dawei

[DDJ Meaning] Chapter 5

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Before language, before speech there was Dao and that's why Lao Tzu says to teach Dao with no words is best. The ancient masters said little but sung the songs in keeping with the Dao. If you don't live it, breathe it and realize it how can one know Dao? Is it not just empty words and misguided language to mislead one away from Dao. Dao is in the heart, it can be found by self cultivation and only that.

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[..] Knowing this is the wisdom of what Lao Tzu is talking about and how a wise person can see this and use this as a means of being wise in all of their actions.

FWIW,  the governing of actions is not the Tao.  Within a social context one can see the "Tao" governing all actions.

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Let me add a Materialist example of how modern Taoist and the ancients have totally different world views.

 

When Lao Tzu, or any of the Zen master or any of “the Buddhas” expressed the concepts of the void or the No-thing that is neither nothing nor emptiness they had a basis for that. They understood that in the context of the world, the times, in which they lived. Some would say they were exploring the “knower and the known” within the idiosyncratic understandings of their day.

 

Today I start with a vastly different understanding of what a nothing can be, or better what it is not. For some time, at least 80 years, we have understood what an atom is. I will stay out of the weeds of the quantum world. An atom has a nucleus of protons and neutrons. About this nucleus there are electrons which for much of my life I thought of as orbiting little planets. The larger the nucleolus, the more the planets. As “size” increase you get more orbits which can hold more planets than the inner orbit(s).

 

Now we understand the notion of orbit to be a misunderstanding and these “orbits” are more like spheres, shells, and the electrons for a particular shell are somewhere “on” that shell. The term “electron cloud” comes into play and then we get to the planets also being waves, but now I have wandered in the quantum weeds. So let me step back.

 

So if we have a hydrogen atom, the first and simplest, It has a single electron. One center. One orbit. Think of a football field. Place a marble on the 50 yard line half way between the side lines. If the marble is the atom's nuclei, that electron's orbit is a sphere whose diameter is the length of the field.

 

Interesting, no? Matter is the protons, the neutrons, and the electrons. So explain to me what “occupies” the inside of the orbital sphere other than the nuclei, the marble?

 

How can I not have a different relationship to “nothingness” than did Lao Tzu? More to the point this understanding does not differentiate an ancients apprehension of the Tao from anyone's in modern times.

 

“Dao is in the heart, it can be found by self cultivation and only that.”

 

The Tao that is in the heart or the mind is not the Tao. IMNHO.

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No you are looking at Dao from a point of view of the known science of today from the minds exploration. The energy that has created all things is still the same as when the first energy was released. Today science divides things up and tries to intellectualise and discover the microscopic anatomy of things. But the Dao is inside us, for we are born of the universe and we return to it. To realise ourselves we must look within and then out. By pure and authentic teachings we can look and feel and realise the Dao within us and then see it outside us. Looking at atoms will not allow us to do this. In the vast majority of spiritual paths, there is great talk of the heart; the heart sutra in Buddhism etc. So to realise the Dao we must go through all sorts of life challenges and all sorts of self cultivation techniques. Then one day we can realise Dao. Sounds simple, but it certainly isn't! 

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No you are looking at Dao from a point of view of the known science of today from the minds exploration. The energy that has created all things is still the same as when the first energy was released. Today science divides things up and tries to intellectualise and discover the microscopic anatomy of things. But the Dao is inside us, for we are born of the universe and we return to it. To realise ourselves we must look within and then out. By pure and authentic teachings we can look and feel and realise the Dao within us and then see it outside us. Looking at atoms will not allow us to do this. In the vast majority of spiritual paths, there is great talk of the heart; the heart sutra in Buddhism etc. So to realise the Dao we must go through all sorts of life challenges and all sorts of self cultivation techniques. Then one day we can realise Dao. Sounds simple, but it certainly isn't! 

But that is not what I am doing.  As I said, "More to the point this understanding does not differentiate an ancients apprehension of the Tao from anyone's in modern times." 

 

FLowing hands: "The energy that has created all things is still the same as when the first energy was released." 

 

Exactly, but the language, the idiomatic relationship to it is differentiated.  What you and I see withing the universe of being, "the ten thousand things"  may be the same, but our relationship to grasping it is affected by our time. 

 

 

5 [Derek Lin, 1994 ]

 

Heaven and Earth are without bias

And regard myriad things as straw dogs

The sage is without bias

And regards people as straw dogs

The space between Heaven and Earth

Is it not like a bellows?

Empty, and yet never exhausted

It moves, and produces more

Too many words hasten failure

Cannot compare to keeping quiet

 

Lin points out "Straw dogs are literally small dog figurines made from straws. They were used in ancient times for rituals."  In common parlance you might get  “I’m just putting this out there as a straw dog.’"  Another is "A straw man is a common form of  argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while refuting an argument that was not advanced by that opponent. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be "attacking a straw man".

 

I suspect the ancient that wrote that may have a different sense of it.  In this verse what is meant as "straw dogs" can be problematic because of our  lack of understanding of the cultural understandings of the author.  Should those lines be read as "Heaven and earth are without bias  /  they are indifferent to myriad of  all things  /  The Sage without bias  /  is indifferent to the ways of man "  ?

 

The language we use today is not reflective of the idiosyncratic expressions of the ancients.  Non the less, our linguistic expressions of the Tao reflect a different and fuller knowledge of our universe.  This is neither better nor worse in coming to our understanding of Tao.

 

FLowing hands: "But the Dao is inside us, for we are born of the universe and we return to it. To realize ourselves we must look within and then out."

 

For the most part, but it is no more inside us that it is not inside us.  BTW, your analysis of science is flawed.  We are not born of the universe, we are ever in the universe.  Your awareness of the universe as consciousness, is merely an organizational happenstance of the universe. This is what it is.

 

FLowing hands: "But the Dao is inside us, for we are born of the universe and we return to it. To realise ourselves we must look within and then out."

 

Realize ourselves?  We are ever within and without of Tao even without our seeing that.  It is still as it is.

 

If all you got from my atom story was I look into atoms to find the Tao,  I am sorry.  :(   It was a way to say what ancients understood by "empty", "the void", "nothingness"  and what that can mean for us are quite distinct.  Regardless as I said " More to the point this understanding does not differentiate an ancients apprehension of the Tao from anyone's in modern times."  

 

Inside atom is No-Thing.  As this is true of all material objects this means that 0.00000138% of all that you see, touch, and feel is No-thing.  Yet it is within and without Tao.  This is a modernist understanding of the "ten thousand things" as the ancient might say.  Does knowledge of this affect the Tao, or ones apprehension of the Tao.  Of course not.  But it might make it harder to read an ancient's text and filter it against the idiomatic constraints of today.

 

I guess in short I'm saying I never, well sometimes, understand every thing those ol' guys said.  I need to work this out on my own terms.

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Let me add a Materialist example of how modern Taoist and the ancients have totally different world views.

 

When Lao Tzu, or any of the Zen master or any of “the Buddhas” expressed the concepts of the void or the No-thing that is neither nothing nor emptiness they had a basis for that. They understood that in the context of the world, the times, in which they lived. Some would say they were exploring the “knower and the known” within the idiosyncratic understandings of their day.

 

Today I start with a vastly different understanding of what a nothing can be, or better what it is not. For some time, at least 80 years, we have understood what an atom is. I will stay out of the weeds of the quantum world. An atom has a nucleus of protons and neutrons. About this nucleus there are electrons which for much of my life I thought of as orbiting little planets. The larger the nucleolus, the more the planets. As “size” increase you get more orbits which can hold more planets than the inner orbit(s).

 

Now we understand the notion of orbit to be a misunderstanding and these “orbits” are more like spheres, shells, and the electrons for a particular shell are somewhere “on” that shell. The term “electron cloud” comes into play and then we get to the planets also being waves, but now I have wandered in the quantum weeds. So let me step back.

 

So if we have a hydrogen atom, the first and simplest, It has a single electron. One center. One orbit. Think of a football field. Place a marble on the 50 yard line half way between the side lines. If the marble is the atom's nuclei, that electron's orbit is a sphere whose diameter is the length of the field.

 

Interesting, no? Matter is the protons, the neutrons, and the electrons. So explain to me what “occupies” the inside of the orbital sphere other than the nuclei, the marble?

 

How can I not have a different relationship to “nothingness” than did Lao Tzu? More to the point this understanding does not differentiate an ancients apprehension of the Tao from anyone's in modern times.

 

“Dao is in the heart, it can be found by self cultivation and only that.”

 

The Tao that is in the heart or the mind is not the Tao. IMNHO.

I'll keep this simple.

 

What is an electron?

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I'll keep this simple.

 

What is an electron?

That ! Depends on the meaning of what 'is' is. :)

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That ! Depends on the meaning of what 'is' is. :)

Extra-credit question: what is Newton's third law of motion?

 

:D

 

 

EDIT: Stupid smartphone...

Edited by Brian
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Extra-credit question: what is Newton's third law of motion?

 

 

He who is traveling in a certain direction will continue traveling in that direction, at the same speed, unless he is affected by some outside force like a shove, a trip, or a punch.

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I'll keep this simple.

 

What is an electron?

Bottom line, it does not matter.  The point was that what we call the "ten thousand things" is actually 99.99999% void.  It has nothing in that space.  99.99999% is no thing even when we put our coffee cup on the table.  It is "all" void.

 

Now some of us, not all of us know that.  The ancients did not have a clue about this.  So how we speak about the void and how they spoke about the void involves elements we do not understand.  Language, knowledge, changes how we understand and see the world.  Thus when we read any version of the Tao Te Ching we have to use more than the verbiage to grasp it.

 

How one apprehends the Tao is not tied to what we know or what we do not know.  Personally I am deeply involved with cosmology, and the emergence of consciousness. [Two distinct topics] These are of interest to me.  They inform me of this universe.  They are different cognitive approaches to "The world" than those of the ancients.   So should one believe that this will lead to different apprehensions of the Tao?  My answer is no, but my relationship to the idioms in 2500 year old expalnations, language, of the Tao Te Ching gets fogged at times.

 

Please tell me your question should be followed by a grin. :o

Edited by Gerry
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I'll keep this simple.

 

What is an electron?

Tao's rorschach. (-:

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I had this on a test once long ago. But I think I remember it well. Back when I first moved to Florida, I found I liked fishing, and, needing some peaceful space to do that, I went to the seashore. There arent any bass there, but Id heard of a creature called pompano, which I liked the name of, and set about getting one of those.

I fished many long eventless sunny days, sweating in the hundred percent humidity.. but never caught one of those pompano. I began to believe the evidence of my own experience., that there was in fact no such thing , it was just a mythical creature like a unicorn., after all, its only reasonable to come to that conclusion, right?

But anyway some time later , when I had long given up on ever seeing one of these things, my rod bent over like I had hooked onto a motorcycle, and after a tremendous struggle , I finally landed a smooth oval monster of a fish. It gleamed white sparkling in the sun. With innocent doe -like eyes and graceful scimitar fins. I had no ice, luckily, for if I had, I certainly would have dropped it in a cooler for dinner, but not having any ,I set it free.

And I realized then ,that a thing is defined by its definition , but thats not really what it is. :)

Edited by Stosh
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No what one experiences Dao today or in any other time will be the same as it was at the very beginning. Living Dao is the experience, philosophical Dao is just in books and eluded to and misguided by language.

 

But there are some who live their philosophy.

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Extra-credit question: what is Newton's third law of motion?

 

:D

 

 

EDIT: Stupid smartphone...

 

Don't stand in front of an eighteen wheeler travelling at a rapid speed.

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That ! Depends on the meaning of what 'is' is. :)

Actually is this world of the subatomic, that is a fair point. :P

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Bottom line, it does not matter. The point was that what we call the "ten thousand things" is actually 99.99999% void. It has nothing in that space. 99.99999% is no thing even when we put our coffee cup on the table. It is "all" void.

 

Now some of us, not all of us know that. The ancients did not have a clue about this. So how we speak about the void and how they spoke about the void involves elements we do not understand. Language, knowledge, changes how we understand and see the world. Thus when we read any version of the Tao Te Ching we have to use more than the verbiage to grasp it.

 

How one apprehends the Tao is not tied to what we know or what we do not know. Personally I am deeply involved with cosmology, and the emergence of consciousness. [Two distinct topics] These are of interest to me. They inform me of this universe. They are different cognitive approaches to "The world" than those of the ancients. So should one believe that this will lead to different apprehensions of the Tao? My answer is no, but my relationship to the idioms in 2500 year old expalnations, language, of the Tao Te Ching gets fogged at times.

 

Please tell me your question should be followed by a grin. :o

This question should be:

Do you understand why I asked that question?

 

<grin>

 

 

;)

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Don't stand in front of an eighteen wheeler travelling at a rapid speed.

E=1/2mv2 & P=mv but close!

 

 

You may remember we tried this one once before...

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I had this on a test once long ago. But I think I remember it well. Back when I first moved to Florida, I found I liked fishing, and, needing some peaceful space to do that, I went to the seashore. There arent any bass there, but Id heard of a creature called pompano, which I liked the name of, and set about getting one of those.

I fished many long eventless sunny days, sweating in the hundred percent humidity.. but never caught one of those pompano. I began to believe the evidence of my own experience., that there was in fact no such thing , it was just a mythical creature like a unicorn., after all, its only reasonable to come to that conclusion, right?

But anyway some time later , when I had long given up on ever seeing one of these things, my rod bent over like I had hooked onto a motorcycle, and after a tremendous struggle , I finally landed a smooth oval monster of a fish. It gleamed white sparkling in the sun. With innocent doe -like eyes and graceful scimitar fins. I had no ice, luckily, for if I had, I certainly would have dropped it in a cooler for dinner, but not having any ,I set it free.

And I realized then ,that a thing is defined by its definition , but thats not really what it is. :)

A struggle, eh?
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He who is traveling in a certain direction will continue traveling in that direction, at the same speed, unless he is affected by some outside force like a shove, a trip, or a punch.

First law but nicely stated!
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E=1/2mv2 & P=mv but close!

 

 

You may remember we tried this one once before...

 

Yes, I remember.  Didn't work then, likely won't work this time either.

 

Does "P" stand for peeing in your pants just prior to being run over by the eighteen wheeler?

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Hey!, I just figured it out.

 

Where:

 

P = peeing in pants

m = moving

v = vehicle

 

Therefore:

 

Peeing in pants while standing in front of a moving vehicle.

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As one of the "bouncers" at this esteemed watering hole, I would hate to see a long derail develop here.  I suspect that Brian found Gerry's talk of the "quantum weeds" dismissive and indicative that Gerry  knew not of what he was speaking, and is trying to tell him to put up or shut up.  Hmmm . . ., might I ask you gentleman to take your disagreement outside, before it seriously interrupts the flow of discourse on Laozi's Chapter Five, a long time favorite of mine by the way, perhaps by starting another thread on the topic of entangled quantum weeds and how they trip up materialist presuppositions that go back to the Seventeenth Century revival of Epicureanism?

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As one of the "bouncers" at this esteemed watering hole, I would hate to see a long derail develop here. I suspect that Brian found Gerry's talk of the "quantum weeds" dismissive and indicative that Gerry knew not of what he was speaking, and is trying to tell him to put up or shut up. Hmmm . . ., might I ask you gentleman to take your disagreement outside, before it seriously interrupts the flow of discourse on Laozi's Chapter Five, a long time favorite of mine by the way, perhaps by starting another thread on the topic of entangled quantum weeds and how they trip up materialist presuppositions that go back to the Seventeenth Century revival of Epicureanism?

I agree...and yet it is kind of interesting that Gerry's point seems to be that we have a better understanding of what 'nothingness' is now, compared to before, which we might, but... what does that have to do with Tao or our unboundaried nature with Tao? Unless one thinks ->

 

Tao = empty nothingness.

 

Which it doesn't. :D

 

IMO, of course..

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Yes, I remember. Didn't work then, likely won't work this time either.

 

Does "P" stand for peeing in your pants just prior to being run over by the eighteen wheeler?

Exactly! Or momentum, whichever seems funnier at the moment.
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As one of the "bouncers" at this esteemed watering hole, I would hate to see a long derail develop here. I suspect that Brian found Gerry's talk of the "quantum weeds" dismissive and indicative that Gerry knew not of what he was speaking, and is trying to tell him to put up or shut up. Hmmm . . ., might I ask you gentleman to take your disagreement outside, before it seriously interrupts the flow of discourse on Laozi's Chapter Five, a long time favorite of mine by the way, perhaps by starting another thread on the topic of entangled quantum weeds and how they trip up materialist presuppositions that go back to the Seventeenth Century revival of Epicureanism?

My point was really that we've really just pushed "I don't know" a notch or three further down the line but are no closer to explaining the ineffable than they were several thousand years ago. Those with experiential knowledge smile and nod, speaking loosely with odd metaphors they understand will be misunderstood, while those not yet having such experience quibble over linguistics.

 

I view the question largely with detachment, watch the cycles, and hold my own counsel.

 

:)

 

Back on track?

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