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Yueya

The Dao is Sacred?

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In The Daoist Tradition, Louis Komjathy  delineates Daoist theology as follow….

 

Before examining Daoist theology, it is also helpful to understand the various types of theology, with some modifications in order to make space for non-theistic views in a comparative framework. We may identify at least the following theologies: animistic, atheistic, monistic, monotheistic, panenhenic, pantheistic, panentheistic, and polytheistic. Animisitic theologies hold that nature is populated by personal gods and/or spiritual entities. Such deities and spirits tend to be place-specific. Although resistant to such designations, atheistic theology, which is technically anti-theological, denies the existence of gods, especially the Abrahamic god ("God"). Monistic theologies hold that there is one impersonal Reality. Monotheistic theologies hold that there is one supreme, personal god, usually with conventional attributes of personhood and agency (e.g. God the Creator, God the Father). Panenhenic theology holds that Nature as a whole is sacred. Pantheistic theology claims that the sacred is in the world, that the world is a manifestation of the sacred. Because this creates certain theological problems, such as the diminishment of the sacred through extinction, some theological discourse tends towards panentheism, that is, that the sacred is in and beyond the world. Under this view, there is both an immanent (world-affirming) and transcendent (world-negating) aspect. Finally, polytheistic theology is belief in many gods. These various theologies may not be mutually exclusive or necessarily irreconcilable.

 

The primary Daoist theology is monistic, panenhenic, and panentheistic. Daoist theology is secondarily animistic and polytheistic. Daoist theology centers, first and foremost, on the Dao (Tao). The Dao is the sacred and ultimate concern of Daoists.

 

This is a continuation of the discussion from here…. http://thedaobums.com/topic/21345-chuang-tzu-chapter-4-section-b/page-5

 

And here... http://thedaobums.co...ching/?p=252652

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No.  Un-nameable, but not sacred,

unless you think of everything as sacred.

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No.  Un-nameable, but not sacred,

unless you think of everything as sacred.

 

From my observation the dominant attitude of contemporary society is that nothing is sacred. And that’s probably a valid reaction to the hollow forms, and claims of ownership, of the sacred by mainstream religious traditions. In my case, as someone brought up outside of any religious tradition, notions of sacredness or otherwise were not part of my worldview. It’s only been later in life that I’ve felt the need to reach out for this previously lacking dimension.

 

For me descriptions of the Dao as ‘unnameable’ or ‘ineffable’ only touch my intellect, whereas sacredness engages my whole being,  my emotions; my heart-mind.  A sense for sacredness is something that needs to be cultivated. It’s an individual and intensely personal experience, and not something that can be held or grasped.  

Edited by Darkstar
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The question of the topic is a personal one; it’s not meant to be about the unnameable Dao itself. It could better be expressed as “ Is the Dao sacred for me?”  My immediate answer is “no, it’s neither sacred or not sacred for me”.  However, I question the validity of my answer. Hence the topic question stems more from my general interest in the role of sacredness in Daoist cultivation.

 

Sacredness is fundamental to all religious traditions;  it’s obviously deemed as universally important. Kompathy states “The Dao is the sacred and ultimate concern of Daoists.” He is referring here to mainland Chinese practitioners.  So why is it not a concern for most of us Western practitioners?  Is this a baby we’ve thrown out in discarding the bathwater of redundant religious forms? 

Edited by Darkstar
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Look into your experience rather than beliefs.

 

My experience grows from whatever I cultivate. If I choose to cultivate sacredness I will experience it. If I deny it, I will not experience it. Speaking for myself, cultivating a sense of the sacred leads to an enhanced experience of life.

Edited by Darkstar
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I cannot deal with the word "sacred" when speaking of an attribute of Tao because of the many religious connotations of the word "sacred".

 

And to even talk about attributes of Tao is being rather bold, I think.

 

"The Dao is the sacred and ultimate concern of Daoists."

 

That is such a scarey statement, IMO.  Sounds like there is a religious war about to begin.

 

So no, the Tao, to me is not sacred.  (Although some of the processes get pretty close to being such.)

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I cannot deal with the word "sacred" when speaking of an attribute of Tao because of the many religious connotations of the word "sacred".

 

Dustybeijing made this point too and I fully accept it. However, never personally had other people's notions of 'sacred' thrust upon me, I don't have these negative connotations. In fact, I rather like the word for its emotive power in a constructive and positive sense.

 

 

And to even talk about attributes of Tao is being rather bold, I think.

 

Yes, the topic question is poorly phrased. Hopefully I've redressed it somewhat in a previous post by restating it as “ Is the Dao sacred for me?” 

 

 

I"The Dao is the sacred and ultimate concern of Daoists."

 

That is such a scarey statement, IMO.  Sounds like there is a religious war about to begin.

 

I thought you'd know that Komjathy has declared a 'jihad' against all people who use the term Daoist outside of teachings affiliated with traditional mainland Chinese lineages. But really, I don't want to go there. Aside from this passion, he is an excellent researcher and communicator of the Daoist tradition. (Edit: ‘jihad’, of course, is just an exaggerated, melodramatic expression. ‘Strongly opposed’ would be more accurate.)

 

 

So no, the Tao, to me is not sacred.  (Although some of the processes get pretty close to being such.)

 

:) Well expressed.

Edited by Darkstar

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I thought you'd know that Komjathy has declared a 'jihad' against all people who use the term Daoist outside of teachings affiliated with traditional mainland Chinese lineages. But really, I don't want to go there. Aside from this passion, he is an excellent researcher and communicator of the Daoist tradition.

I don't get involved in other people's wars (normally).

 

I do feel a little uncomfortable speaking about Komjathy and even Mueller as I have never read either.  But I will and do speak to the quotes presented when I can.

 

And yes, you have clarified the concept you wish to speak to in this thread.

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Because the Dao is sacred, everything is sacred, basically: Every being, every object, every experience. But in practical terms, there are sometimes good reasons to avoid or dispose of certain things.

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Because the Dao is sacred, everything is sacred, basically: Every being, every object, every experience. 

 

What you say is supported by chapter 29 of the Daodejing....

 

The world is a sacred vessel; 

It is not something that can be acted upon. 
Those who act on it destroy it; 
 
But for me this remains a concept unless I actively cultivate a sense of the sacred. And even so it's too big. My experience is fleeting; easily lost in practical living. Perhaps that's partly what you meant by "But in practical terms, there are sometimes good reasons to avoid or dispose of certain things."
Edited by Darkstar

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Sacredness is good. Some have a good sense for it, and some don't. That's life... it all depends on the individual, what they deem as worthy. Some deem everything worthy, as blessings, as life's natural unfoldings, while others expand effort to make choices that shift anyway thru time. 

 

The cause of sacredness is the merit you accumulate, and the effect is also sacredness itself. Likewise, the cause of mediocrity is also a result of what one accumulates, which in turn seed further causes of the same, so it is clear that cause and effect arise in tandem and cannot be clearly separated as two distinct occurrences or actions of body, speech and mind. 

 

Those who have a good sense of the sacred naturally have a positive and authentic presence about them. This authentic presence, in Tibetan called wangthang, literally means field of power, which in turn is directly tuned to the cultivation of virtue. Therefore, the more merit one accumulates, the more authentically present one is; the more authentic one's presence, the more one perfumes the environment with symmetry and order, which is analogous for sacredness, and this in turn gives rise to further virtue. In time, it forms a harmonious loop of great tenacity and beauty. 

 

Sacredness can stand on its own merit without having an opposite, but the mind sometimes demands comparisons. Two persons unknown to you serves tea, but each cup may taste different. This difference can be a cause for celebration; it can be unnoticed, or it can be an opportunity to practice discriminating the servers, the tea pots, the teas, the cups, the atmosphere,etc., at which point, without having to do anything in particular, the energy of sacredness simply gets drained of potential and fails to manifest when it could easily have done so had one simply rest in that presence, without discrimination, in full participation of the moment as it is. 

 

So, if one is able to tune into the subtleties of things unfolding in a mindful way, to really see the beauty in simplicity where others miss, to be one with the beauty of a flower that blooms as nature dictates in her patterns and cycles where others habitually see just another flower, this is virtue, the seed of sacred progression united in both the person and his or her surrounds. 

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My experience grows from whatever I cultivate. If I choose to cultivate sacredness I will experience it. If I deny it, I will not experience it. Speaking for myself, cultivating a sense of the sacred leads to an enhanced experience of life.

Well then sacredness is good.

 

I guess it takes you out of the mind space.

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I see the Dao as sacred. It is the ultimate, the source, all light, all dark... Of course it is sacred :)

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I think also it is just natural, but what is natural has sacredness because it is not cared for our acknowledged in the regular world at this juncture. Perhaps one day this will not be so.

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As Michael says; if 'the Dao' is sacred, isn't everything sacred?

 

And if everything is sacred, sanctity (whatever it meant before) ceases to have meaning.

 

 

And again, sanctity is of something set apart -- something forbidden. Something we perhaps don't feel we deserve.

 

The Dao is not forbidden, just elusive. It is not something to be 'deserved', it simply is.

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You see, Dusty, that's exactly the question: Can all things be sacred without there being things not sacred? For that matter, can there be love without hate?

I would say, yes, there can be. Because in this case we (conceptually) transcend the realm of duality.

Edited by Michael Sternbach
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Thank you CT, I like that!

 

I 'm not much of a daoist,

more of a traveller, that found a nice forum.

 

But I once envisioned world, the tenthousand things as..eh..an enormous swirling field of energy, around the globe, everywhere. Every living being  is a small or bigger 'clump/node of energy in that field

 

Big trees are very big nodes of energy in that field, the small grasses make a layer on the ground. Some people have more energy around them then others. I feel a large field of energy wherein the body of my teacher is. He has, i feel it like that, transformed the energy of the field to something that is...like higher/more virtuous...hard to find words. but definitely transformed. like to the way a big tree transforms it.

 

to me, a big tree is sacred, the small grasses too, and the small curling waves on the beach, and the roaring surf...but it's all part of that big field of energy. The only things that are not sacred, are manmade...anger, and jealousy, hard feelings etc....

 

the piece i made blue seems to say the same thing

 

So, after reading this thread it seems to me, task of men ( and women ;) ) is to take care of the world and our lives so that we can rightfully say that Dao is sacred.

But even now, i would say yes to this question

 

 

Sacredness is good. Some have a good sense for it, and some don't. That's life... it all depends on the individual, what they deem as worthy. Some deem everything worthy, as blessings, as life's natural unfoldings, while others expand effort to make choices that shift anyway thru time. 

 

The cause of sacredness is the merit you accumulate, and the effect is also sacredness itself. Likewise, the cause of mediocrity is also a result of what one accumulates, which in turn seed further causes of the same, so it is clear that cause and effect arise in tandem and cannot be clearly separated as two distinct occurrences or actions of body, speech and mind. 

 

Those who have a good sense of the sacred naturally have a positive and authentic presence about them. This authentic presence, in Tibetan called wangthang, literally means field of power, which in turn is directly tuned to the cultivation of virtue. Therefore, the more merit one accumulates, the more authentically present one is; the more authentic one's presence, the more one perfumes the environment with symmetry and order, which is analogous for sacredness, and this in turn gives rise to further virtue. In time, it forms a harmonious loop of great tenacity and beauty. 

 

Sacredness can stand on its own merit without having an opposite, but the mind sometimes demands comparisons. Two persons unknown to you serves tea, but each cup may taste different. This difference can be a cause for celebration; it can be unnoticed, or it can be an opportunity to practice discriminating the servers, the tea pots, the teas, the cups, the atmosphere,etc., at which point, without having to do anything in particular, the energy of sacredness simply gets drained of potential and fails to manifest when it could easily have done so had one simply rest in that presence, without discrimination, in full participation of the moment as it is. 

 

So, if one is able to tune into the subtleties of things unfolding in a mindful way, to really see the beauty in simplicity where others miss, to be one with the beauty of a flower that blooms as nature dictates in her patterns and cycles where others habitually see just another flower, this is virtue, the seed of sacred progression united in both the person and his or her surrounds. 

 

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I guess you could say

He who lives with the most sacred- wins. 

 

I'd add

In modern the Judaism the goal (imo) is turning the everyday into the sacred, thus a prayer before any act from eating to using the wash room acknowledge God and his hidden aspect and essence within.

Edited by thelerner
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Of course it is. The Dao is the Divine, the Absolute, the transcendent source of all reality which simultaneously interpenetrates all of reality. Everything or the cosmos, which is "all things", doesn't exhaust the Dao therefore since it also transcends and is the fount of all things, i.e. the Dao is no-thingness as well as all things.

 

One could therefore say everything is sacred, but the quality of everything or the Dao being sacred isn't just an intellectual attribution we give to it, nor is it an emotional quality. Rather, those with direct knowledge or experience of the Divine, which in the case of Daoism would be the "zhenren" or "true/perfect/realized man", the sage, the immortal, understand at an intuitive and primordial level this quality of sacredness. In other words, unless one obtains an experience, knowledge, or union with the Dao, calling it sacred will be just a name (even if it is true), whereas direct knowledge or experience of the Divine is what lends true meaning to words like "sacred" or "holy" or "numinous" and is the origin of those words in the first place.

 

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sacred...    deserving veneration

 

Food deserves veneration.... or better the actual animal or plant... or better biology deserves veneration... or better evolution deserves veneration... or better the celestial galaxies deserve veneration... or better cosmogony deserves veneration... or better the original immaterial spirits deserve veneration... or better [the unfolding engine of] Dao deserves veneration.... or better The collective ONE deserves veneration... 

 

As long as there is veneration, there is separation.   JMO :)

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It's not a bad introduction to someone new to the philosophy... but for someone who already follows the teachings, who cares?

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Be empty, that is all. The perfect man uses his mind like a mirror - going after nothing, welcoming nothing, responding but not storing.

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