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Yueya

Mair 2:7

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The knowledge of the ancients attained the ultimate. What was the ultimacy that it attained? They realized that there was a stage before there were things. This is the ultimacy they had attained, the utmost to which nothing can be added. Next, there were those who recognized that there were things, but that there was a stage before which things were distinguished. Next, there were those who recognized that there were distinctions among things, but that there was a stage before there was right and wrong. Now, the manifestation of right and wrong is what diminishes the Way. What causes the diminution is what leads to the creation of preferences. But, after all, are there really diminution and creation? Or are there, after all, really no diminution and creation? That there are diminution and creation may be seen from clansman Chao's playing the lute. That there are no diminution and creation may be seen from clansman Chao's not playing the lute. Chao Wen played the lute, Maestro K'uang beat the rhythm with a stick, and Master Hui commented philosophically beneath a parasol tree. The knowledge of these three masters was virtually complete, so they practiced it till the end of their lives. However, they believed that they were different from others in what they were fond of and wished to enlighten others about their fondness. Yet, try as they may to enlighten them, others were not to be enlightened. Thus one of them ended his life in muddleheaded discussions of "hard" and "white." And Chao Wen's son carried on his father's career his whole life without any accomplishment. If this can be called accomplishment even I, who am without accomplishment, can be called accomplished. But if this cannot be called accomplishment, neither I nor anything else is accomplished. Therefore, the sage endeavors to get rid of bewildering flamboyance. For this reason, he does not use things himself, but lodges in commonality. This is called "using lucidity."

 

Notes:

clansman Chao: Chao Wen, the most famous lutanist of antiquity.

 

Maestro K'uang: A famous music teacher of old.

 

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Basically this speaks to the evolution of the thoughts of man.  It is a given that our thoughts have evolved and have become more complicated.  I suppose this is natural because we are always asking how and why.

 

And I would question if the last two sentences were added later.  They seem to be out of place.

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Basically this speaks to the evolution of the thoughts of man.  It is a given that our thoughts have evolved and have become more complicated.  I suppose this is natural because we are always asking how and why.

 

Yes, but the way of Dao is reversal; we go back to the root from which all things arise.

 

A C Graham comments on this section……

 

“Systems of knowledge are partial and temporary, like styles on the zither [lute], which in forming sacrifice some of the potentialities of music, and by way of their very excellence make schools fossilise in decline. Take as a model Chao Wen not playing the zither, not yet committed, with all potentialities intact.”

 

It’s easy to see how Zen teachings derive from such anecdotes of Zhuangzi's. For instance, Shunryu Suzuki’s book title, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.”…..“In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few.” (And it’s also easy to see how once such sayings become established wisdom, they fossilise and decline in worth.)

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True that.  Both Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu spoke to that repeatedly. 

 

In this section Chuang Tzu only hinted at it with this sentence:

 

Therefore, the sage endeavors to get rid of bewildering flamboyance.

 

This hints at what is to come, the speaking of reversal and returning to the root of Dao.

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Basically this speaks to the evolution of the thoughts of man.  It is a given that our thoughts have evolved and have become more complicated.  I suppose this is natural because we are always asking how and why.

I agree, this is an invective against the analytical mind which creates paradoxes such as 

 

When a white horse is not a horse - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

When A White Horse Is Not A Horse also known as the White Horse Dialogue (Chinese: 白馬論; pinyin: Báimǎ Lùn; Wade–Giles: Pai-ma Lun; literally: "white horse discourse"), is a famous paradox in Chinesephilosophy. ... chapters discuss Baima-related concepts of jian 堅 "hard; hardness" and bai 白 "white; whiteness", ..

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One question I have reading this text is: what does it mean exactly and in a practical sense to realize that there is a stage before things exist?

We can't do without the analytical mind: the ancients would certainly find a difference between a horse and a dog when it comes to give them food. So their knowledge certainly didn't mean that they simply destroyed their analytical mind.

 

edit: can->can't (line 3)

Edited by smallsteps

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One question I have reading this text is: what does it mean exactly and in a practical sense to realize that there is a stage before things exist?

We can't do without the analytical mind: the ancients would certainly find a difference between a horse and a dog when it comes to give them food.  

A predator can tell a difference between an edible and an inedible animal. It does not mean he has any mind.

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One question I have reading this text is: what does it mean exactly and in a practical sense to realize that there is a stage before things exist?

 

Two different ways of looking at this.

 

First, as pertains to this universe, "Three gave birth to the Ten Thousand Things."  Prior to Three giving birth there were no things.

 

However, more directly to the paragraph, it is a progression in complexity.  "Before things existed ..." we could say that is was primal "useful/not useful".  Then man started naming things, defining things, analyzing things, disassembling things, etc, to gain a better understanding of the things.

 

This process has led away from the concept of "Oneness".  It has also made life more confusing and more difficult to understand.  We have moved from the simple to the complex and Taoism teaches us to return to the simple.

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Two different ways of looking at this.

 

First, as pertains to this universe, "Three gave birth to the Ten Thousand Things."  Prior to Three giving birth there were no things.

 

However, more directly to the paragraph, it is a progression in complexity.  "Before things existed ..." we could say that is was primal "useful/not useful".  Then man started naming things, defining things, analyzing things, disassembling things, etc, to gain a better understanding of the things.

 

This process has led away from the concept of "Oneness".  It has also made life more confusing and more difficult to understand.  We have moved from the simple to the complex and Taoism teaches us to return to the simple.

 

Thank you for your detailed explanation :)

 

What bothers me is that the concept of oneness is still a concept, and a concept can only be defined within a system of concepts, it draws upon the discriminative mind. The knowledge the ancients had seems to be an intuitive knowledge ('they realized there was a stage before there were things'). On the other hand, knowing by intuition doesn't necessarily mean that they had no mind anymore unless returning to the Dao means becoming simple animals. No?

I am just asking questions loudly, it helps me chewing the text..Thanks

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A predator can tell a difference between an edible and an inedible animal. It does not mean he has any mind.

 

Actually a predator cannot 'tell' the difference, because telling is an act of language which is human. Only the actions of the predator manifests that there is a difference for him.

 

But more than that, I am not sure that we should surely say that animals have no mind at all. There are a lot of different species with different capacities. Scientists regularly discover some powers in animals we first thought to be for human beings only- in terms of memory, discriminative powers etc.

 

Also, spending time with animals has convinced me that they surely have a sort of mind. I have no proof, of course.

 

Saying that animals has no mind would require a quite restrictive definition of it- perhaps too restrictive.

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@ Smallsteps...

 

I like the direction your thoughts are taking you! 

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Thank you for your detailed explanation :)

 

You're welcome.

 

What bothers me is that the concept of oneness is still a concept, and a concept can only be defined within a system of concepts, it draws upon the discriminative mind.

 

Yes.  The concept of "Oneness" is a mental game only.  To say "We are all One" is in conflict with science/nature as well as Taoist Philosophy.  To say "We all are star stuff" is closer to the truth but it's still not the truth.  I can't define "I am".  I can say though that I am, at any given point in time, the result of the processes of the universe (nature).

 

The knowledge the ancients had seems to be an intuitive knowledge ('they realized there was a stage before there were things').

 

Yes.  And I would say that early man functioned mostly on intuition.  There was little complex thinking with early man.  Their instincts played a much more important role than ours does now.

 

On the other hand, knowing by intuition doesn't necessarily mean that they had no mind anymore unless returning to the Dao means becoming simple animals. No?

 

Good point.  The mind of man evolved over time allowing man to use mental concepts in dealing with life.  For me, returning to the Dao suggests that we should live more intuitively and spontaneously.  Basically, stay out of trouble and enjoy life.  I have found that in my life I have more inner peace when I am able to live intuitively and spontaneously.  I used to live a very structured life but that's not nearly as much fun as living spontaneously.

 

I am just asking questions loudly, it helps me chewing the text..Thanks

 

Yes.  Question everything.  But it is better if we have at least one other person to bounce our questions off of.  So here we are.

 

Edited by Marblehead
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For those still interested in this study, it is my intention to not let this die. 

 

Right now I am manually converting the PDF file into an MSWord file so that I can better work with the entire document.  I still need a couple more days to get it into a functional format.  When that is done I will continue from where we are now.

 

And, of course, anyone else interested in posting a next chapter section is more than welcome to do so.

 

I also think we could include comments of Chaung Tzu's writing style and his word usage.  After all, that is what got this series started in the first place.

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Thats right no retreat no surrender.

 

But why manually? there are plenty free online services 

 

http://www.pdfonline.com/pdf-to-word-converter/

Yep.  No surrender.  But we might need make a tactical repositioning.

 

Why manually?  Just the way I am.  I'm a manual kind of person.  And this one is actually rather difficult as I can do only one page at a time and sometimes the pages don't even copy correctly.

 

But the hardest part is finished now so the end is near.

 

And besides, I've got the rest of my life to get it done.

 

(And BTW, Monday I went to the biggest used book store in town and bought a copy of it as well as English/Feng's "Inner Chapters" publication and a copy of "365 Tao".  "365 Tao" is another one that has been started a couple times but was dropped after a couple weeks.  I might keep that on the back burner for some time in the future.)

 

Okay.  Back to work.

Edited by Marblehead
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Thanks Marblehead. Are you including Mair's notes to his translation as well? 

 

I too would like to see this discussion continue but I'm OK with a slow pace.  To my mind the Zhuangzi is not to be rushed - a week or so between sections is fine by me.  

 

A comment of section 2:7........

 

Fold words into cranes. Knit sound into sequence

and hold its shadow up against tomorrow’s blank slate sky.

 

Watch how the dark flutter of notes makes meaning

seem bigger than it really is. Watch how night washes time clean.

 

Follow the words to their source

and emerge into a clearing of complete emptiness.

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Thanks Marblehead. Are you including Mair's notes to his translation as well? 

 

I intend on doing that.  I must be careful as that stuff is copy protected and I don't want to get the forum in trouble.  I have already had thoughts on how I will do that and I think it will work out well.  (Even though it will be more work for me.)

 

I too would like to see this discussion continue but I'm OK with a slow pace.  To my mind the Zhuangzi is not to be rushed - a week or so between sections is fine by me.  

 

Yeah, those who stay with me here can give me guidance if I am moving too fast or too slow.  I really want others to benefit from what I will be doing.

 

I ordered a book that should arrive in about a week that might be of great help with this study.  The book is: 

 

Aimless Wanderings:  Chuang Tzu's Chaos Linguistics  by Hakim Bey

 

A comment of section 2:7........

 

Fold words into cranes. Knit sound into sequence

and hold its shadow up against tomorrow’s blank slate sky.

 

Watch how the dark flutter of notes makes meaning

seem bigger than it really is. Watch how night washes time clean.

 

Follow the words to their source

and emerge into a clearing of complete emptiness.

 

Where did this come from?  I won't be adding anything to Mair's translation but additions from other will be greatly appreciated.  But I might add comments from Hakim Bey if appropriate.

 

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That all sounds good Marblehead. As to the pace, I'd say just add another section whenever you feel like it. Hopefully other people - perhaps some of those who originally said they wanted this section by section discussion - will help you out by adding sections of Mair's translation as well.

 

Even if there is little or no discussion on some sections it doesn't mean people aren't reading and gaining from it. I find it a difficult text to discuss because it's so multi-layered and thereby open to many interpretations. There is much hidden meaning. Hence for anything but superficial discussion a person needs to read at least some of the vast body of commentary that's been written on this foundational text of classical Daoism over the past two millennia. 

 

(I adapted those lines from the poem Coyotes by Lori Lamothe.) 

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To me, he misses the point completely but hey...

 

http://www.strange-loops.com/philhakimchaoslinguistics.html

Yeah, we'll see how that goes when I get the book.

 

We all know that I have my fixed understandings and opinions about The Chuang Tzu.  More than anything else I want to be inspired to look at it from different perspectives. 

 

As I do with various discussions, I will sometimes present a perspective that I personally don't hold.  This is a way for me to remain a little flexible with accepting others' understandings and opinions.

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I'm making great progress.  I should be able to post the next section of Chapter 2 sometime today.

 

I still have more work to do on the conversion to MSWord but I am willing to share it with anyone interested when I get it complete so that others will have the opportunity to do the next Chapter/Section posting so that I'm not the only one doing it.

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Okay Folks, Chap 2, Sect 8 has been posted.  I shouldn't be the first one responding to the new post.  I'm gonna' need some help. 

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