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About OldDog

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  1. Opinions on Ron Hogan's "Tao Pamphlet"?

    I actually meant the opposite ... translation being more true to the tradition than interpretation. I guess the clarification is in what is meant by translation vs interpretation. Translators are attempting to render the work from the original source Chinese into some other language. That would require knowledge of Chinese and its ancient usage, understanding of the cultural and historical context and the philosophical and religious traditions of the times. I think the likelihood of loss is lesser under this sort academic rigor. Interpretation does not necessarily require the above. Interpretation can be done based on other sources and levels of academic effort. Interpretations are often influenced by poetic license and other belief systems. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it is clear that the rendering is of this type. It can be quite useful depending upon what the reader is looking for.
  2. Opinions on Ron Hogan's "Tao Pamphlet"?

    Read thru it a littleand did not really appeal to me. I think language and manner of expression is a generational thing. Words and idioms move in and out of our speech by ages. Being an old dog, the language does not appeal to me. It will probably be appealing to a younger set. Language and idiom aside, I would be concerned that some of the original meaning is being lost. I have this concern about most modern versions of Laozi. The problem is where we cross the line from being a translation to being an interpretation. Original meaning, intent and practice may be getting lost in the interpretation. Still, it can be personally instructive as an individual exercise for someone to go thru Laozi chapter by chapter and write down what they understand the passages to mean. That would be a perfectly valid way to approach Laozi. Many of us on TDB have done that mentally if not literally. We then often bring our understanding back to the forum to share and discuss. That way our understanding grows. Good effort on your part. Especially in that the effort spanned such a long period of time.
  3. Favorite Daoist Quote

    I am no more a Taoist by virtue of reading the Lao Tzu than I am a physicist from reading Einstein's The Meaning of Relativity. - Harold D Roth, Original Tao
  4. The Complete System

    That would be death .... either in a literal sense or a figurtive one. One can always learn something new. Even within a so called complete system there are alwys dimensions to be explored. And ... if you have the good forture to have learned from multiple teachers ... you do, as ZP suggests begin to synthesize. This is true whether we are talking about martial arts, philosophy or how to tie your shoes. I have yet to run across a teacher that does not understand this. Like my teacher once told me ... a good form always has room fora little improvement.
  5. The Complete System

    I have often considered that if one absorbs the lessons of Dao then one is in a better position to navigate the issues of living. One is less likely to make a hasty impatient ill-advised decission, less likely to act in unnecessary opposition and more likely to be in accord with the times. A good ally, indeed! Nice thought.
  6. The Complete System

    Perhaps the metaphor is misunderstood. Empty cup meaning ... without preconceived notion ... without distracting attitude such as egocentric, argumentative, etc. Empty cup does not mean without desire or some background ... or without virtue. When a student approaches teacher in an open manner, is attentive, is sincere and works hard ... this is said to be virtue ... and will result in gongfu. He who neither values his teacher Nor loves the lesson Is one gone far astray, Though he be learned. -Such is the subtle secret.
  7. The Complete System

    While it is true that we all must ultimately make decisions according to our own criteria, the seeking of a teacher implies that there is knowledge that we do not posses of which we wish to avail. So, while caution is always advisable, one is better off suspending ones current criteria for the opportunity to acquire new knowledge. Approach the teacher and teaching with an empty cup.
  8. Weapons training with PVC pipe

    White waxwood (a Ligustrum sp.) Is common throughout sothern china but also found in other parts of the world. It is relatively light but quite flexible and resists shattering or splintering. Hence, it is favored in wooden martial arts weapons ... bo, three section staff etc. Chen style taiji long pole practice calls for quite a long pole ... 3 meters in length. Often regarded as an impractical weapon by other martial artists, they miss the point of long pole practice. Many of the implements used in Chen style practice are used to train the body rather than weapons technic. Long pole practice builds a strong stance, hips and center while training the upper body and arms to deliver energy. As for dealing with loose dogs, I find the standard cane works just fine in a suburban setting.
  9. The Complete System

    I almost laughed out loud when I read this. Not in a derogatory manner but more in the sense of an "Ah, ha!" The image that came to mind was one of quantum states and the energy that must be applied to a particle to change states. I know, its not a perfect analogy but it's what popped into mind. So, I laughed. Slight digression, sorry.
  10. The Complete System

    Yes, one has to understand that teachers are not all perfect ... they are human and have their own faults. That does not mean there is no value in their teaching ... but also means their teaching is not de facto abosolute. Teaching/learning is a two sided relationship. As much depends on the ability of a student to learn ... accept, practice and understand ... as does the ability of the teacher, either in the sense of the teachers level of personal attainment or ability to impart the knowledge. Complex relationships indeed.
  11. Something I think is important to remember about these things ... five elements, four seasons etc. ... is that they are simply models of what is observed in the universe. Ancient models, but models none the less. To the extent that we can use these models to understand the universe, they are useful. Seems to me that these models hold up as well or better than any other model if existence ... at least in terms of usefulness.
  12. Attainment of the Tao

    That's a fair question. The word "attainment" would seem to imply the expending of effort towards some result. But what effort, what result? The Dao is said to be that which underlies and pervades all things, yet is elusive and ineffable. We talk about it all day long, exploring its possibilities in an intellectual sense. But at some point we need to involve in some practice in pursuit of attainment. It is not purely an intellectual pursuit. In fact, intellectualization (in a psychological sense) is probably the exact opposite of attainment. The main goal of Daoist practice is direct experience of the Dao. This is done by abandoning intellectual pursuit of Dao. This is where meditative practice enters the picture. There is much written about the Daoist approach to meditative practice. The Neiye speaks most plainly about this but it is also mentioned, perhaps more cryptically, in Laozi and Chuangzi. Having some intellectual understanding of these texts is useful in orienting one toward the real objective of practice ... experience. Attainment is troublesome in another sense. It suggests completion ... that the end of the road has been reached. But I don't believe this is so. In the end, regardlesss of the success or not of the practice, one still has to return to the world of things. So, it is not a practice that seeks to transcend the world but rather, through direct experience of Dao, leads to a natural harmony with that which underlies and pervades all. One then returns to the world, in accord with Dao, to live out their physical existence.
  13. The Complete System

    I think this is significant ... and ... how it should be. Each of us has to find our own way ... and our own Way ... or at least our own sense of the Way. To say that we have a framework ... or even a teacher ... means to accept someone else's understanding of the Way. In doing so, you remain constrained by someone else's experience and not finding your own way. It seems that the basic goal of Daoist practice is direct experience of the Way. By definition ... experience ... it is an individualistic pursuit. The various teachers (lineages) and frameworks (methods) can start one off in the general direction but at some point the individual needs to break free of the guidance and carry on, on their own. Thus, the image of a framework expanding ... or of surpassing the its initial guidance is apt. Seems like a good teacher will lead the student to the limits of the framework ... and let them go.
  14. Please leave ego aside to read this

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It is not often that people will open up and share something so personal. Seems to be a testament to TDB that you are comfortable enough with this community to share your experience. Thanks again.
  15. The Thread of Dao

    This last year (2018) I had decided to do some additional reading to help expand my understanding of Laozi and Zhuangzi. I was looking for a connection of those works to a physical practice. It seemed like moving forward, chronologically, from the DDJ, was leading me to increasingly more narrow esoteric subjects and away from foundational/core understandings and practices. The process of reviewing additional sources led me to three books that have greatly influenced my understanding of Laozi and Zhuangzi ... and are allowing me to develop a more personal and physical connection. These are: The Seal of the Unity of the Three by Fabrizio Pregadio, The Thread of Dao by Dan G Reid, Original Tao by Harold Roth. The Seal of the Unity of the Three helped show how different aspects of Daoist activity are all expressions of the same unity. At the same time it did much to breakdown the mystical language found in all sources. The Thread of Dao showed, through the development of the notion of proto-daoist sources, that there was an ongoing tradition that lead up to DDJ and that this tradition included a very real physical process to support Daoist philospohy. It showed the real value and practice of meditation. Original Tao affirms the ideas in The Thread of Dao and does much to strengthen the connection to Laozi and Zhuangzi in a detailed and academically rigorous way. These three works should be at the top of everyones list of study materials. They are foundational and can do much to enhance the later souces in Daoist tradition.