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  1. The title of the topic is pretty much self-explanatory. I know that religious Daoism (daojiao) contains a pantheon of supernaturalistic entities. Is daojia inherently agnostic, beyond the often supernaturalistically interpreted concept of the Dao itself? To me the word "Dao" has no supernaturalistic elements, and refers only to a "path" in the philosophical sense. So to me this doesn't prevent daojia from being agnostic, although I know that many, including some who practice daojia, consider the Dao to contain supernaturalistic aspects. Perhaps some consider daojia to be inherently atheistic. For purposes of this thread, please assume that the notion of daojia and daojiao being separate traditions is accurate (I've seen several discussions elsewhere get derailed into heated discussions of whether or not this separation is legitimate). Thank you.
  2. I'm looking for photographs or other directly scanned images, ideally online, of some of the early texts of the DDJ. I've already found photos of the Guodian slips, but I can't seem to find any of the Mawangdui texts except for the one on the Wikipedia. What I'm looking for is close-ups of the entirety of DDJ texts A and B, with enough detail that I could recognize the individual characters myself, if I had the requisite knowledge and in those cases where the characters are legible enough to allow for this to be done without being in the presence of the physical material. Failing this, I'd like to find complete transcripts of the originals using the actual characters that appear on the texts rather than their "modern equivalents". Am I just not finding what's there or do such images not exist? I have trouble believing that such images don't exist in any form anywhere, as the museum that houses the texts would have to be very foolish not to have ever made any images of such old and fragile documents, even if only for their own archives, in case an accident should destroy the irreplaceable originals. Thanks.
  3. What defines a Daoist?

    There are an infinite number of "ways to go", Daoism is only one. But you're right, I don't approve of "classes" in society, unless there's such intensive social mobility that people can go back and forth among them at will, based on aptitude, merit, effort, etc... And in no case should one person be allowed to "put" someone else in a class, let alone trap them there. As you say, at least some of Confucianism is about "fitting in". But it shouldn't be necessary to be of a certain class or act in a certain way to fit in. If a garbage man goes to an upper-class golf club after work and hangs around with the millionaire CEO's, then he should be treated exactly as if he were one of them when he does so. Ideally, there should be no mechanism by which anyone else can even find out what his job is, and if they do know they should still accept him as one of their own, even in the privacy of their own thoughts and feelings. I judge a person by what kind of person he is, not his social status, and I believe that this is something that Daoism encourages us to do. Yes, Confucius "saw that and assigned each his place in the structure of society", but who is Confucius to do that? Perhaps garbage men are more to be admired than princes. In that case, shouldn't etiquette demand that princes grovel before garbage men? I don't see that Confucius has any right to say otherwise. As for the rest, forgive me, but you don't know me that well. You say "You hate that because you don't like the place assigned you in society and you want equality so no one is better off than you." You're completely incorrect. I have no problem with lots of people being better off than me. But I'll rise or fall on the basis of what I do, in a society where all options are always open to me, not on the basis of where someone else "puts me", and I won't be trapped in a social class by the need to walk around with some sort of etiquette-based sign on my forehead saying that I belong to such-and-such a social class until someone says differently. You say "...someone has to be the head and another the asswhole. You don't like that. You want Daoism so no one gets to be the head even if everyone become asswholes." Again, you don't know me well enough to say what I like or don't like. I don't mind if having a "head" is necessary to have a prosperous society. Just so long as we have term-limits, and the opportunity to contest and re-contest for the head-ship, based on intelligence, compassion, and other desirable qualities. I've lived at both ends of society's digestive tract, and my attitudes towards liberty and opportunity, and my actions towards others, have always been the same. Confucianism's attitudes in this regard (as poorly as I understand them) are one of the reasons why I reject it. (Don't worry about the misspellings. Even the Dao isn't mighty enough to overcome some constraints. )
  4. What defines a Daoist?

    What I've translated of the received version seems to show a fairly uniform anti-Confucianism. One can only go so far in making statements based on the Guodian slips given how much is in the received version that they lack. Overall, the received version is so similar to the matching parts of both the Guodian slips and the Mawangdui silk texts that I don't suspect poor old Wang Bi of too much monkeying yet. But it will be a long time before I finish enough translating of my own to say anything with complete certainty. Curious that you should mention chapter 5. It's come up for me in other conversations elsewhere in the last few days. The fragment that you posted translates as "...the universe is not humane...". The other discussion centers around the question of whether the first part of chapter 5 is implying that this is a good thing or a bad thing. i.e. must one always be humane or are there exceptions.
  5. What defines a Daoist?

    Yes, although I see now that it was first published almost 3 years ago, not several months like I thought.
  6. What defines a Daoist?

    I'm afraid that's not something that I'm ever going to write. I was suggesting it as a methodology that you might use to demonstrate your point that the different traditions were, in some sense, the same. Aside from lacking the time or the interest, to me Daoism could fairly accurately be named "anti-Confucianism". Not only do I not believe that the two traditions are similar, but I believe that a large part of Laozi's message could be summarized: "I've had it with the oppressive, Confucian bastards who are running the government. Let's invent guns, line them up against the wall, and mow them down." Human nature hasn't changed that much over the millennia. If someone tells you that in order not to dishonor yourself you need to act in accordance with an etiquette that requires you to signal your lowly status to the world (in other words, grovel when the princess walks by) there are only two possibilities. First, the upper class is a bunch of sadists that get their thrills by making the peasants publicly humiliate themselves. Second, the upper class wants to enshrine submissive behavior into the culture so as to limit both upward mobility and thoughts of revolution. The only good answer to that sort of nonsense is to overthrow the government, and reduce the offending nobility (there might be a few good ones who don't deserve to suffer) to the level of garbage until they learn that the words "dignity" and "respect" apply to everyone. Then they can re-enter society as tradesmen and work their way up from scratch. Among the adjectives that I don't believe apply to Daoism are "Confucian", or "Buddhist".
  7. What defines a Daoist?

    I've always taken a somewhat simpler approach. To me a "Daoist" is "someone who practices Daoism". "Daoism" is basically "the doctrine recorded in the DDJ" or, if referring to the movement, "the social movement whose membership consists of the set of all Daoists". Certainly there's room for legitimate discussion as to whether or not part or all of some other works should be included, but I draw the line at going so far afield as to include direct borrowings from either Buddhism or Confucianism, both of which I see as radically different from Daoism. I don't have enough information to determine if the DDJ is a syncretic text or not. Lacking this, I just take it as a presentation of an internally consistent philosophy. If, one day, I come across original sources from that far back sufficient to make that judgement then I will. However, even if the DDJ does turn out to be formed from borrowings from many difference sources that may not make it "syncretic". If, for example, two different sources include the notion that "thou shall not kill", and both influence some philosopher who combines them into a single text that states "thou shall not kill", then I don't think that the resulting text is "syncretic", as it doesn't combine multiple traditions with different content. But I could be wrong. I'm not sure precisely how the term "syncretic" would be used when dealing with the merging of separate, but identical, traditions, or traditions that are different but whose precepts (logically speaking) imply each other. Good list of sources. As soon as I get a decade or so of free time I'll have to try to read them all. I've actually got an English translation of the complete Huainanzi waiting for me on my e-reader (a complete one was finally published just a few months ago), but it's so long it will probably take me forever to get through it.
  8. What defines a Daoist?

    Have you thought about heading south and visiting Australia or New Zealand?
  9. What does the Dao say about fighting?

    Assuming even remotely equivalent aptitude and training, the latter. Don't ever go into a real fight with the attitude that you're going to be nice to your opponent. That may sound really good in the reading room or the dojo, but in the inner-city where the crack-head is willing to kill you for enough money for his next fix, and possibly already high enough to keep fighting even with a bullet in him, and may have a gun concealed on his person that he's willing to shoot you with as you walk away thinking that you've won, that's asking to die. If you're unsure of this and have the opportunity, as some cops how they would answer the question.
  10. What defines a Daoist?

    The fact that some choose to practice all three traditions at the same time doesn't make them the same tradition. I know at least one hybrid Catholic/Daoist, but that doesn't mean that there's an identity, or even a similarity, between Catholicism and Daoism. The fact that there's a sect that syncretizes the three traditions also doesn't make them identical, any more than I can turn chocolate into peanut butter by making Reese's Pieces out of them. I was thinking more along the lines of taking the Three Treasures and showing that practicing them would, per force, cause one to exhibit each of the Confucian virtues, and vice-versa. i.e. literally making a list of the doctrinal points of each religion, and showing that practicing all of one would force one to practice all of the other, and vice-versa. This would prove an equivalence relationship between the two traditions. Or making the case, on sociological grounds, that the kind of society that would result from everyone becoming a devout Confucianist would be essentially the same as the kind of society that would result from everyone becoming a devout Daoist.
  11. What defines a Daoist?

    Again, not to seem argumentative (I have a gift for it), but... Of necessity. As far as I know, the earliest recorded indisputably Daoist text that we have, even if it wasn't called "Daoism" back then, is the DDJ from the Guodian Chu slips. Before that, what we might today call "Daoist doctrine" was an oral tradition whose content we have no way to verify. So if we're to discuss "early Daoism" in any meaningful fashion then we can't go much further back than the Guodian slips (very roughly 300 BC) without losing most of our confidence in the subject. By 100 AD we've already progressed to the point at which Daoism was being significantly affected by non-Daoist influences, such as the arrival of Buddhism via the "silk road". This being the case, when I speak of "early Daoism", or "classical Daoism", or "Dao Jia", I am, as far as I know, referring to Daoism as it existed from about 350 BC to about 50 AD. I accept the legitimacy of syncretic Daoist sects that contain significant non-Daoist influences acquired after 50 AD, such as Gods, elements of Buddhism, etc... but I disagree with them. That is, they still contain enough Daoism to be labelled "Daoism", but they're no longer purely Daoist. When I speak of Laozi "creating" Daoism I mean that in the sense that he was recording, espousing, and possibly expanding upon, part or all of an already existing oral tradition, whose further past we may never know anything about. I disagree with you when you seem to say that Daoism is defined by: "The first real movement to organize some thought about what is a Daoist was Huang-Lao period of Han. The great historian, Sima Qian, stated Daoist were a mix of the 'best of the rest'." First, the first real movement to organize some thought about "what is a Daoist" was the writing of the religious doctrine that we call the DDJ. The fact that they didn't call it "Daoism" then doesn't change that. He/they were assembling a doctrine by which they thought people should live, by whatever name. Second, to me using Sima Qian's work is a bit like having a written recording of the words and actions of Christ, and then stating that Christianity is as defined by some historian who came along several centuries later and syncretized the words and actions of Christ with material taken from several other admittedly non-Christian sources. By that logic, if Christianity had neither caught on, nor been defined yet, then I could come along tomorrow, syncretize it with ballet dancing, declare wearing pink tutus a sacrament, and from that point on "Christianity" would be formally defined in terms of both Christ and pink ballet tights, because I wrote about it first. Christianity is not defined in terms of what the first historian to write about it choose to say about it when he coined the term (what makes his opinion worth anything anyway?), it's defined in terms of what we know about the words and actions of Christ. Similarly, Daoism is not defined in terms of what Sima Qian chose to say about it when he wrote about it. What if he had turned out to be a serial killer and thought that the "best of the rest" included human sacrifices? Would we then mandate that Daoism had to include human sacrifices because a historian describing it centuries after the fact said so? Daoism is defined by the words and actions of Laozi, or at least the words and actions attributed to him in the DDJ, should he turn out not to be a single, or even real, person. The extent to which Sima Qian added in new, non-Daoist elements when he wrote about it several centuries later is the extent to which he got it wrong. If no elements of Buddhist doctrine are present in the DDJ, or in other similarly dated works, if you wish to include them in the Daoist canon, then there's no Buddhism in Daoism. Buddhist elements may have been adopted into some Daoist sects later, but that's what makes those Daoist sects "syncretic".
  12. What does the Dao say about fighting?

    Some people may feel that this is the case. Certainly not all do. A long time ago I took several years of jujutsu (badly). Everyone in the class was there because the school explicitly rejected spiritualism and concentrated on how to hurt, cripple or kill people who were trying to do the same to you. Not only are there many schools like this, but there are many that are not like this but whose advertisements attempt to make it seem as if they are, because they know that this draws in more paying students. This is because no matter what philosophers/spiritualists want, most students are only going to put in that kind of time and money if they can effectively use it for self-defense. If you're unsure of this, visit a Krav Maga class sometime. Or better yet, count the number of commercially successful martial arts classes that explicitly state in their advertisements, in large letters, that what they teach has no self-defense value, but will enhance your spirituality. If you're getting something spiritual out of it that's great. But I don't think that most practitioners would claim that that's what all martial arts theory amounts to.
  13. What defines a Daoist?

    That's an interesting supposition. We joked in some thread recently that every Daoist seems to be writing a book about Daoism. I think this is yours. If you can support this idea, that Confucianism and Daoism converge on the same outcome, it would make interesting reading.
  14. What defines a Daoist?

    Good point. Perhaps I should have said that it was an oral tradition that was first recorded in writing roughly at, or shortly after, the time of Confucius, apparently (to me, YMMV) in reaction to the Confucian authoritarianism and rigid social codes of the day, the philosophical foundations of which may also have existed long before Confucius was born.
  15. What defines a Daoist?

    Give me a couple of days to think about this one.