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2 精誠 Jingcheng The sincerity of the essence

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2 精誠 Jingcheng The sincerity of the essence

 

精誠: 2

老子曰:天設日月,列星辰,張四時,調陰陽。日以暴之,夜以息之,風以乾之,雨露以濡之。其生物也,莫見其所養而萬物長;其殺物也,莫見其所喪而萬物亡。此謂神明。是故聖人象之,其起福也,不見其所以而福起;其除禍也,不見其所由而禍除。稽之不得,察之不虛,日計不足,歲計有餘,寂然無聲,一言而大動天下,是以天心動化者也。故精誠內形,氣動於天,景星見,黃龍下,鳳皇至,醴泉出,嘉穀生,河不滿溢,海不波涌;逆天暴物,即日月薄蝕,五星失行,四時相乘,晝明宵光,山崩川涸,冬雷夏霜。天之與人,有以相通,故國之沮亡也,天文變,世或亂,虹蜺見,萬物有以相連,精氣有以相薄,故神明之事,不可以智巧為也,不可以強力致也。故大人與天地合德,與日月合明,與鬼神合靈,與四時合信,懷天心,抱地氣,執沖含和,不下堂而行四海,變易習俗,民化遷善,若生諸己,能以神化者也。

 

Lao-zi said: the Heaven sets up sun and moon, puts in order the constellations, extends the 4 seasons, regulates the yin-yang. The day is for exposure, the night is for rest, wind is for dryness, rain is for wetness.

Thus things are born, nobody sees how they are being nourished yet they grow’; thus things are killed, nobody sees how they are being ruined yet they perish. All of it is done by the bright spirits.

That is imitated by the sages, who raise blessings, nobody sees how yet blessings arise; who remove calamities, nobody sees how yet calamities are removed.

Not based on observation of the omens or signs, nor by calendrical calculation, but rather by preserving silence – one word (of the sages at the right moment) greatly moves the Under Heaven, because it comes out of Heavenly heart.

Because the sages have fine sincerity inside, their qi moves in sync with Heaven, auspicious stars are seen, yellow dragons descend, phoenixes arrive, sweet springs well up, bountiful crops grow, rivers do not overflow, sea-storms do not surge. If not so, then Heaven will harm things, the sun and moon will eclipse, 5 stars will lose way, four seasons will overlap, the daylight will shine at night, mountains will fall and rivers will dry, there will be thunder in winter and frost in summer.

For Heaven and people are in communication: (for, example) when an established kingdom is about to fall, there are Heavenly omens, the world comes to disorder, rainbows are seen, all things are in strife, the fine qi depletes – all of these are doings of bright spirits. These changes can not be caused by human cunning nor force.

Therefore (the only optimal way) is for the great men to join the De of Heaven and Earth, to join brightness of sun and moon, to join the numinosity of ghosts and spirits, to join the regularity of 4 seasons, to have the Heavenly heart in their bosoms, to embrace the earthly qi, to hold to the middle and to contain harmony, not exiting the palace travel between the 4 seas, to change the customs, to convert people onto the good ways, if so, when the allotted life span is over – they can become spirits themselves.

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其生物也,莫見其所養而萬物長;
其殺物也,莫見其所喪而萬物亡。
此謂神明。

Thus things are born, nobody sees how they are being nourished yet they grow’;
thus things are killed, nobody sees how they are being ruined yet they perish.
All of it is done by the bright spirits.

You know, the meaning of the term 神明(shen ming) had been bothering me for sometime. Finally, I have discovered a best translation which is "the gods/deities."


The contextual translation of the phase, ...... 此謂神明, is
This is called the will of the god/deity.

I think this is a closest translation for 精誠:
精誠(Jingcheng): absolute sincerity


Ref: The images of 神明(shen ming)

Edited by ChiDragon

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You know, the meaning of the term 神明(shen ming) had been bothering me for sometime. Finally, I have discovered a best translation which is "the gods/deities."

 

 

 

Yes naturally they are gods but of a special kind. The author is creating an ideological foundation for teh centralised empire that was formed under Han again after the initial but failed try of Qin.

 

So these bright gods are the imperial depersonalised and centralised gods as opposed to local tangible gods of grain altars, rivers and mountains of folk religion.

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I don't like this... <_<

 

I mean, scanning it I'm fairly sure I agree with your translation, but I don't care for what it's saying. Sounds nothing like the Laozi of the TTC, does it?

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It depends on what you believe LZ is: is it a unique stand-alone book, or part and parcel of the contemporary cultural multiverse. If its the former then nothing is provable and LZ could be about anything that pleases the gentle reader; if its the latter then LZ is a pragmatic theist as was everybody till maybe 100 years ago.

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Almost everyone 'practiced' some kind of theism until fairly recently, but that doesn't mean that everyone believed in deities until fairly recently.

 

Whilst attending a Protestant school and singing hymns and saying the Lord's Prayer every day, I decided that God didn't exist when I was around 7 years old.. what was to stop anyone from having a similar realization even two or three thousand years ago? We know that a number of Greek and Roman philosophers were either atheist or agnostic.

 

Anyway, it surely does depend on one's perception of the LZ as a part of this 'cultural multiverse', but from our linguistic study of the LZ thus far, I'm pretty sure that LZ himself took an agnostic position in his writing.

 

Can you point me towards rectifying or aligning this passage with any passage of the TTC?

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We know that a number of Greek and Roman philosophers were either atheist or agnostic.

This is interesting, not to argue but who?

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One can find a multitude of quotes on the internet and it becomes difficult to distinguish the real from the entirely false or misattributed. Here are just a couple of things that suggest, at the least, a great deal of scepticism regarding gods...

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicureanism

From Lactantius:

"But if this account is true, which the Stoics were in no manner able to see, that argument also of Epicurus is done away. God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them? I know that many of the philosophers, who defend providence, are accustomed to be disturbed by this argument, and are almost driven against their will to admit that God takes no interest in anything, which Epicurus especially aims at; but having examined the matter, we easily do away with this formidable argument. For God is able to do whatever He wishes, and there is no weakness or envy in God."

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diogenes_of_Sinope

"When I look upon seamen, men of science and philosophers, man is the wisest of all beings; when I look upon priests and prophets nothing is as contemptible as man."
"Man is the measure of all things: of the things that are, that they are, of the things that are not, that they are not."

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Yes naturally they are gods but of a special kind. The author is creating an ideological foundation for teh centralised empire that was formed under Han again after the initial but failed try of Qin.

 

So these bright gods are the imperial depersonalised and centralised gods as opposed to local tangible gods of grain altars, rivers and mountains of folk religion.

 

The translations I have seen of this word, of course in context, seem to be:

- the spiritual and numinous

- the spirits and the illuminated

- the spirits and Luminaries

 

One very interesting approach is they are opposites and thus serve as a Yin-Yang archtype... There is good support for this but again... in context.

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I don't like this... <_<

 

I mean, scanning it I'm fairly sure I agree with your translation, but I don't care for what it's saying. Sounds nothing like the Laozi of the TTC, does it?

 

Yes, you are right. The message was from a Taoist religious group rather than came from the TTC. As far as I know, LZ is an atheist. He only recognize Tao. Tao is not a deity/god but existed before any god had ever known by human.

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Can you point me towards rectifying or aligning this passage with any passage of the TTC?

Sure,

 

here is your god

 

道沖而用之或不盈。淵兮似萬物之宗。挫其銳,解其紛,和其光,同其塵。湛兮似或存。吾不知誰之子,象之先 4

 

here is your ghosts and spirits

 

昔之得一者:天得一以清;地得一以寧;神得一以靈;谷得一以盈;萬物得一以生;侯王得一以為天下貞。其致之,天無以清,將恐裂;地無以寧,將恐發;無以靈,將恐歇;谷無以盈,將恐竭;萬物無以生,將恐滅;侯王無以貴高將恐蹶。故貴以賤為本,高以下為基。是以侯王自稱孤、寡、不穀。此非以賤為本耶?非乎?故致數譽無譽。不欲琭琭如玉,珞珞如石。 39

 

 

治大國若烹小鮮。以道蒞天下,其鬼不神;非其鬼不神,其神不傷人;非其神不傷人,聖人亦不傷人。夫兩不相傷,故德交歸焉。60

 

 

and most importantly Dao. Its ironic that materialists / atheists embrace Dao so eagerly, becouse it is the most prominently anti-materialist concept one can find. Kinda like evolution but even more so.

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吾不知誰之子,象帝之先
I don't know who's son it is, but it seems to be existed before god.

This 帝 has the ancient meaning as "god" which is the human's god. Lao Zi was addressing the humans in their terms.

Edited by ChiDragon

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Ah...back to this again.

 

 

ch4 doesn't necessarily refer to God/god.

帝,君也。 《尔雅》

And if it does, it's saying no more than "Dao came before gods", which could easily be the same as me saying "nature came before religion"

 

 

ch60... we covered 60, didn't we? I personally concluded that it's not confirming the existence of gods..and possibly even denying them...though I'm not sure where you came down on that in the end.

 

I'll have a look at ch39.

 

 

As far as "materialism".. there are a few discussions on TTB about this, I'm fairly sure: many agree that many ideas expressed in Daoist, Buddhist, and Hindu philosophy can be paralleled with modern science very easily. Interestingly, Epicurus's philosophy can be paralleled with both of these -- the Cynics and Epicureans were very much similar to Laozi and Zhuangzi in spirit. And basically atheist.

 

And I don't know what you mean about evolution... how is evolution not purely material?

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As far as "materialism".. there are a few discussions on TTB about this, I'm fairly sure: many agree that many ideas expressed in Daoist, Buddhist, and Hindu philosophy can be paralleled with modern science very easily.

That is very likely given that modern science is a religion. ;) But that's beside the point. The point is LZ's main subject - the Dao is easily understandable from the mystical POV. What is it from the materialist POV?

 

 

 

And I don't know what you mean about evolution... how is evolution not purely material?

 

i recommend this article, very witty.

 

 

 

I wanted to see how serious proponents of evolutionary biology would respond to awkward questions.

It was like giving a bobcat a prostate exam. I got everything but answers. They told me I was a crank, implied over and over that I was a Creationist, said that I was an enemy of science (someone who asks for evidence is an enemy of science). They said that I was trying to pull down modern biology (if you ask questions about an aspect of biology, you want to pull down biology). They told me I didn’t know anything (that’s why I was asking questions), and that I was a mere journalist (the validity of a question depends on its source rather than its content).

But they didn’t answer the questions. They ducked and dodged and evaded.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/2005/03/fred-reed/skeptic-of-darwinism/

Edited by Taoist Texts
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Ah...back to this again.

 

 

ch4 doesn't necessarily refer to God/god.

帝,君也。 《尔雅》

And if it does, it's saying no more than "Dao came before gods", which could easily be the same as me saying "nature came before religion"

 

Exactly...!!! I couldn't agree more.

During the Warring States, 君 was only used as "ruler" in small countries and 帝(天子) was used for "emperor" in the Han Dynasty. 帝 means the supreme ruler of the land which rules all of the 君 under the feudal system.

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ch4 doesn't necessarily refer to God/god.

帝,君也。 《尔雅》

And if it does, it's saying no more than "Dao came before gods", which could easily be the same as me saying "nature came before religion"

 

Heshang Gong appears to take Di (帝) as short version of Tian Di (天帝).

 

That is not unreasonable given that Di (帝) was prior to that short for Shang Di (上帝).

 

And LZ wrote prior to Han... so I don't take it as 'ruler' here.

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Exactly...!!! I couldn't agree more.

During the Warring States, 君 was only used as "ruler" in small countries and 帝(天子) was used for "emperor" in the Han Dynasty. 帝 means the supreme ruler of the land which rules all of the 君 under the feudal system.

 

We've been agreeing a lot recently... it's weird ^_^

 

 

 

That is very likely given that modern science is a religion. ;) But that's beside the point. The point is LZ's main subject - the Dao is easily understandable from the mystical POV. What is it from the materialist POV?

 

You're aware of my view that modern science/atheism is very much like a religion?

Some people use science as religious people use religion, yes. Some people claim that science & tech can solve all the world's problems and lead us into a future of peace and happiness. To me, that's clear nonsense... I don't hold modern science, and especially the technology that comes from it, up as some kind of 'answer'. I think the answer lies within each person (which, incidentally, is very much a 'mystic' way of looking at things).

 

Having said that, every conclusion that comes from good science - i.e. every empirically proved conclusion - is more provably true than any conclusion that comes from waving one's hands around or throwing sticks in the air.

 

Mysticism, from Google:

belief that union with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender

 

(my bold). Removing the 'Deity', this is not incompatible with modern science or my idea of Daoism.

 

The rationale behind any system believing in deities is that there's some invisible dude over there doing crazy shit that we can't understand. How can anyone support that?

 

As far as Dao is understandable, it's understandable from your so-called 'materialist' point of view -- because a materialist point of view is concerned with the material world, which is everything that exists.

 

Nowhere in the TTC does it say that gods created anything. What it does say is:

 

又壯蟲成 Something great gave way to all form;

先天地生 Born before Heaven and Earth,

敚綉蜀立不亥 Morphing and hazy, singular and limitless,

可以為天下母 It is the mother of all things;

未智丌名 Its name is unknown,

字之曰道 We refer to it as the Way

 

This is not entirely incompatible with modern physics.

 

It's also interesting to note that the Greek, Norse, Taoist, and a number of other creation stories begin with a chaos/void/singularity. Even the Biblical creation story begins with a void. The Taoist one, as seen in ch.25 above, is simply one of the more sensible, avoiding the mention of big bearded men falling fully-formed out of nowhere and zapping things.

 

 

i recommend this article, very witty.

 

 

http://www.lewrockwell.com/2005/03/fred-reed/skeptic-of-darwinism/

 

Firstly, the theory of evolution isn't claimed to be 'proven'. It's widely acknowledged that we don't know how life as we know it began. That doesn't mean that creator gods like Cronus or Ymir are real.

 

Secondly, proponents of Darwinism don't claim to know how life began -- only that it evolves. And that life evolves is patently obvious to anyone paying attention. So, evolution doesn't really have anything to do with what we're talking about, if you ask me.

 

I also don't know how life on Earth began. The loveliest answers to me, though, are

- that it formed by accident from this primordial 'soup', evolving from a simple combination of chemicals into more and more complex combinations

- that it was brought to Earth from elsewhere, having evolved to a certain stage elsewhere

 

This doesn't contradict the idea of Dao, and is (to me) far more reasonable than saying "Well, probably some invisible guy rubbed his hands together and said 'Abracadabra!' "

 

(Where did the invisible guy come from?)

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As far as Dao is understandable, it's understandable from your so-called 'materialist' point of view -- because a materialist point of view is concerned with the material world, which is everything that exists.

 

Nowhere in the TTC does it say that gods created anything. What it does say is:

 

又壯蟲成 Something great gave way to all form;

先天地生 Born before Heaven and Earth,

敚綉蜀立不亥 Morphing and hazy, singular and limitless,

可以為天下母 It is the mother of all things;

未智丌名 Its name is unknown,

字之曰道 We refer to it as the Way

 

This is not entirely incompatible with modern physics.

 

It's also interesting to note that the Greek, Norse, Taoist, and a number of other creation stories begin with a chaos/void/singularity. Even the Biblical creation story begins with a void. The Taoist one, as seen in ch.25 above, is simply one of the more sensible, avoiding the mention of big bearded men falling fully-formed out of nowhere and zapping things.

 

I'm a little confused why this has now lead to describing western ideas of a transcendent, creative god comparisons...

 

We're talking about 'god' as a word used in daoism, not western religions. They are quite different than a Creator in the first place. Only Dao comes close; as does The One.

 

 

Where does god(s) come from in the eastern [Taoist] sense?

 

(feel free to replace god with spirits or ghosts as all three have the same origin)

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Argh...I'd written a response to you dawei but my browser went funny.

I'd done a partial translation of this Wenzi chapter and didn't save it!!

 

Basically, you're right: I went a little overboard with my defense of Laozi's Daoism as not creationist nonsense. Sorry.

There's no mention of any gods creating anything in the TTC, and that's all I need to know.

 

The end of this chapter could be translated:

 

故大人與天地合德,與日月合明,與鬼神合靈,與四時合信,懷天心,抱地氣,執沖含和,不下堂而行四海,變易習俗,民化遷善,若生諸己,能以神化者也

So if great men unite their De with Heaven and Earth, unite their brightness with that of the Sun and Moon, unite their spirit with that of ghosts and gods, unite their faith with the four seasons, embrace Heaven's heart, hold Earth's breath, follow harmony, travel the four seas without ever leaving paradise, change their customs, and convert the people to goodness, when their allotted lifespan is over they can merge with the gods

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Dustybeijing...

Finally, we do have a little disagreement. I see it to read them this way:
不下堂而行四海,變易習俗,
Not leaving one's home but can see the events within the four seas and change the old traditions;

民化遷善,若生諸己,能以神化者也
Educate the people to be kind. If one lives on selfishness, then one may elevate oneself to be recognized as god.

Anotation:
民化: 教化人民 (to educate the people)
神化: 是指把一個人高舉至的地步(to elevate oneself to be in the same level as god); to impersonate god.

Ref:神化 = impersonate god

Edited by ChiDragon
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2 精誠 Jingcheng The sincerity of the essence

 

Lao-zi said: the Heaven sets up sun and moon, puts in order the constellations, extends the 4 seasons, regulates the yin-yang. The day is for exposure, the night is for rest, wind is for dryness, rain is for wetness.

 

Very reminiscent of the Tai Yi Sheng Shui, the oldest cosmology... so that would be good text to know.

 

Thus things are born, nobody sees how they are being nourished yet they grow’; thus things are killed, nobody sees how they are being ruined yet they perish. All of it is done by the bright spirits.

 

While LZ simply says in CH. 51 that Dao produces and De nourishes, Wenzi shows the cosmology and DaoDe of 51 are a result of the spirits (carried out by spirits).

 

There are many ancient texts saying the same thing but one example is the Book of Rites says

"The mountains, forests, rivers, valleys, and hills which can send out cloud, make wind and rain and cause to appear strange phenomena are called spirits (Shen). -- Puett

 

That is imitated by the sages, who raise blessings, nobody sees how yet blessings arise; who remove calamities, nobody sees how yet calamities are removed.

Not based on observation of the omens or signs, nor by calendrical calculation, but rather by preserving silence – one word (of the sages at the right moment) greatly moves the Under Heaven, because it comes out of Heavenly heart.

Because the sages have fine sincerity inside, their qi moves in sync with Heaven, auspicious stars are seen, yellow dragons descend, phoenixes arrive, sweet springs well up, bountiful crops grow, rivers do not overflow, sea-storms do not surge. If not so, then Heaven will harm things, the sun and moon will eclipse, 5 stars will lose way, four seasons will overlap, the daylight will shine at night, mountains will fall and rivers will dry, there will be thunder in winter and frost in summer.

 

This is reminscent of Zhuangzi talking of Zhen Ren or Xian Ren. The Neiye, Inner Cultivation, says:

Floating Between Heaven and Earth is what we call spirits and ghosts; stored within one's chest we call it a Sage".

 

Puett remarks himself, "Human sages , in other words, contain within themselves the same substance found in spirits. "

 

For Heaven and people are in communication: (for, example) when an established kingdom is about to fall, there are Heavenly omens, the world comes to disorder, rainbows are seen, all things are in strife, the fine qi depletes – all of these are doings of bright spirits. These changes can not be caused by human cunning nor force.

 

Who was the Heaven-Earth intercessor? The Shaman.

 

So we have the spirits and ghosts floating between and the Shaman as the intercessor. The shaman was a sage who possess the same substance as the spirits.

 

Ancient texts which mention Qi relate how there is a spirit which resides within each person and the basic goal is to give it a calm residence; to keep the spirit within. This is sometimes described as self-divination but this is to be understood as much more ancient than later religious arisings. Spiritual understanding was well established before religions.

 

 

Therefore (the only optimal way) is for the great men to join the De of Heaven and Earth, to join brightness of sun and moon, to join the numinosity of ghosts and spirits, to join the regularity of 4 seasons, to have the Heavenly heart in their bosoms, to embrace the earthly qi, to hold to the middle and to contain harmony, not exiting the palace travel between the 4 seas, to change the customs, to convert people onto the good ways, if so, when the allotted life span is over – they can become spirits themselves.

 

I will say that I like DustyBeijing's version which suggests "unite their [ ] with". Nice alternative idea... but it seems to fall apart at this...

 

與鬼神合靈

Together | Ghosts | Spirits | Unite | LING

 

Ling - 靈 - Picture of a Shaman calling down the rains

 

The Ling Shu states:

"The jing qi of yang is called shen; the jing qi of yin is called ling.

 

LZ said in 39: 神得一以靈

- Through possession of the One, the gods were spiritualized, - Lin Yutang

- The Spirit by Unity has become spiritual; - Chu Ta-Kao

- Gods realized primal unity and so came to spirit. - Hinton

 

IMO, Wenzi is saying the same thing as LZ 39 only in a different way.

 

 

不下堂而行四海,[變易習俗]- Does not go into the hall yet travels the four seas. [goes with next section]

 

I prefer 堂 as its often simple rendering, "Hall", where one welcomed their visitors. It is one of two places important in the house, along with the kitchen.

 

Heshang Gong on commenting on LZ 27:1 (a good traveler leave no tracks) uses 不下堂 to say:

The good traveler of the Way seeks himself; He does not go down to the hall or out the gate; he leaves no track.

 

3. 變易習俗, 民化遷善,若生諸己,能以神化者也 - You become different with changes in customs/traditions. The people transform along to Betterment. One births a spiritual self.

 

I don't like 'convert' the people; 'Educate sits better but feels too Confucian; I think one needs to tie in the previous few characters which point out that one needs to change with [changing] customs/traditions;

 

Wenzi says elsewhere that the day changes and there is something better which results. The similarity in the lines tells me that 遷善 is not simply really about human virtue.

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Perhaps this should be discussed in ttc39 but for now just wanted to point something out, based partly on your point about 靈 dawei

 

昔之得一者:天得一以清;地得一以寧;神得一以靈

[...]

神無以靈,將恐歇

 

If we take ling 靈 to mean shaman, this is essentially saying "... gods came about by way of shamans [...] without shamans there are no gods"

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神得一以靈

Deity has gained One will be efficacious.

 

The contextual meaning of 靈, in the phrase, is most difficult to comprehend or translate.

 

Annotation:

靈, here, means efficacious.

神: deity; god

一: One; it is Tao

 

Deity has supernatural power. However, the power is useless without the assistance of Tao(One). The super power will become effective as soon it was blessed by Tao. So, to speak.

 

This also has an indication that Tao is above all which corresponds to:

吾不知誰之子,
象帝之先

I don't know who's son it is, but
it seems to be existed before god.

Edited by ChiDragon

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Perhaps this should be discussed in ttc39 but for now just wanted to point something out, based partly on your point about 靈 dawei

 

昔之得一者:天得一以清;地得一以寧;神得一以靈

[...]

神無以靈,將恐歇

 

If we take ling 靈 to mean shaman, this is essentially saying "... gods came about by way of shamans [...] without shamans there are no gods"

 

I am not trying to say that Ling means Shaman; that is the character pictograph.

 

Shaman's were the intercessor between Heaven-Earth... but the other texts show that it is the spirits floating between H-E; within the chest this is called the Sage.

 

So there is established a connection about what the Shaman did/does and it really relates to the Spirits (Shen); they are of the same substance. It is in this light that we need to understand what LING means when used in relation to SHEN.

 

And it shows another tie to LZ in regards to spirit (SHEN, LING).

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Dao endows; De empowers; LING effects the endowment and empowerment between Heaven-Earth. It points to Spirits and the spiritual; Thus, it points to the intercessory aspect between Dao and the manifest world in a spiritual way.

 

 

The Returned Spirit (Gui Ling) of Traditional Chinese Medicine - Jarrett
The etymology of the character for ling reveals its inner meaning. Above we have heaven down from which come clouds with four drops of rain. In the middle we have three mouths, and below, two shaman offering jade and dance to heaven. The image here is of a ritual dance for rain. The notion contained in ling is that, through the appropriate performance of ritual, it is possible to effect changes in heaven. Hence, ling has the associated meanings of spiritual, mysterious, supernatural power or
effect, transcendent, and marvelous. Mathews defines ling as "The spirit of a being, which acts upon others. In religious Daoism the ling is the aspect of spirit which, after death, manifests itself in an efficacious manner to protect its descendents.
The sages "power" (ling) to awaken the highest in others is derived from her internal alignment with heaven and her establishment of ming. When one is in the presence of another who is exactly where they ought to be it is a transforming experience. The sage, perfectly aligned between heaven and earth, is able to create the context in which spiritual
transformation occurs in those receptive to her presence.
The Spiritual World of a Hakka Village - Carstens
Among the most commonly shared tales are those that demonstrate the miraculous efficacy (ling 靈) of the major protectors of the Pulai community: Guanyin and Maniang, often referred to collectively as Niang Niang (娘娘).

 

 

My only aim is to make clear that LING is not just a dictionary word as 'efficacy'. It can be translated as such but some background helps to establish the spiritual power being spoken of. (In a similar vein, if someone translates DE 德 as 'efficacy', they will understand the deepest meaning because of their understanding of DE).

 

Today, we just translate and may forget the pictograph to give us that idea of the efficacy of the Shaman calling down the rains; interceding between Heaven-Earth because he is of the same substance of the Spirits. Thus, his power (LING) to do so is better understood.

 

 

Added: TT translation of LING as numinosity when talking about spirits seems to best to convey the meaning :)

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