Alchemical Walrus

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About Alchemical Walrus

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  1. Sufi cultivation

    Do these seven layers correspond to the seven nafs, or perhaps the seven valleys of Attar in any way?? I can definitely see how there are different levels of meaning within the Quran depending on what nafs the reader holds, so I suspect (though since you only mention the first layer, it is hard to say) that there is correspondence between these seven layers you allude to and the seven nafs held by the reader. Regardless of the answer (and, of course, if you cannot answer due to the nature of Sufi teaching, that is understandable), do you have any thoughts on the subject of the seven nafs and/or the related mystic poetry of Attar?? My own tradition posits there are countless layers to the Quran, down to even the meanings of each individual character therein. For those unfamiliar, "nafs" means something akin to "spirit", "self", "ego", or "level of being". I don't really like any translation I've found of the concept, so I'll stick to calling it nafs. Of interest to those of a Taoist background here, or anyone who looks for intersection in different cultivation traditions, the fourth nafs, Nafs al Mutmainnah, I would say corresponds to the concept of Wu Wei, and I think there are parallels that can be drawn between the fifth, Nafs ar Raddiyyah, and the Taijitu.
  2. I mean, in a sense it's like trying to get to any physical location. The "most straight forward path" will depend on your current location.
  3. "Usually seen" by who exactly?? I for one belong to a monotheistic tradition that explicitly says God has no gender. (Or any other attribute, for that matter). And as a factual matter nature has both genders. So God is neither masculine nor feminine (at least according to my faith specifically, as well as at least 1/3 of the world's population), and Nature is both masculine and feminine (objectively speaking). The only traditions I've seen that traditionally see God as masculine, nature as feminine are European pagans, and they're not exactly widespread enough these days for their beliefs to be considered "usually".
  4. Is there unnecessary suffering?

    Reminds me of the Zhuangtzu: "Be content with this time and dwell in this order and then neither sorrow nor joy can touch you. In ancient times this was called the `freeing of the bound.'" The escape from sorrow involves the escape from joy as well. The two are interconnected. I believe the key to ending suffering is had by achieving contentment, and removing the dichotomy of "positive" and "negative" feelings. Since "What is and what is not create each other" the "negative" feelings are understood by yourself in relation and contrast to the "positive" ones. Therefore by defining the "positive", one experiences the "negative".
  5. Fake enlightened teachers

    Eh, I think you can learn even from the fakes out there. One of my favorite Baha'i verses is "In ignorance he findeth many a knowledge hidden, and in knowledge a myriad wisdoms manifest." If you know how to look you can learn even from the teachings of the ignorant.
  6. Third Eye Block?

    ^ Very true statement there.
  7. Third Eye Block?

    Yeah, that's what I'd think too. I don't have an orthodox understanding of the idea of the Seven Chakras, but I'd think you have to go through #1-#5 before you can go through #6
  8. What is a Daoist?

    I think it's just a matter of linguistics. In other societies people seem to think it is important to assign a label to your philosophical or spiritual beliefs. Initially in Taoism, there wasn't really that sort of thing, so when people who hold those beliefs enter societies where labels are important, the word "Taoist" is adopted to try to gain a label, even if that label originally was a title designating clergymen rather than all believers.
  9. What is in our power to do?

    "I'm starting to wonder if there is any statement that hasn't been ascribed to Einstein by someone, somewhere." -Albert Einstein.
  10. Everyone post some favorite quotes!

    "The world has never had nor does it now possess stability, notwithstanding the complaints of some unfaithful and wavering souls. But, in truth, whatever takes place is well-pleasing, for the divine wisdom has ordained it. Without His command and will, not a leaf can stir, and whatever occurs is conformable to wisdom. All must be contented with it, nay eagerly desire it. However, in some cases, such as when the sweetness of reunion gives way to the bitterness of separation and, likewise, when, by the decree of remoteness, nearness and meeting are banished--this causes sighs of sorrow and grief to be upraised and the tears to flow. Otherwise, the matter is as some of the philosophers have cited from the words of Hermes: 'It is impossible for the realm of creation to be better than it already is.'"-Baha’u’llah (Reminded me of the Zhuangzi when I read it)
  11. More or less, who is to say which is good or bad?
  12. Jen Wu (sp?) and the Five Dragons

    Thank you!! I figured my inability to find things was a result of my not being able to spell "Zhenwudadi".
  13. Jen Wu (sp?) and the Five Dragons

    I'm trying to track down a story, and I was wondering if anyone here could help in my search. It started with me watching the following YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdI3Uoa6BOU I don't know anything really about the speaker or his background, this is the first video I've seen by him. But near the end of his talk, he briefly mentions a story about an Emperor's son, named something like "Jen Wu Da Dei" (no idea if my attempt to spell that was anything near correct), who went into the Wudang mountains to cultivate and encountered five dragons who helped him traverse seven stages of consciousness. The speaker says he will not go into the details of that story in this talk, however, so he provides no more details except those. It's probably a long shot, but does anyone know where I can find this full story?? My attempts at Google-fu have thusfar been fruitless. From the vague description I've gotten so far, it seems to have thematic similarities to ʿAṭṭār's Conference of the Birds, and so I'm interested in finding this story to do a deeper analysis of it. Also, as an aside, is there a better subforum for questions like this??
  14. The Chuang Tzu

    I think it's best understood as "action without attachment". That is, move within the world but do not develop entanglements to the world. Attachments and entanglements breed resentment to the process of change, and ideally the process of change should be accepted in its courses. If you make goals as you describe, so be it, but accept the world and process of change regardless of whether or not those goals come to fruition. Whether success or failure, accept the occurrence. I'd back up my viewpoint with this parable: 'Yen Hui went to see Confucius and asked permission to take a trip. "Where are you going?" "I'm going to Wei." "What will you do there?" "I have heard that the ruler of Wei is very young. He acts in an independent manner, thinks little of how he rules his state, and fails to see his faults. It is nothing to him to lead his people into peril, and his dead are reckoned by swampfuls like so much grass. His people have nowhere to turn. I have heard you say, Master, `Leave the state that is well ordered and go to the state in chaos! At the doctor's gate are many sick men.' I want to use these words as my standard, in hopes that I can restore his state to health." "Ah," said Confucius, "you will probably go and get yourself executed, that's all. The Way doesn't want things mixed in with it. When it becomes a mixture, it becomes many ways; with many ways, there is a lot of bustle; and where there is a lot of bustle, there is trouble - trouble that has no remedy! The Perfect Man of ancient times made sure that he had it in himself before he tried to give it to others. When you're not even sure what you've got in yourself, how do you have time to bother about what some tyrant is doing? "Do you know what it is that destroys virtue, and where wisdom comes from? Virtue is destroyed by fame, and wisdom comes out of wrangling. Fame is something to beat people down with, and wisdom is a device for wrangling. Both are evil weapons - not the sort of thing to bring you success. Though your virtue may be great and your good faith unassailable, if you do not understand men's spirits, though your fame may be wide and you do not strive with others, if you do not understand men's minds, but instead appear before a tyrant and force him to listen to sermons on benevolence and righteousness, measures and standards - this is simply using other men's bad points to parade your own excellence. You will be called a plaguer of others. He who plagues others will be plagued in turn. You will probably be plagued by this man. "And suppose he is the kind who actually delights in worthy men and hates the unworthy-then why does he need you to try to make him any different? You had best keep your advice to yourself! Kings and dukes always lord it over others and fight to win the argument. You will find your eyes growing dazed, your color changing, your mouth working to invent excuses, your attitude becoming more and more humble, until in your mind you end by supporting him. This is to pile fire on fire, to add water to water, and is called `increasing the excessive.' If you give in at the beginning, there is no place to stop. Since your fervent advice is almost certain not to be believed, you are bound to die if you come into the presence of a tyrant. "In ancient times Chieh put Kuan Lung-feng to death and Chou put Prince Pi Kan to death. Both Kuan Lung-feng and Prince Pi Kan were scrupulous in their conduct, bent down to comfort and aid the common people, and used their positions as ministers to oppose their superiors. Therefore their rulers, Chieh and Chou, utilized their scrupulous conduct as a means to trap them, for they were too fond of good fame. In ancient times Yao attacked Ts'ung-chih and Hsu-ao, and Yu attacked Yu-hu, and these states were left empty and unpeopled, their rulers cut down. It was because they employed their armies constantly and never ceased their search for gain. All were seekers of fame or gain - have you alone not heard of them? Even the sages cannot cope with men who are after fame or gain, much less a person like you! "However, you must have some plan in mind. Come, tell me what it is." Yen Hui said, "If I am grave and empty-hearted, diligent and of one mind, won't that do?" "Goodness, how could that do? You may put on a fine outward show and seem very impressive, but you can't avoid having an uncertain look on your face, any more than an ordinary man can. And then you try to gauge this man's feelings and seek to influence his mind. But with him, what is called `the virtue that advances a little each day' would not succeed, much less a great display of virtue! He will stick fast to his position and never be converted. Though he may make outward signs of agreement, inwardly he will not give it a thought! How could such an approach succeed?" "Well then, suppose I am inwardly direct, outwardly compliant, and do my work through the examples of antiquity? By being inwardly direct, I can be the companion of Heaven. Being a companion of Heaven, I know that the Son of Heaven and I are equally the sons of Heaven. Then why would I use my words to try to get men to praise me, or try to get them not to praise me? A man like this, people call The Child. This is what I mean by being a companion of Heaven. "By being outwardly compliant, I can be a companion men. Lifting up the tablet, kneeling, bowing, crouching down - this is the etiquette of a minister. Everybody does it, so why shouldn't I? If I do what other people do, they can hardly criticize me. This is what I mean by being a companion of men. "By doing my work through the examples of antiquity, I can be the companion of ancient times. Though my words may in fact be lessons and reproaches, they belong to ancient times and not to me. In this way, though I may be blunt, I cannot he blamed. This is what I mean by being a companion of antiquity. If I go about it in this way, will it do?" Confucius said, "Goodness, how could that do? You have too many policies and plans and you haven't seen what is needed. You will probably get off without incurring any blame, yes. But that will be as far as it goes. How do you think you can actually convert him? You are still making the mind your teacher!" Yen Hui said, "I have nothing more to offer. May I ask the proper way?" "You must fast!" said Confucius. "I will tell you what that means. Do you think it is easy to do anything while you have [a mind]? If you do, Bright Heaven will not sanction you." Yen Hui said, "My family is poor. I haven't drunk wine or eaten any strong foods for several months. So can I be considered as having fasted?" "That is the fasting one does before a sacrifice, not the fasting of the mind." "May- I ask what the fasting of the mind is?" Confucius said, "Make your will one! Don't listen with your ears, listen with your mind. No, don't listen with your mind, but listen with your spirit. Listening stops with the ears, the mind stops with recognition, but spirit is empty- and waits on all things. The Way gathers in emptiness alone. Emptiness is the fasting of the mind." Yen Hui said, "Before I heard this, I was certain that I was Hui. But now that I have heard it, there is no more Hui. Can this be called emptiness?" "That's all there is to it," said Confucius. "Now I will tell you. You may go and play in his bird cage, but never be moved by fame. If he listens, then sing; if not, keep still. Have no gate, no opening, but make oneness your house and live with what cannot be avoided. Then you will be close to success. "It is easy to keep from walking; the hard thing is to walk without touching the ground. It is easy to cheat when you work for men, but hard to cheat when you work for Heaven. You have heard of flying with wings, but you have never heard of flying without wings. You have heard of the knowledge that knows, but you have never heard of the knowledge that does not know. Look into that closed room, the empty chamber where brightness is born! Fortune and blessing gather where there is stillness. But if you do not keep still - this is what is called sitting but racing around. Let your ears and eyes communicate with what is inside, and put mind and knowledge on the outside. Then even gods and spirits will come to dwell, not to speak of men! This is the changing of the ten thousand things, the bond of Yu and Shun, the constant practice of Fu Hsi and Chi Ch'u. How much more should it be a rule for lesser men!"' (Sorry for the length of the quote... but I think the whole thing is needed in context, and I think the parable a good key for understanding wei wu wei) I think the culmination of the concept comes in this line: "Now I will tell you. You may go and play in his bird cage, but never be moved by fame. If he listens, then sing; if not, keep still. Have no gate, no opening, but make oneness your house and live with what cannot be avoided. Then you will be close to success." Where the court of the ruler is the world itself. Go into the world, play, sing, or keep still as necessary. Close yourself off from attachment and live contented with what cannot be avoided. And "Then you will be close to success." Ultimately I think the best translation, though, of wei wu wei is "action without action" rather than "action without intent" or "action without attachment". I think the contradiction in the phrase "action without action" is intentional and illustrative, because when most people hear about the idea of having no intention or no attachments or the like, they imagine that such a state of mind would result in complete inaction, and therefore the idea of someone attaining such a state of mind, and continuing to move about, seems like a contradiction to them. So despite the contradiction within the phrase "action without action", I think the phrase still works the best, because the entire concept is something that, at first glance, seems to contradict anyways. The fact it seems to be impossible is probably the meaning behind the line "It is easy to keep from walking; the hard thing is to walk without touching the ground."
  15. What are you listening to?

    Space Jam remixes and Mongolian Folk/Hip-Hop. My music tastes are... odd.