Marblehead

The Chuang Tzu

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So, did people get bored? Seems like a lot of chapters haven't been covered?

 

I've been reading a few bits from the Outer Chapters, notably Ingrained Ideas, and was looking for the thread in which to discuss it...but I don't want to jump the gun or create a thread if there is one (and I'm too dim to find it)

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So, did people get bored? Seems like a lot of chapters haven't been covered?

Yeah, folks got bored a second time. That ended up being an "Oh, well".

 

I've been reading a few bits from the Outer Chapters, notably Ingrained Ideas, and was looking for the thread in which to discuss it...but I don't want to jump the gun or create a thread if there is one (and I'm too dim to find it)

I am always ready to discuss Chuang Tzu. Afterall, I am more of a Chuangist than I am a Laoist.

 

So sure, do any Chapter/Section you want. If enough people participate we might end up discussion the entire Chuang Tzu after a few years.

Edited by Marblehead
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Tomorrow, then. http://ctext.org/zhuangzi/ingrained-ideas

 

This would be titled, "Chuang Tzu chapter 15" ?

Assuming all parts should be looked at together...

Sounds good to me.

 

I have found that the smaller the section of any particular chapter the better. When we get three or more concepts going within one section people lose interest quickly.

 

But do your thing and get a feel of how other respond to it.

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Great! Chuang Tzu my favourite, too.

 

From part 2:

 

"He does not indulge any anxious doubts; he does not lay plans beforehand."

 

Hmm... I'm pretty good at implementing the second part of this sentence. Still working on the first part, though. Brings a lot of questions to my mind. Such as: Is Chuang Tzu really suggesting to never plan ahead for possible future situations? Simply improvise when necessary? Are my (occasional) anxious doubts in this regard the real problem, keeping me from being a complete Chuangist? Do I want my wife to read this post of mine?

 

Thanks for your thoughts!

Edited by Michael Sternbach
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From part 2:

 

"He does not indulge any anxious doubts; he does not lay plans beforehand."

 

Hmm... I'm pretty good at implementing the second part of this sentence. Still working on the first part, though. Brings a lot of questions to my mind. Such as: Is Chuang Tzu really suggesting to never plan ahead for possible future situations? Simply improvise when necessary? Are my (occasional) anxious doubts in this regard the real problem, keeping me from being a complete Chuangist? Do I want my wife to read this post of mine?

 

Thanks for your thoughts!

Well, if you show this post to your wife she will likely ask you what you mean by that so you better plan ahead and make sure you have a very good reply to her question.

 

I think that "anxious doubts" is concern of success or failure. Remember, the Sage has no concerns about this. (S)he does what seems natural at the time.

 

I'm not sure about the "laying plans beforehand" though. Unless it is speaking to having expectations of specific results from our actions.

 

Remember, Chuang Tzu recommends living spontaneously, being true to our nature. Planning ahead will almost always get in the way of living spontaneously. But then, we do need plan ahead, don't we? So it is here where we need practice balancing those things we do in life. Planning ahead today allows us to live more spontaneously tomorrow.

 

I don't think "improvise" is good in this discussion. What we do should be done as efficiently as possible. Always.

 

Yes, anxious doubts will hold us back from reaching our full capacities and capabilities. Eliminate fear and accept the result of our best efforts.

 

BTW I think you already are a good Chuangist based on what you have said in the various threads.

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My life thus far has been a series of unmade plans.

 

As Alan Watts mentions, one can make plans spontaneously. I think the idea might be not to lay out large life-plans that cannot possibly come to fruition.

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Well, if you show this post to your wife she will likely ask you what you mean by that so you better plan ahead and make sure you have a very good reply to her question.

I will suggest that she reads Chuang Tzu.

 

I think that "anxious doubts" is concern of success or failure. Remember, the Sage has no concerns about this. (S)he does what seems natural at the time

Hmm... If I wouldn't desire to succeed I wouldn't even bother trying something. I guess the art is to let the idea of success sink into the unconscious, then act without thinking of it any longer.

 

I'm not sure about the "laying plans beforehand" though. Unless it is speaking to having expectations of specific results from our actions.

 

Remember, Chuang Tzu recommends living spontaneously, being true to our nature. Planning ahead will almost always get in the way of living spontaneously. But then, we do need plan ahead, don't we? So it is here where we need practice balancing those things we do in life. Planning ahead today allows us to live more spontaneously tomorrow.

Right; the proper balance is what the art of living is all about.

 

I don't think "improvise" is good in this discussion. What we do should be done as efficiently as possible. Always.

Agreed. But this includes the ability to improvise, doesn't it?

 

Yes, anxious doubts will hold us back from reaching our full capacities and capabilities. Eliminate fear and accept the result of our best efforts.

A helpful reminder. Thanks.

 

BTW I think you already are a good Chuangist based on what you have said in the various threads.

Thanks again! :)

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My life thus far has been a series of unmade plans.

 

As Alan Watts mentions, one can make plans spontaneously. I think the idea might be not to lay out large life-plans that cannot possibly come to fruition.

 

I think you may set your goals as high as you wish - as long as you are able to pursue them in a balanced way, without anxiety.

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That's cool.. set as many goals as high as you like, but....don't expect me to!

 

“The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”

—— Alan Watts

 

For some people, the goal is to have goals. They're not happy unless they have something to "achieve".

 

I feel that many people run around in this great panic trying to set and achieve these goals without ever asking why. I think this is what Mr Zhuang was talking about, perhaps.

 

Now, I suppose that I have a current goal of improving my understanding of Taoism, Chinese, and translation, by translating the Laozi. But it's not a target I set for myself..it just happened one day. I thought it might be fun.

 

Maybe I'd be happier if I'd set some early financial goals, achieved them, and had more money right now. But I don't think so.

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I will suggest that she reads Chuang Tzu.

Great idea!

 

Hmm... If I wouldn't desire to succeed I wouldn't even bother trying something. I guess the art is to let the idea of success sink into the unconscious, then act without thinking of it any longer.

This is the question that comes up during any discussion of wu wei. We do things because they need to be done. And yes, when we realize something needs be done we will do it, do our best job at it, and let the results fall where they may.

 

Agreed. But this includes the ability to improvise, doesn't it?

 

Absolutely. But I don't want to emphasize improvising here. If we have the time and money we should buy the proper tools and materials and parts to do the best we can.

 

And yes, in the Army I had to improvise many, many times. And this will be needed throughout our life.

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Great idea!

 

She'll find it under the X-mas tree.

 

This is the question that comes up during any discussion of wu wei. We do things because they need to be done. And yes, when we realize something needs be done we will do it, do our best job at it, and let the results fall where they may.

 

The trick is to do things without unnecessary tension and effort. (See internal martial arts.)

 

Absolutely. But I don't want to emphasize improvising here. If we have the time and money we should buy the proper tools and materials and parts to do the best we can.

 

And yes, in the Army I had to improvise many, many times. And this will be needed throughout our life.

 

Oh boy! The US government invests so many $$ in all that fancy high-tech army equipment yet you had to do the job in this style?

 

 

I thought they left the improvisation thing to NASA.

 

Edited by Michael Sternbach
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That's cool.. set as many goals as high as you like, but....don't expect me to!

 

I don't expect anything from you except that you chat with me, cyber pal. :)

 

—— Alan Watts

 

For some people, the goal is to have goals. They're not happy unless they have something to "achieve".

 

I feel that many people run around in this great panic trying to set and achieve these goals without ever asking why. I think this is what Mr Zhuang was talking about, perhaps.

 

Rather than just to be. I know what you mean. When on a train, I always wonder why so many people get off their seats and go to the doors long before the train has actually arrived.

 

Now, I suppose that I have a current goal of improving my understanding of Taoism, Chinese, and translation, by translating the Laozi. But it's not a target I set for myself..it just happened one day. I thought it might be fun.

 

That sounds like a meaningful goal. I think that by bestowing fun on you, the Tao (or whatever you like to call it) is letting you know that you are on the right track. (Well, for the most part.) Epicurus knew this, too.

 

Maybe I'd be happier if I'd set some early financial goals, achieved them, and had more money right now. But I don't think so.

 

Well, the happiness is what matters - not the money as such. A survey showed that the people who are happiest (on average) are living in Bangladesh! On the other hand, it's (almost) never too late to go for anything you like (if you like),

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I still see a problem in being without goals: I just don't like being without goals, and achieving nothing. It feels like a wasted day when I go to bed without have accomplished anything. Couldn't it be that wanting to achieve something is part of our inborn nature, at least for some of us. And that forcing ourselves to wander aimlessly when we feel an inner drive to accomplish something is literally unhealthy for some of us. 

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Interesting concept here.  Wu Wei.

 

Okay.  First let me say that wu wei suggests that if there is nothing that needs be done then don't be messing with what is already in order.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

 

Then there is the thought that wu wei is actually saying "action without intent".

 

But is that really possible unless we are totally stoned?  I think not.  I believe that we mush have intent prior to our being able to put our body into action.

 

However, I do hold to the concept of "action without alterior intent".  That is to say, action with intent that is perfectly clear, specific, and not to be misunderstood.

 

An example?  I do something nice for a woman's child in hopes that the woman will return the kindness and take me to bed.

 

That would be action "with" alterior intent.  That's not wu wei.

 

I can't recall ever suggesting that we should not have goals in life.  I have both long-term and short-term goals even though my long-term goals are becoming shorter.  That's because I don't want any goals interfering with my ability to live spontaneously.

 

 

 

 

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If I may ... I agree with idea that ulterior motive most frequently indicates inappropriate action ... when something is being done to manipulate the natural progression of things.

 

I occasioanlly see wuwei translated as "non-interference". I take this to mean that things should be left to move along according to their manner of natural change and timing.

 

As for goals, aren't we acting with intent when we set a goal?  Makes me wonder what is meant by intent. Can there be good intent, bad intent?

 

What if I set a goal for myself. At what point am I erring in the pursuit of my goals? If I am acting with virtue ... from a well considered position and with understanding of how things naturally evolve ... and let things take their course without trying to force an outcome ... could that be considered a kind of wuwei?

Edited by OldDog
Grammer, spelling

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On 5/17/2018 at 4:02 AM, Marblehead said:

Interesting concept here.  Wu Wei.

 

Okay.  First let me say that wu wei suggests that if there is nothing that needs be done then don't be messing with what is already in order.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

 

Then there is the thought that wu wei is actually saying "action without intent".

 

But is that really possible unless we are totally stoned?  I think not.  I believe that we mush have intent prior to our being able to put our body into action.

 

However, I do hold to the concept of "action without alterior intent".  That is to say, action with intent that is perfectly clear, specific, and not to be misunderstood.

 

An example?  I do something nice for a woman's child in hopes that the woman will return the kindness and take me to bed.

 

 

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."

 

Edited by Alchemical Walrus
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4 minutes ago, Alchemical Walrus said:

 

 

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."

 

Chuang  , was an intellectual adversary of Confucius , the errors abound in this here... one shouldn't equate any of this with the sentiments of Chuang himself. .... IMO

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6 hours ago, Alchemical Walrus said:

I think it's best understood as "action without attachment". 

Yes, I find that completely acceptable as well.

 

"Action without action" just doesn't float in my mind.

 

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On 5/21/2018 at 3:46 PM, Marblehead said:

Yes, I find that completely acceptable as well.

 

"Action without action" just doesn't float in my mind.

 

 

Here's an action you may want to take: Sit down for this news!

 

I'm going to start reading ChuangTzu.

I have the Feng/English translation of Inner Chapters.

 

9780394719900-us-300.jpg

 

I'm sure there's a Chapter 1 thread here somewhere...lol... so I'll be doing a lot of bumping up - if that's okay?

I figure with half a brain left it's the perfect time...B):P:lol:

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