Bao Pu

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  1. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    Thanks for understanding my poorly written post. I have corrected it to read " The only text I haven't read that (supposedly) predates the Daodejing and Zhuangzi is the Chunqiu Zuozhuan, though I have read many parts."
  2. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    Marblehead, I agree, and have done my best. The only text I haven't read that (supposedly) predates the Daodejing and Zhuangzi is the Chunqiu Zuozhuan, though I have read many parts. I have read many bronze inscriptions and oracle bone divination texts. As for oral teachings later put to pen, I would need to be convinced that such a text was worth my time, as there is so much out there to study. Have you read any of the Huainanzi?
  3. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    Ya Mu, You have preconceptions of what pre-Han Daoism is about. I have tried to remove most of my preconceptions and am simply seeing what the evidence (which are only texts for the pre-Han era) tells us. I don't know what you mean when you claim I'm relying on translations of translations. Are 2000-year old bamboo slips and silk manuscripts translations of translations by non-practitioners? On the other hand, if you're not referring to pre-Han Daoism, then you are criticizing me for not doing a study on your field of interest, like criticizing someone who is writing on Karl Marx (1818-1883) for not taking into consideration 21st century communism. I've already written much about orally-transmited ideas in my essays, and so, don't deny it occurred. As for orally-transmited practices (that aren't written down), we can only guess. Even when they wrote down some of their practices, so much is left out that we can only make educated guesses. My guesses on the self-cultivation we find in the texts are found in my essay. Your point, I believe, is that my guesses are not educated enough. You are entitled to this opinion of course. I have often read that when the Daodejing or Zhuangzi says such-and-such, they are referring to the same thing that later qigong, taichi, or Daojiao practiced. I am reluctant to draw these lines without more evidence. Perhaps I am guilty of being over-cautious. And as for " If not, how is oral different than the written or considered to be less accurate?" Well, that is easy: a 2100-year old excavated manuscript accurately shows what was believed, practiced, or advocated 2100 years ago, whereas the fidelity of 2100 years of oral transmission is highly questionable. In fact, I bet if you were to read alot of practice manuals from the last 2000 years, you will find many teachers who said they were true inheritors of the old teachings and that the others were bogus. (And of course, they demonstrate the bias that older = better.) Your thinking really puzzles me. You are still assuming that modern practice is basically the same as those of - what?! Now 10,000 years ago? If the practices themselves magically demonstrate (through some sort of vision?) that they were invented in the year 7986 BCE (that's 10,000 years ago), then ... I am speechless. As far as I can see, the only way you can arrive at some ancient date of origination is by someone telling you this. The practice doesn't provide dates. And such a person, presumably a teacher, is just telling you what he or she was told. He or she doesn't really know this. It is simply faith-based. And I am sorry, no - actually I am not, but I do not have this faith. I am a skeptic. From my experience with people and orally-transmitted information, things all to easily change from telling to telling. Back in ancient China, the disciples of Confucius and Mozi famously could not agree on what their master had taught, and that was only within the first century after the master's death! Oral teachings do not undergo (intentional or inadvertent) distortion in transmission? They do not get re-interpreted according to the times? They do not get influenced by other cultures? Ya Mu, we have nothing more to talk about.
  4. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    I base it on the Analects mostly, but quotations of his in the Mencius and Xunzi also do not portray him interested in this divination manual. And that is basically what it was, before the more philosophical commentaries were written (which scholarly consensus says is 3rd century BCE).
  5. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    No one believes the Yijing commentaries were written by King Wen or his son anymore. From what we can tell, neither Confucius, Mozi, Laozi, Zhuangzi, Hanfeizi, Sunzi, Mencius or Xunzi had any interest in the divination of the Yijing. Sincerity is such a common value that you would need more than this to prove the authors of the Daodejing were influenced by the Yijing.
  6. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    If not here, then where?
  7. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    Ya Mu, re: "I have posted this on here before but my understanding started in the late 60's and by the early 70's I was one of those who THOUGHT they knew a great deal about Taoism and indeed referred to myself as a Taoist and even taught information from the classics to others, tossing around words like "wu wei" as if I really understood them. Which of course once the actual Taoist practices kicked in - as in a time period of doing them, I found that I was simply full of non-sense derived from a non-understanding of literal translations of translations which for the most part were not even steeped in the cultural experience from whence they came." In view of the historical nature of my study (i.e., the Daojia tradition of the pre-Han era), no modern Daoists are "steeped in the cultural experience from whence they [e.g., the authors of the Laozi and Zhuangzi] came." So much has changed in China in the last 2500 years. I'm not claiming absolutely nothing has remained, but that, without proof, it is just hearsay. There is no direct line of transmission from modern teachers of "Daoist practices" to the original authors of the Laozi and Zhuangzi. I think it quite naive to believe that a 21st century Daoist tradition has preserved a 2500 year-old tradition's practices without modification. Nobody could improve upon them? re: "I am not saying these texts hold no value but that the real understanding is much deeper than in the reading of them. Sometimes reading CAN trigger certain deeper memory or discovery that is unprecedented in one's journey. But it is the living of the thing itself that brings true understanding." Statements such as these suggest to me that you misunderstand my goals. My work is historical: what do we know about this so-called Daojia tradition that Sima Tan talked about? Who may they have been? What beliefs and practices may they have had, and by whom were they influenced? What historical events triggered certain stances on the issues of their day? My goal is NOT to tell one how to be a Daoist or live a fulfilling life. I am guilty as charged of sticking to the early texts. I would be a poor historian if I made claims about ancient things to which we have no evidence. My work is speculative enough as it is. re: "The oral traditions I learned which also coincide with the practices has indeed convinced me that concepts/teachings/knowledge called Taoism is much older than 2500 years - MUCH older." How does practice convince you that such practices are older than 2500 years old? How does practice provide information on the date of origination? And does ancient = better, in your opinion? To re-quote something dawei shared with us: Du was arguing that people of different generations interpret the Laozi according to the times they live in; the concerns and worldview they have at that particular point in time. That's why commentaries over the centuries differ. To assume that oral traditions (and their practices) don't evolve and change with the times is ridiculous. My essay examines most of the practices we find referred to in the early texts. If there are some you think I've misinterpreted because I'm not experienced in them, feel free to tell me about it.
  8. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    I doubt this is relevant; neither hearing the oral tradition nor practicing the practices would likely convince me they are 2500 years old.
  9. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    dawei, Yes. I trust you know what speculation means. To which archetypes are you referring?
  10. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    Ya Mu, Suffice to say that I am very skeptical that the philosophy and practices from 2500 years ago have been handed down faithfully in oral form. I suspect countless practitioners throughout the centuries have modified and supplemented the old teachings alot.
  11. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    dawei, Prior to the Laozi, Tian was the closest thing to a cosmic ancestor. Different from Laozi's Dao, it usually was conceived to have had a Will. (Xiang'er's commentary to the Laozi also affirmed the Dao had desires and a will). But without evidence that some idea existed, we are just guessing. I may have a perspective that is more "progressive" than you, by which I mean that certain ideas or observations came progressively, over time. It means little to say that Dao was used in the Daoist sense prior to the Laozi unless we can prove it. While it certainly did, when did this idea/observation develop? 310 BCE? 500 BCE? 1000 BCE? Our present evidence is the 4th century BCE. (In my paper on De, I mentioned that the word/concept existed prior to the written character chosen to represent it. But anything we want to say about it prior to its written attestation can be nothing more than speculation.) It seems people just want to push dates back into obscurity and deny that the ancients who left us writings were capable of coming up with new ideas, insights or realizations. With my study, it is not so much that all roads need to lead to Laozi and Zhuangzi, but that these texts represent the (hypothetical) tradition in question (i.e., Sima Tan's and Ban Gu's Daojia). Part 4.1 of my series does a decent job of explaining my objectives I think:
  12. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    Greetings dawei, The problem is that we have little else but written text. How do you propose we talk about early Daoism before written texts? You later wrote No problem with this, provided we are looking at actual evidence, which would be archaeological findings, I would guess. But then we'd have to show how these findings relate to what we find in later Daoism. In my case, however, I would need to show how these findings relate to the Laozi and Zhuangzi (and Huainanzi, etc), as this is my chosen field of study. My comments on Lin's words: As stated, daojia is what I am concerned with. I don't pretend to be qualified to speak on later manifestations. The problem here, in my opinion, is that he is not basing this on any facts. As shown in part 4.2 of my series, the Laozi was the first (extent) text that speaks of Dao as a cosmic ancestor, rather than simply a road or proper way of doing things. We have no records of anything 2300 years prior to his supposed lifetime, therefore, I will not take such claims seriously. I agree that the Daodejing is a collection of teachings or sayings from some sort of tradition. That "his" (editorial) work revitalized 'dao cultivation' is not really a factual statement based on any evidence. It depends on what we mean by 'invented' I suppose, but pu, ziran and (his version of) wuwei are found first in the Daodejing, so any claim that they were invented earlier lacks evidence. They were probably invented in the tradition that produced the Daodejing, but we don't know when exactly. We can speculate, but I think we should be clear that it is speculation. (Sorry to be so negative about Derek's words. Although I've only met him once, I quite liked him.) With regards to Kim, you say: I agree with you.
  13. Classical Daoism; is there really such a thing?

    Greetings. I just noticed that BaguaKicksAss shared a link to my essay. Thanks. I thought I'd make a couple comments regarding some of the replies. Marblehead wrote: "Yes, that is a valid way of looking at Taoism however it is not the way I view it. Different strokes for different folks." -- I can't be sure what you mean, but are you denying that quietistic self-cultivation practices were practiced by the authors of the Laozi and Zhuangzi, that "mind-fasting" and "sitting forgetting," for instance, were not actual practices? Dawei wrote: "One thing I have learned over the years is that anyone who tries to take LZ and ZZ as the starting point of Daoism just doesn't get it and isn't worth talking to about it." -- As stated in the first in the essay series, I am exploring whether the Daojia ("Daoism") that we find described in the Shiji and Hanshu histories attest to a school of thought in the pre-Han era. The relation to the Daoist religion is not part of this exploration. My discussion of some of Wang Chong's accounts in his Lunheng come the closest in this regard, for what he referred to as Daojia and the daoshi seems to me to attest to the beginnings of the religion. On the other hand, if you're arguing that the starting point of Daoism is earlier than the Laozi and Zhuangzi, I would cautiously assent to this, but would 1) like to know what criteria one is using (which is purpose behind the last two essays in the series), and 2) what textual evidence we have. "This site gives this somewhat simple breakdown: Proto-Daoism - Antiquity to 2nd Century, Classical Daoism - Era of Celestial Masters through Tang Dynasty 900 AD, Modern Daoism - Song Dynasty through 20th Century, Contemporary Daoism - The "near-total collapse."" -- According to this, my exploration is of your "proto-Daoism." I chose the term Classical Daoism over "early Daoism" or "philosophical Daoism" simply because I see the early tradition as being much more than "philosophical" and the classical era does start in the B.C.E. period. Regarding your "Daoism was not created on one specific date by a specific person. It was rather a result of preexisting Chinese philosophies and folk religions (such as shamanism) combining together." -- If this is your view, then how to divide proto-Daoism from your Classical Daoism? When did folk religion become Daoism? ChiDragon wrote: "I have just received this article in my email. To me, it is only an opinion of an one man's own interpretation. I will not use it as a factual reference." I would say yes and no to this. Obviously, it is my interpretation of the texts. But a number of people have referred to my essays as "state-of-the-field" studies, meaning, I present the views of many scholars in my review. And as for "factual reference," I try to include more quotations than most writers do and so think I do a decent job of letting the texts speak for themselves.
  14. I feel that Fuyi's version of line 8 (故彊字之曰道) is unattested in all other versions, so we should not put much weight in it. Just my opinion.