Marblehead

Mair 17:1-4

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"How, then," asked the Earl of the Yellow River, "are we to demarcate the value and magnitude of a thing, whether it be intrinsic or extrinsic?"

The Overlord of the Northern Sea said, "Observed in the light of the Way, things are neither prized nor despised; observed in the light of things, they prize themselves and despise others; observed in the light of the common lot, one's value is not determined by oneself.  Observed in the light of gradations, if we consider to be large what is larger than something else, then the myriad things are without exception large; if we consider to be small what is smaller than something else, then all the myriad things are without exception small.  If we regard heaven and earth as a mustard seed and the tip of a downy hair as a mountain, we can perceive the numerousness of their relative gradations.

Observed in the light of merit, if we grant whatever merit they have, then the myriad things without exception have merit; if we point to whatever merit they lack, then the myriad things lack merit.  If we recognize that east and west, though opposites, cannot be without each other, their shared merit will be fixed.  Observed in the light of inclination, if we approve whatever they approve, then the myriad things without exception may be approved; if we condemn whatever they condemn, then the myriad things without exception may be condemned.  If we recognize that Yao and Chieh approved of themselves but condemned each other, we can perceive their controlling inclinations.

"Long ago, Yao yielded his throne to Shun and the latter became emperor, but when K'uai yielded his throne to Tzu Chih, they were both cut down.  T'ang and Wu became kings through contention, but the Duke of Po {{T'ang and Wu were the founding kings of the Shang and Chou dynasties respectively.  The Duke of Po was the grandson of King P'ing of Ch'u.  His father, the crown prince, was demoted when the king became infatuated with a woman from the state of Ch'in.  The prince fled to Cheng where he married a woman who gave birth to the Duke of Po.  When the latter grew up, he returned to Ch'u and raised an armed insurrection in 479 B.C.E. to take revenge for his father, but was defeated and eventually committed suicide.}} contended and was destroyed.  Viewed in this light, the etiquette of contending and yielding, the conduct of Yao and Chieh, may be either prized or despised in accord with the times, but may not be taken as constants.  A beam or a ridge-pole may be used to breach a city wall, but it cannot be used to plug a hole, which is to say that implements have specific purposes.  A Ch'ichi or a Hualiu {{Fabulous horses; the Chinese counterparts of Bucephalus and Pegasus.}} may gallop a thousand tricents in a day, but for catching rats they're not as good as a wild cat or a weasel, which is to say that creatures have different skills.  An owl can catch fleas at night and can discern the tip of a downy hair, but when it comes out during the day it stares blankly and can't even see a hill or mountain, which is to say that beings have different natures.  Therefore, when it is said, 'Make right your teacher, not wrong; make good government your teacher, not disorder,' this is to misunderstand the principle of heaven and earth and the attributes of the myriad things.  It would be like making heaven your teacher and ignoring earth, like making yin your teacher and ignoring yang.  The unworkability of this is clear.  Still, if one goes on talking like this and does not give it up, one is either being stupid or deceptive.  The emperors and kings of old had different modes of abdication, and the rulers of the three dynasties had different modes of succession.  He who acts contrary to the times and contravenes custom is called a usurper; he who accords with the times and conforms to custom is called a disciple of righteousness.  Keep silent, oh Earl of the Yellow River!  How could you know about the gate of honor and baseness and about the practitioners of small and large?"
 
 
Edited by Marblehead
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On ‚Äé5‚Äé/‚Äé6‚Äé/‚Äé2018 at 8:39 AM, Taoist Texts said:

not sure what the takeaway lesson is here

Not sure either but here's my take:

 

All things of the universe have their own stand-alone value.  None better than any other.

 

Observed in the light of the Way (Tao) every aspect of the universe in needed in order for the universe to be complete.

 

It is we who place value on one thing over another.  If we are on a path with the light of the Way we understand this and make as few value judgements as possible.  This will allow us to be free of the striving of desire for things we would otherwise deem valuable.

 

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1 hour ago, Marblehead said:

Not sure either but here's my take:

 

All things of the universe have their own stand-alone value.  None better than any other.

 

Observed in the light of the Way (Tao) every aspect of the universe in needed in order for the universe to be complete.

 

It is we who place value on one thing over another.  If we are on a path with the light of the Way we understand this and make as few value judgements as possible.  This will allow us to be free of the striving of desire for things we would otherwise deem valuable.

 

Agreeing with Mh ,,, the point reads to  me a delineation of the view, that valuations , are contingent upon circumstances and comparisons 

and so one needs to consider things individually in their context . 

a nutshell sized excerpt..

"the etiquette of contending and yielding, the conduct of Yao and Chieh, may be either prized or despised in accord with the times, but may not be taken as constants"

So when one might be tempted to label external things and people as either , having virtue ,or lack of it , in and of itself, that is a false view - being inconstant. 

 

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I feel there are two "modes" of valuation: the subjective mode and the objective mode.

 

In subjective mode there are "good" things and "bad" things, and goodness or badness is ultimately tied to utility. This is how what is good for me might be bad for you, and vice versa.

 

In objective mode there is only "good". Why? Because objectively everything serves a purpose, we just don't know what that purpose is. Since everything does serve a purpose, everything is good. Of course, I admit that I accept on faith that everything has a purpose and cannot prove that to be true, but neither can I prove it to be false, so I let it stand.

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I like to think that the objective is beyond valuation; beyond good and evil.  The objective is the "what is" in the universe.  But I'll give you credit for wanting everything to be good.

 

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The idea that from the perspective of the Tao everything is good also conflicts with the Tao being spontaneously what it is (thus without motive).

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1 minute ago, wandelaar said:

The idea that from the perspective of the Tao everything is good also conflicts with the Tao being spontaneously what it is (thus without motive).

Important concept when discussing wu wei as well.

 

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I don't think people can (or should) be entirely without motives, because that would go against our nature as well. We want to go on living in the everyday world even after we have seen things from the perspective of the Tao. There is a danger in entirely ignoring the differences in usefulness, because from the perspective of the Tao nothing is more valuable than anything else. I once read a Tibetan master calling it "going cuckoo" and giving the example of an enlightened monk trying to pay with pebbles on the airport for taking a flight. Whatever things are from the perspective of the Tao, in daily life some things are useful and others not depending on the circumstances.

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My resolution of your basically correct problematical consideration ,, is as follows..

Obviously Chuang eats , so it should be recognized that there is a line of demarcation between that which is done within ones boundaries of purview , and the stuff which extends beyond it - considered problematical. 

Their line is drawn at the border of abiding by ones innate- constant - harmonious human nature,

and that which is unbalanced -excessive -destructive. 

Its often not a far leap from what we might call common sense.

Though there are exceptions , they too draw this line, at least ,,  for the great man ( I think , not the sage though) 

 

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Drawing the line between healthy and unhealthy desires also forms the basis of Epicurus' approach to living well. I think it's a very fundamental principle that when accepted solves many of life's problems.

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1 hour ago, wandelaar said:

The idea that from the perspective of the Tao everything is good also conflicts with the Tao being spontaneously what it is (thus without motive).

 

At this point we're entering into a linguistic mess. If everything, from the perspective of Tao, is good (and nothing is bad) then good loses its meaning. Thus everything could equally be meaningless from the perspective of Tao.

 

Subjectively, I choose to interpret everything as good from the perspective of Tao since this has the most utility to me. E.G. it's best for my sanity and overall mental health.

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11 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

Drawing the line between healthy and unhealthy desires also forms the basis of Epicurus' approach to living well. I think it's a very fundamental principle that when accepted solves many of life's problems.

Ok, yeah, that is a fair comparison , I can go with that.

But I want to reinforce that I think they did not label , umm eating ,itself, as good or bad. The desire to eat as good or bad , the enjoyment of eating , as good or bad.. but rather the extension beyond a balance point on the spectrum of consumption. 

Similar to , and ,  As Mh once said to me,  - Do the right thing, ( which is an elusive standard , IMO)  

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9 minutes ago, Lost in Translation said:

 

At this point we're entering into a linguistic mess. If everything, from the perspective of Tao, is good (and nothing is bad) then good loses its meaning. Thus everything could equally be meaningless from the perspective of Tao.

 

 

:) it is ! 

The sun shines on the wicked and the just , treating all men like straw dogs, and blowing out new life like a bellows ... ;)

Edited by Stosh
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@ Lost in Translation

 

If the supposition of "everything being good" feels good to you, there should be some factual content to it. How else could it make you feel good, if it were only empty words?

Edited by wandelaar

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10 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

If the supposition of "everything being good" feels good to you, there should be some factual content to it.

 

Are you asking me for factual content to justify my feelings, or are you asserting I feel this because there is some underlying factual basis?

Edited by Lost in Translation

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It looks strange to me that you would feel good just because of using the words "everything is good" in stead of "everything is meaningless", where the factual content of both expressions would be the same. So I think the first expression "everything is good" for you somehow points at another basic constitution of the world than the second expression "everything is meaningless".

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On the one hand, words are just words and don't mean anything. On the other hand, words contain power and mean everything.
 

On 5/6/2018 at 3:39 AM, Marblehead said:

Keep silent, oh Earl of the Yellow River! 

 

I think Chuang Zu saw this well, hence the above quote.

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