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  1. The I Ching and Lao & Chuang

    Intriguing discussion, which has got me thinking about my own studies of the i ching, in contrast to Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. I've found both invaluable, but for different reasons. To summarise: 1. Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu spin poetry and narratives to disrupt habits and paint an alternative 'philosophy'. They are accessible to the extent that they are either closer to parables (Chuang Tzu) or to poetry (Lao Tzu) for me. They hint at something without being arrogant. 2. I use the i ching more as a divination tool than a guide to change. I have found this 'randomness' more helpful than the 'structure' it lays out - my puzzle solver nature wants to understand this structure (the relationships between lines and hexagrams, the order of symbols, the texts) but in my time, I've come to know that it's either random or expert - and beyond my mind, at the least, currently. However, the divination aspect has been useful for me on many levels - randomness as a 'tool' is often a good strategy to unlock thoughts, and certainly often better than 'logic', 'rationality' and 'sense'. 3. In addition, I have found there is a oddly large value to adopting a 'leap of faith', or trust, in the i ching divination process. This is the hardest to describe, but I find that to put your trust in the i ching - in the *idea* that it is "real" - leads to a stronger divination. For me, this manifests as a) more "useful" results, in that I can see how the reading relates to my situation, and 2) more "coincidence" in the results and text. I'm aware coincidence can be subjective. As part of the "leap of faith", though, I *choose* to consider such coincidences as a "link" between the i ching and myself, and by extension, myself and the universe, or the tao. It is this "trust in the tao" which lies at the heart of the i ching, Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, for me. This is what they all point at - that control is meaningless, that a desire for control leads to conflict with everything. (And, to note, it is this *choice* to trust the tao which Blofeld touches on in his 'Taoism' book - the option is always there to give up control.) Something like that.
  2. Making sense of "Yin" and "Yang" . . .

    Are you breathing because you're alive, or alive because you're breathing?
  3. love must honor everyone

    There is, of course, a paradox here. Is "love" something that joins "me" and "you", or does "love" move us towards a state of co-existence in which there is no "me" or "you"? Who is the self that is giving or receiving love? Why does it care? If "love" is merely the understanding of the co-existence of things, then is it the co-existence that is important, or the things themselves? Once the things co-exist, can they be said to exist independently any more? And if not, where does the "self" fit into that. It's the paradox that's hard. We fight so much to keep our sense of "self" that we even try to fit "love" into a notion of self vs others. If I have a conversation with you, I speak and you speak, but is the conversation "mine" or "yours"?
  4. love must honor everyone

    I've been thinking lightly on this recently, by accident. First, I've always thought the term "love" is a difficult one in the first place, and gets caught up with anything from "control" and "possession", through to "pity" and "empathy". Unpicking the romantic notions we get brought up with (which are usually more possessive than anything else) takes a lot of doing. Second, once you understand "love" as some kind of inherent connection - a "conjoined empathy" perhaps - then it is harder to distinguish between what is loved, and what is doing the loving - between self and the other, as you say. This sets up a non-zero-sum relationship - by combining our own understanding with someone else's experience, we both gain when they gain. ie if I empathise with someone and then make them happy, I feed off their happiness as well. Hence the TTC #81, right at the end: "The sage never tries to store things up. The more he does for others, the more he has. The more he gives to others, the greater his abundance." To some extent, I suspect this linkage can be dangerous as well, and probably why are lot of empathic/sensitive people are depressed - there's a lot of hurt out there.
  5. remarkable discovery

    Symbols and omens exist in the weird space between us and the universe. I don't know if they come from us, from the place we're in, or from somewhere else, but they're useful and there to be used. Enjoy the exploration
  6. From an unrelated cryptanalysis perspective, I always find linguistic analyses interesting, so thanks for the effort here. I'm particularly struck by 'wu' coming in highly - perhaps it is much easier to describe what something isn't than to say what it is, or should be. Lots of the text also uses comparisons though (this, not that), which will affect the count a fair bit. So counting alone removes the relations between concepts, of course. Similarly, I feel Lao tzu often uses several words to address a single but prominent idea, eg female/mother/valley. Anyway, that's about as far as my thoughts go right now.
  7. I'd heard about previous arrangements, but never found any reference to what they might be. Any good sources?
  8. Verse 94

    Many thanks for this. What's this from?
  9. So many thanks for all your replies. There are subtle distinctions going on, and everyone has their own understanding of all of the words here anyway. Many perspectives makes it easier to 'triangulate' something that we probably all feel instinctively I have been going over translations of chapter 38 to try to get something further. Thanks Dawei for this link: I like this quote: "Dao is the way things are, the spirit is the essence." Dao creates, but once created, existence has its own nature, its "modus operandi" as leth notes. When people are involved, this nature includes togetherness/empathy/love. When sustenance is involved, this nature includes support and nourishment. Clouds and seas are caught up in their own system. Night and day have their own. Maybe it is hard to tell the difference between the nature of something, and the "virtue" of it - the manifestation and the effect. Maybe I'm hitting a false Western-minded cause/effect notion here. This is very helpful - thanks again, all. There is a difference between trying to "follow the tao" and merely living within it.
  10. What is the answer to the universe?

    There are plenty of answers that don't have questions ;-)
  11. I've struggled to find a definition of te that has clicked with me. Everyone talks about tao this and that, but te has always seemed the underdog despite appearing in the title of the book. Many more people ask what the tao is than what te is. 'Virtue' is often given as an answer, but I've never been sure what that means. I have generally considered it a 'measure' of following the way - some kind of 'output' - but again, that never felt very satisfactory. Recently I've been provided an opportunity to really consider how to grow a company team. A lot of the discussion has been around nurturing them and allowing them to grow, rather than being hierarchical, heavy-handed, or 'managerial'. From this, something has clicked. Re-reading the Tao Te Ching, I've been struck by three realisations, and am interested in others thoughts. First, the text made much more 'sense' once I began reading te as 'love' - although this is a dangerous word in English. I'm now reading te as the _source_ of love, the raw essence that gives rise to love, compassion, kindness, empathy - *connection*. All All of a sudden, this opens up the second realization - that te does not _appear from_ tao, but is _complementary_ to it. The title makes sense: tao and te are two essential sides of the same coin. Tao creates without owning and destroys without care. Te, through connecting, sustains the creations and nurtures their growth. To reflect back on the opening if the I Ching, tao is pure heaven/yang, while te is pure earth/yin. Only together can anything survive. The third realization is that our own relationship with life is much closet to te than to tao. we are created beings, and our opportunities to connect are far more numerous than our opportunities to create something truly new. Innovation and fashions are tao movements - we are always seeking the Next Big Thing. But we lust for social connections, for a feeling of development and growth. As humans, not gods, we are able to put te into practice much more. Looking back over the text, it is obvious now. I had certainly thought a lot about nurturing, but it is good to be able to relate this directly to personal actions - to nurture, rather then be nurtured.
  12. Practical ways to let go of attachment?

    Yes. It is actually fine to be normal and boring.
  13. To the thread in general, and the apparent dichotomy between caring for someone (kindness) and not focusing on them (emptiness). I like to imagine a fine line where laughing with someone blurs with laughing "at" them, for example. (For linguistic convenience. Being laughed at is usually an interpretation of the subject.) For a student, this is especially important. There are times when you need to be supported, and times when you need to realise not to treat yourself too seriously. Learning comes from knowing when to apply either.
  14. Reminds me of a nun's description of "the essence of Buddhist practice" in Bill Porter's 'Road to Heaven': "Two months later, back in Taiwan, I received the sheet of paper in the mail with four words: goodwill, compassion, joy, detachment." To many, compassion is a form of investment - commonly we want something in return, and at the very least we want something to "do well" thanks to our actions. Holding compassion alongside detachment seems like a contradiction, but also a challenge. Is it necessary to be empty and clear in order to be kind?
  15. Advantageous to marry a young wife and have kids.

    The I Ching is all about societal balance. The most stable systems are self-healing and self-supporting. Yin supports yang and yang supports yin. Leaders support followers and followers support leaders. Partners support each other. Old and young support each other. The I Ching was written in a time when survival depended on families and tribes rather than supermarkets. IMHO, the passage suggests looking for things that complement you (not compliment) to learn from and be supported by, even if you don't feel like settling down...