't recognize the limitations of non-sustainable fuel sources, so we are interfering with the planet by exacerbating climate change. The consequences of our interference with the planet are severe. This concept of understanding limitations to avoid interfering with things that end poorly for you can be applied to pretty much anything. Enlightenment isn't very complex, if you understand your own limitations well enough to live harmoniously, you'll probably have a peaceful and fulfilling life. Seeing the world clearly, utilizing Wu Wei, and living harmoniously: these are footsteps on the path to enlightenment. That’s another thing Westerners have an exotic impression of; enlightenment. Strip away the esoteric, it is pragmatic. Life has its ups and downs, but if you can transition well through the cycle of reversions between the ups and downs, you achieve a peaceful life much easier. To use a metaphor, compare the rhythmic swinging of a pendulum when released gently to the same pendulum swatted about dissonantly. So do we see things as clearly as we think we do? Of course not. Our human brains are limited, but studying Taoism helps you see the world a little more clearly than we would otherwise. We are not omniscient. In my earlier example with the gun, we could know that some places are more likely to see gun violence than others, but even if I was a hermit in the wilderness I might still get shot some day. But I’m less likely to get shot if I use wu wei to prepare myself a little better at avoiding conflict.
  6. Everyone post some favorite quotes!

    So my favorite translation is Lin Yutang, after that is Addiss and Lombardo, after that Derek Lin. Each have their own subtleties I enjoy. Chapter Twenty talks about the relationship between society and a man of Tao (or woman of Tao, but for brevity I'll say man if only because I'm male) . In following Taoism, a man of Tao sees the world differently. Specifically, the man of Tao sees through the illusions society feeds to everyone starting at birth, illusions like what you need to do to be normal, what society says you need to be happy, how you should look, how you should obey societal pressure to fit in. The man of Tao sees that often, these societal pressures are actual dangerous to our own spirituality. For example, in the modern day we are constantly barraged with the message that to be happy we need a bigger house, and more expensive car, we have to fit in with the crowd by keeping up with fashion, women must wear make-up and enlarge their breasts if they want to be pretty, men have to watch sports if they want to fit in. All of these things are programming us to be shallow consumers and docile, easy-to-control citizens. Yet all of these shallow pursuits, like chasing money and the whims of societal convention, are damaging our spiritual selves. The man of Tao sees through the illusion- but there's a hitch. Chuang Tzu had a word for the majority of population- he called them the herd. After becoming a man of Tao, you are now separated from the herd. The man of Tao doesn't fit in with them any more. The realization that it's now much more difficult to relate to the common person, the people who fit society's mold, can make a person feel lonely. You've become a stranger in your own home. The herd is more or less happy living their lives, it could even be dangerous showing yourself for who you are- they might turn on you for thinking differently than they do. So the man of Tao must adjust to being an outsider. Still, the path of Tao isn't just lonely and desolate. You still draw from an eternal source to nourish your spiritual self. The nourishment of Taoism allows you to live a content life and it nourishes your soul. And if you're lucky, you can find a few others that also follow the path of Tao and are likewise divorced from the trappings of a spirituality sapping society.
  7. freedom

    freeone, I'm not saying you submit to limitations, you just recognize them. I'm limited in my ability to keep myself safe, so I better study the martial arts so I am better able to defend myself. I am limited in my need for food and shelter, so I earn enough money to live comfortably. I'm limited by the country I live in, so I keep a low profile and obey their laws so I'm not pursued by authorities that would interfere with my life. Those decisions are things I'm controlling. I understand the way the world works, and I know how to live within it successfully, how is that me being helpless or frustrated? I've prepared myself better for possible difficulties in my life than people who see the world less clearly, giving me confidence. Total agreement, especially with the part about being free from unnatural behavior and thinking, but furthermore, freedom from the illusions society attempts to impose on us. A lot of the authority in the world goes to a lot of effort indoctrinating us to think in ways and believe in things that allow them to stay in positions of power above you. Taoism is the vaccine that inoculates you from the illusion; it allows you to see reality clearly.
  8. Everyone post some favorite quotes!

    I'm not sure how you're interpreting chapter twenty, so I'm not really sure what you mean in your response to me. Could you expand your thoughts?
  9. Nice to meet you all.

    My teacher taught me Kung Fu, Meditation, qigong (or whichever way is most popular to spell it in English these days), and philosophy. It was only me and two other students, later just myself and one other student. The lessons were in the classical fashion, a mentor with only a few students. Lessons were conversations, and we talked about life. We talked about the esoteric and mystic aspects of Taoism, but mostly stuck to the pragmatic stuff.
  10. freedom

    Your explanation of mastering the world seems to be contrary to Classical Taoist teachings. The Tao Te Ching repeatedly reminds us that we all have limitations, and we are restricted by them. We are only human and if we don't recognize our own limitations, we will be discontent when our expectations don't line up with reality. I'm limited by my birth, by my body, by money, by influence, and many other things. If I recognize my limitations and live within them, I'll live a more peaceful life.
  11. Everyone post some favorite quotes!

    I am very fond of chapter 20 of the Tao Te Ching.
  12. What is Taoism? (Seriously)

    Well, I was taught that "Tao called Tao is not Tao." Language is an imperfect means of communication, and Tao is a bigger thing than humans can really comprehend. However, it is a useful word to use for conversation purposes. So. One of the better ways I've heard it defined was that Taoism is the philosophy of seeing and understanding reality clearly. If you are pursuing seeing the world, nature, the universe, whatever more clearly, that's Taoism. I highly recommend you read "The Truth of Tao" by Alex Anatole.
  13. freedom

    Could you elaborate what you mean by "mastering the world"? Also, I'm inclined to agree with Chang, commenting on the order of it. I would say that you must work on mastering the mind and body simultaneously. Fixating on one and ignoring the other until you have the first "mastered" doesn't sound balanced to me. Like Yin and Yang. Cultivation of the body and cultivation of the mind work together. Also, welcome! I'm new here too, haha.
  14. Nice to meet you all.

    Hello everyone, my username is Student. I just joined this forum moments ago. I'm twenty-two years old, I live in New England, and I have been a student of Taoism for about four years now. I used to have classes on Taoist philosophy with my teacher on a regular basis, but circumstances changed around a year and a half ago, so I don't get to see him often anymore. I'm still passionate about learning, and I've joined the Tao Bums to try to keep my lessons with my teacher fresh. Thank you for having me.