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About Yueya

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    月牙 yuèyá (Crescent Moon)

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  1. Whilst I appreciate the obvious heart-felt nature of the above replies, I’m surprised by their mildly oppositional content. There was no intention on my part to claim that everyone on a spiritual path needs to wander the wilderness. (Indeed, I included a note to this effect at the end of the PPD entry I referenced above.) However, such a way has a long history of effectiveness from the earliest recorded shamanism onwards. It’s especially prominent in Daoism and features in all the major religions. For me, wilderness based practice is something important that’s not much discussed here. And no one can know how it will affect them without actual experience over an extended period of time. Without such experience, comments are groundless opinions. However my original awakening experience, 35 years ago, was whilst living in the midst of a city. That experience changed me from being a total rational materialist who scoffed at any notion of the divine, to someone who knew that far greater intelligent forces than we humans exist. An awesome 'presence' opened a pathway into me through the top of my head and travelled down through my spine, filling me with life-affirming energy / awareness. Why that experience was visited on me I do not know. To me, it’s a mystery why some people have these experiences and others don’t. My heart certainly wasn’t pure. I was a mess, on a downward spiral towards death, living what I’d call in retrospect a totally corrupt life (though at the time it was where I needed to be). That experience was very much a new beginning. But only a beginning. The initial experience only lasted a short time and the feeling faded completely over the course of the day. Although it left an indelible memory, underneath I was still the same messed-up person as before. I’ve needed decades of real-life experience, many teachers and teachings, and further awakenings to help me work through much stuff, notably emotional imbalances. Indeed, I’m still working through them. But what I can say is that that initial experience almost certainly saved my life in that it gave me a belief; more than a belief, it gave me a knowing.
  2. No I haven’t had an experience like the one described in the OP. But I have had strong experiences like the two Miriam describes above. I wrote a little of one a while back in my PPD here. To my observation these types of experiences aren’t uncommon, but the one Miriam describes in the OP is rare. If she were able to sustain it, I’d call her a sage. However, even if a person has an innate disposition for such a path, it seems to me it’s something that needs to be worked at over a lifetime. I’ll write some more on my own experience later. My interest with this topic is with the varied nature of these experiences; some of which seem to come wholly from the outside, whereas others come from within.
  3. Yes, she isn’t Awakened in the absolute sense the Buddha was. And she certainly doesn’t make any such claims. But to my use of the term, what she describes is an awakening experience. One of the reasons I posted her account was to illustrate how such experiences happen naturally, given the right combination of circumstances. When I said in my OP she had no spiritual intent that isn’t strictly accurate. She and her husband were drawn to live in the wilderness for many reasons, both expressible and inexpressible. One strand was spiritual but not in any rigorous sense. They had a general spiritual interest and even took a copy of the Daodejing with them. Early on Peter commented: ‘This beauty and purity [of the wilderness] will transform the mind, don’t you think?’ His eyes were full of wonder. ‘All the great religions have one basic message. Christ, Buddha, Muhammad, Lao-tzu—they all speak about the transformation of the mind.’ I nodded, looking out at the powerful river, which had cut so effortlessly through the hard rocks. ‘Whatever it might mean, this pure and wild place should change our consciousness.’ But they certainly weren’t focused on spiritual attainment. Mostly they were engaged with simply living in wilderness. And during those years they had several glimpses of mystical experience. Here are another couple: "We once climbed a big mountaintop. As soon as we emerged out of the gully, we were met with a strong westerly wind that swept mercilessly over bare rocks where only red lichen managed to grow. On the summit we gazed at a turquoise lake below us. The amazing opaque colour of the glacial water was absolutely breathtaking. A braided river with a hundred courses glittered in the afternoon sun, and in the far distance we could see farmland with its straight roads and square paddocks. We sat between the clouds and enjoyed the view, as we had done many times before. "Suddenly we both felt the presence of another dimension. We were struck with awe. On that high mountain, we were witnessing something immeasurable. It was as if we were sensing the unspeakable energy that underpins all of reality. In comparison to this immensity, thousands of years of human history and sophisticated achievements seemed quite insignificant. In this light, even the existence of mankind seemed irrelevant. This sense lasted only a short time—half an hour at the most. We saw it once and never again. We tried talking about it, but we couldn’t find the right words. Later, I wondered whether this was what Lao-tzu called the great Dao." And on another occasion: "One evening when we were sitting round the fire, Peter slowly stood up and ambled off barefoot through the thick sphagnum moss. There was something about his determined footsteps that made me follow him. He stepped elegantly over fallen branches, between clumps of tussock, and arrived at the clearing on the saddle. The sun had just set behind the distant blue-grey ridges. The trees, grass and moss were bathed in a reddish glow. "As I stood there barefoot in the soft moss, I looked into the valley below. As subtly and gently as a scented breeze, I became aware of a vast body of silence and eternity, a clear presence of something unknown—almost another dimension. It was such a presence that I was compelled to stop thinking and begin listening. I listened in complete quietness and with total attention. Effortlessly. For a moment everything was whole, innocent and holy."
  4. In my experience, living for extended periods of time in an environment where nature in still strong is hugely beneficial for physical, emotional and spiritual health. For those of us fortunate to live in countries where wilderness still exists I highly recommend it. Connection with nature is at the heart of Daoism. Here’s a lucid account of an awakening experience brought about simply by living in the wilderness from someone who had no spiritual intent and no knowledge of energy cultivation praxis.... “One good sunny day we decided to walk to a big waterfall a long way up the valley. We followed a trail through the forest and came across a huge landslide. We sat down and lit a fire with the abundance of firewood. While Peter was toasting his bread on a stick, I told him that I had felt a huge build-up of energy in the last few days. So much so, I said, that I felt like jumping up and down like a Masai warrior from Kenya. Peter laughed and gestured to show that I should certainly take no notice of him and feel free to jump about if I felt like it. “We continued our way up the valley. Slowly we walked out of the forest and into a giant basin, where the steep mountains were virtually cliffs, and little streams and waterfalls cascaded down the rock walls. Eventually we came to a point where a river had carved a smooth channel through the massive rock. The power and beauty was astounding. Peter climbed the rocks, while I stood still. “I was looking at the turquoise colours in the silky water. I was not doing anything special, but suddenly it felt as if a lightning bolt entered my head, as if the right part of my brain suddenly opened, and with it came an extraordinary clarity. I sat down in wonder, and saw that the whole of reality was in fact moving like a kaleidoscope. I saw that everything, including my own mind, was constantly transforming; I was not really fixed in one place. I saw that this changing reality was an eternal movement in a timeless world. “Eventually I climbed up to where Peter sat. He looked at me and understood at once that something had happened, for he had experienced similar things himself in the past. We sat down, and we were so in sync that with only a few words he intuitively understood what I was trying to say. While looking at the world, my mind seemed so clear. It was as if I had been driving a car with the handbrake on and suddenly it had been released. “We spoke about humanity, and good and evil. We discussed how children are taught right from wrong, and how these words affect our way of seeing the world. While talking to Peter, I saw myself thinking according to these culturally conditioned values. I could see how I interpreted, judged and analysed my own thoughts, thereby restricting my own mind. I realised that these social rules were made in the past, and had nothing to do with the ever-changing present. “We climbed to the roaring waterfall round the corner. A white river was thundering down to earth, and an eternal, drifting spray covered the fall like a jacket. The wind shaped the mist into different patterns. The spectacular 100-metre cascade had carved a shaft through the solid cliff, before it rushed over smooth slides down the mountain. The power of the waterfall engulfed me. I felt part of its pulsating movements, which glided through the hard rocks to find the lowest levels of the land and reach the sea. “After that remarkable day I didn’t suddenly walk around with a smile all the time. I didn’t feel an eternal bliss. Quite the contrary, in fact: it felt as if someone had removed my rose-tinted glasses. The world had become crystal clear, and I was forced to look at everything—the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly—in a direct and unconditioned way. It was immensely sobering, but also profoundly connecting. “In the following weeks, we went for long walks. We came across flowers that I had seen a hundred times, but it felt as if I saw them for the first time. I spotted a big plant with yellow flowers and when I touched its soft green leaves I felt, intuitively, that these could have a medicinal property for the lungs. When I saw another plant, which Peter recognised as ragwort, I felt that it should not be eaten, but could perhaps have a use for skin treatments. We walked from plant to plant, and each one told us something of interest. I realised that in the past people would have had a sense for the medicinal values of plants, and that this insight was now rendered obsolete by modern science and technology. “Not only was I fascinated by the world of plants; birds and insects also captivated me. When we saw a giant dragonfly on the ground, I lay down next to it. It looked like an alien, with its long black-and-yellow tail. Its enormous eyes on its swivelling head looked at me, and I wondered what it saw. When we returned to the forest, I was in awe of the big, tall plants that we call trees. They suddenly felt like friendly giants. I sat on the roots of an old tree and felt my own heartbeat resonating with its pulse. I was connected. The whole world was magical, and everything in it had such a beautiful design. My mind was empty; the world was complete, full. There was nothing to miss or desire. “The nights were equally as intriguing as the days. When I dreamed, I knew I was in a dream and I could look around without waking up. It was interesting to observe how real the dream world seemed. I touched people’s faces to test if I could feel their skin. I could jump high or fly at will. I listened to orchestras and was at the same time astounded that my brain could make up and play all the instruments. If I didn’t like the course of my dream, I was able to change it. “This state of mind—this extraordinary sensitivity and connectedness—only lasted for a few weeks. After a month, I felt mostly ‘normal’ again, although some aspects of my understanding had changed forever. My dreams, especially, are still very enjoyable.” (From Miriam Lancewood’s book, Woman in the Wilderness: A story of survival, love & self-discovery in New Zealand......Miriam is a Dutch woman living in the heart of the mountains with her New Zealand husband. She lives simply in a tent or hut, and survives by hunting wild animals and foraging edible plants, relying on only minimal supplies. For the last six years she has lived this way, through all seasons, often cold, hungry and isolated in the bush. She loves her life and feels free, connected to the land, and happy.)
  5. I have Arthur Waley's translation. His is a highly rated translation, but translating poetry from Chinese and retaining the feel of the original is next to impossible of course. I'm not familiar with Pound's translation but perhaps work with both, Waley's for translation accuracy and Pound's for poetic feel. I bought it more to get a feel of ancient Chinese culture, and that it certainly gives. It is a great reminder that we humans have changed little emotionally over the last few millennia.
  6. What is spirituality

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality has the whole topic covered. Here's the opening paragraphs....... For me, spirituality is the inner essence of true religion. It's unfortunate that this central aspect has been virtually lost from the contemporary meaning of religion because of the disconnection of the mainstream religions from underlying spiritual reality. Hence the very notion of religion has become toxic for many people. This is unfortunate as this observation from Carl Jung makes clear.... “Of all my patients past middle life, that is, past thirty-five, there is not one whose ultimate problem is not one of religious attitude. Indeed, in the end every one suffered from having lost that which living religions of every age have given to their believers, and none is really cured who has not regained a religious attitude, which naturally has nothing to do with creeds or belonging to a church.”
  7. Daoist or Chinese Music

    I bought this album: "The Pure Sound of Mountain and Water". Here's a track from it..... Yes, that's what I like about it. And what I like about Riley Lee's playing of the shakuhachi.
  8. Daoist or Chinese Music

    I too would like to find some Daoist inspired music. The closest I've found to the sound I'd like is Riley Lee playing the shakuhachi flute:
  9. Slightly tangential to the present discussion, here is a view of emptiness from Carl Jung that I find insightful....... The goal [of individuation] seems to be anticipated by archetypal symbols which represent something like the circumambulation of a centre. With increasing approximation to the centre there is a corresponding depotentiation of the ego in favour of the influence of the "empty" centre which is certainly not identical with the archetype but is the thing the archetype points to. As the Chinese would say, the archetype is only the name of Tao, not Tao itself. Just as the Jesuits translated Tao as "God," so we can describe the "emptiness" of the centre as "god." Emptiness in this sense doesn't mean "absence" or "vacancy," but something unknowable which is endowed with the highest intensity.... I call this unknowable the Self.... The whole course of individuation is dialectical, and the so-called "end" is the confrontation of the ego with the "emptiness" of the centre. (I’d add as an aside....a salient aspect of these discussions seems to me to be the confrontation of our individual egos with the diverse Mind of Dao Bums, for better or for worse.)
  10. Old translations - how useful are they?

    @OldDog As I’ve mentioned, I’d like to bow out of this discussion. Yet I feel obliged to acknowledge your reply because of your obvious sincerity as well as my desire to defend my perspective. Getting back to the OP, I feel respect those early sinologists such as Legge, Giles, and Wilhelm because they were the pioneers. Their work blazed pathways into classical Chinese thought. Those who come later are obviously at a great advantage because of the foundations these pioneers have built. We are fortunate in that we have over a century of interpretative work at our finger tips. Or you could say as you’ve implied that we are burdened by an excess of analysis. I like it that you acknowledge your visceral reaction. For me personally, my innate nature favours cognition through what I feel rather than what I think. Hence, my focus here is on exploring and refining the complex web of feelings that underlie these discussions. To my reading of that article Moeller did not think Giles was deliberately misinterpreting Zhuangzi, rather he was highlighting how Giles was unconsciously following his Western conditioning. The opposite for me. I found it exciting and deeply meaningful when I first read it. What's appears extreme for one person may well be the authentic path for another. Bodhidharma, seven years facing a wall... I agree about the value of such literary devices as metaphor, paradox and allegory. I’d add that they hint at the ineffable. However, I also value the clarity of Western analysis. Both these modes are important for me.....the interplay of light and dark; of yang and yin.
  11. Old translations - how useful are they?

    @wandelaar As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t like the article it’s your business. I feel no obligation to work at convincing you of its merits, especially as you haven’t even bothered to read it properly. I found all the Daoist books by the author of that article (Hans-Georg Moeller) very helpful when I first read them many years ago because he was outlining a worldview that resonated with my own tentative insights that I’d developed from my personal cultivation. But, having gained and considerably broadened that intellectual foundation, I’ve since moved on in my practice so that it no longer feels meaningful for me to engage in discussions about those books. As I’ve said, I only posted it thinking it may be of interest to you and Old Dog. I now fully concede that I was wrong with that assumption.
  12. Old translations - how useful are they?

    @OldDog I added that article because I thought it would interest you, given that you quoted Lin Yutang's concern about how poorly early Daoist works have been translated and interpreted. Hence your adverse response surprises me, as does Wandelaars. I personally found that article insightful and particularly helpful in distinguishing significant differences between ancient Chinese thought from the dominant worldview we find echoed in most all interpretations of Daoist thought. It is intelligently presented by a scholar well researched in both classical Daoism and Western philosophy.
  13. Old translations - how useful are they?

    As an example, here's a comprehensive analysis from a contemporary Western philosopher of cultural bias in Giles’s translation of The Dream of the Butterfly.
  14. Agreed. What about applying it to the polarity of contemporary political debate? I very occasionally browse the Trump threads here and see much demonisation of the opposition, each side passionately trying to make America 'good and beautiful'. But the Dao dictates the impossibility of this: "We endeavor to attain the good and the beautiful, yet at the same time we also seize the evil and the ugly since in the Dao these are one with the good and the beautiful." In Jungian terms, the debate is hopelessly contaminated by people not realising that they're projecting their own shadows onto other people. Jung was likewise critical of the way the Christian church posits a one-sided God that represents only the good and tries to abolish evil. Yet good and evil form an inseparable pair of opposites and it's impossible to banish one half of a pair of opposites. (I'm not after answers here, and certainly not claiming such debate isn't vital, but a greater awareness of some of the forces that shape our psyche can make it more healthy. )