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About Ailun

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    Dao Bum
  1. How Is Taoism/Buddhism a way of life?

    So are you suggesting that religious Daoism is a perversion of its basic philosophical foundations? Interesting, I don't think I've ever encountered anyone saying this before (outside of purely academic circles). It happens to be what I think, more or less.
  2. Chuang Tzu

    I haven't had a chance to read anything but Victor Mair's translation. I chose that one because I know Mair is a very highly regarded scholar, and he even writes occasionally for linguistics blogs and clearly knows his stuff. (Here is a nice example of his blog writing. He seems like someone with his head screwed on straight.) It's great to see his translation side-by-side with others. Although I agree that Merton's poetic style is lovely, I still think I prefer Mair's very straightforward, ungilded interpretation. Reading his Chuang Tzu, I feel this interesting similarity to the parables of Franz Kafka, which I have always loved. Whether this is truer to the original (if there is really any objective way to tell), I can't say. I don't read classical chinese. But his interpretation works well for me. Mair: "Once upon a time Chuang Chou dreamed that he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting about happily enjoying himself. He didn't know that he was Chou. Suddenly he awoke and was palpably Chou. He did not know whether he were Chou who had dreamed of being a butterfly or a butterfly who was dreaming that he was Chou. Now, there must be a difference between Chou and the butterfly. This is called the transformation of things." I love the breeziness and down to earth feeling of this prose. Kafka: I prefer the old Willa and Edwin Muir translations, probably because they were the first I read. But still, I think their translations do have a nice feeling of concrete simplicity to them as well, similar to what I perceive in Mair's rendition of Chuang Tzu. Hm. In Kafka's own way that parable I linked to is very similar to the one above about the wheel maker!
  3. Introduction

    Hello, I'm a grad student (studying linguistics). I bought a copy of the Tao Te Ching a year ago, for no special reason. I really liked the philosophy and the style of it, and read it in one day. Perhaps a few weeks later, I was brooding about some problem or other, sitting at my desk, and for some reason I picked up the book again. I read it very quickly, and I was surprised that by the end I felt much, much better. My mind was clear and I was calm, whatever had been bothering me no longer seemed overwhelming, or even especially important (and indeed, in hindsight, it wasn't). At the time I lived in the SF Bay Area. I think I had already been learning tai chi for a while from a former student of Wong Jack Man (I didn't know this at the time, I only found out later when another teacher asked about previous training). I looked around for Taoist organizations, but found that apart from temples which clearly catered to an ethnic Chinese demographic, expensive and questionable new-agey stuff, and various sorts of tai chi, there was not much around. So, I bought the Chuang Tzu and loved that as well. I kept rereading Tao Te Ching from time to time. I bought a few other books by Liu I Ming and so on, and occasionally picked them up. But I didn't really know what else to do. Now I am in Tucson, and I still don't know what to do. I want to do more than read about it all, but if I couldn't find anything useful in SF with its huge chinese-american population, I don't hold out much hope for Arizona. I guess I'll just keep reading and I'll figure out what I'm looking for some day.