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Yueya

Dao, Dualities, Oneness, Creation, and the Importance of Distinctions for us Humans

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The zhenren Philemon speaks:

 

"Now hear: I begin with nothingness. Nothingness is the same as the fullness. In infinity full is as good as empty. Nothingness is empty and full. You might just as well say anything else about nothingness, for instance, that it is white, or black, or that it does not exist, or that it exists. That which is endless and eternal has no qualities, since it has all qualities.

 

"We call this nothingness or fullness the Dao. Therein both thinking and being cease, since the eternal and endless possess no qualities. No one is in it, for they would then be distinct from the Dao, and would possess qualities that would distinguish him as something distinct from the Dao. 

 

"In the Dao there is nothing and everything. It is fruitless to think about the Dao, for this would mean self-dissolution. "Creation is not in the Dao, but in itself. The Dao is the beginning and end of creation.  It pervades creation, just as the sunlight pervades the air. Although the Dao is altogether pervasive, creation has no share in it, just as a wholly transparent body becomes neither light nor dark through the light pervading it. 

 

"We are, however, the Dao itself, for we are a part of the eternal and the endless. But we have no share therein, as we are infinitely removed from the Dao; not spatially or temporally, but essentially, since we are distinguished from the Dao in our essence as creation, which is confined within time and space. 

 

"Yet because we are parts of the Dao, the Dao is also in us. Even in the smallest point the Dao is endless, eternal, and whole, since small and great are qualities that are contained in it. It is nothingness that is whole and continuous throughout. Only figuratively, therefore, do I speak of creation as part of the Dao. Because, actually, the Dao is nowhere divided, since it is nothingness. We are also the whole Dao, because, figuratively, the Dao is the smallest point in us, merely assumed, not existing, and the boundless firmament about us. But why then do we speak of the Dao at all, if it is everything and nothing? 

 

"I speak about it in order to begin somewhere, and also to free you from the delusion that somewhere without or within there is something fixed or in some way established from the outset. Every so-called fixed and certain thing is only relative. That alone is fixed and certain that is subject to change. 

 

"Creation, however, is subject to change; therefore it alone is fixed and determined because it has qualities: indeed, it is quality itself. 

 

"Thus we ask: how did the creation come into being? Creatures came into being, but not creation: since creation is the very quality of the Dao, as much as non-creation, eternal death. Creation is ever-present, and so is death. The Dao has everything, differentiation and non-differentiation. 

 

"Differentiation is creation. It is differentiated. Differentiation is its essence, and therefore it differentiates. Therefore man differentiates, since his essence is differentiation. Therefore he also differentiates the qualities of the Dao that do not exist. He differentiates them on account of his own essence. Therefore he must speak of those qualities of the Dao that do not exist. 

 

"You say: 'what use is there in speaking about it at all?' Did you yourself not say that it is not worth thinking about the Dao? 

 

"I mentioned that to free you from the delusion that we are able to think about the Dao. When we distinguish the qualities of the Dao, we are speaking from the ground of our own differentiated state and about our own differentiation, but have effectively said nothing about the Dao. Yet we need to speak about our own differentiation, so that we may sufficiently differentiate ourselves. Our very nature is differentiation. If we are not true to this nature we do not differentiate ourselves enough. We must therefore make distinctions between qualities. 

 

"You ask: what harm is there in not differentiating oneself?' If we do not differentiate, we move beyond our essence, beyond creation, and we fall into non-differentiation, which is the other quality of the Dao. We fall into the Dao itself and cease to be created beings. We lapse into dissolution in nothingness. This is the death of the creature. Therefore we die to the same extent that we do not differentiate. Hence the creature's essence strives toward differentiation and struggles against primeval, perilous sameness. This is called the principium individuations. This principle is the essence of the creature. From this you can see why non-differentiation and non-distinction pose a great danger to the creature. 

 

"We must, therefore, distinguish the qualities of the Dao. These qualities are pairs of opposites, such as: 

 

"the effective and the ineffective, 
the fullness and the emptiness, 
the living and the dead, 
the different and the same, 
light and darkness, 
hot and cold, 
force and matter, 
time and space, 
good and evil, 
the beautiful and the ugly, 
the one and the many, etc. 

 

"The pairs of opposites are the qualities of the Dao that do not exist, because they cancel themselves out. As we are the Dao itself, we also have all these qualities in us. Since our nature is grounded in differentiation, we have these qualities in the name and under the sign of differentiation, which means: 

 

"First: these qualities are differentiated and separate in us; therefore they do not cancel each other out, but are effective. Thus we are the victims of the pairs of opposites. The Dao is rent within us. 

 

"Second: these qualities belong to the Dao, and we must possess and live them only in the name and under the sign of differentiation. We must differentiate ourselves from these qualities. They cancel each other out in the Dao, but not in us. Distinction from them saves us. 

 

"When we strive for the good or the beautiful, we forget our essence, which is differentiation, and we fall subject to the spell of the qualities of the Dao, which are the pairs of opposites. We endeavor to attain the good and the beautiful, yet at the same time we also seize the evil and the ugly since in the Dao these are one with the good and the beautiful. But if we remain true to our essence, which is differentiation, we differentiate ourselves from the good and the beautiful, and hence from the evil and ugly. And thus we do not fall under the spell of the Dao, namely into nothingness and dissolution.  

 

"You object: you said that difference and sameness are also qualities of the Dao. What is it like if we strive for distinctiveness? Are we, in so doing, not true to our own nature? And must we nonetheless fall into sameness when we strive for distinctiveness? 

 

"You must not forget that the Dao has no qualities. We create these through thinking. If, therefore, you strive for distinctiveness or sameness, or any qualities whatsoever, you pursue thoughts that flow to you out of the Dao: thoughts, namely concerning the non-existing qualities of the Dao. 
Inasmuch as you run after these thoughts, you fall again into the Dao, and attain distinctiveness and sameness at the same time. Not your thinking, but your essence, is differentiation. Therefore you must not strive for what you conceive as distinctiveness, but for your own essence. At bottom, therefore, there is only one striving, namely the striving for one's own essence. If you had this striving, you would not need to know anything about the Dao and its qualities, and yet you would attain the right goal by virtue of your own essence. Since, however, thought alienates us from our essence, I must teach you that knowledge with which you can bridle your thoughts."
 

Edited by Yueya
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For me, the above post gives good insight from a non-Chinese perspective into reality as described by classical Daoism. It’s from the first of Philemon’s Seven Sermons to the Dead from Jung’s The Red Book. The only change I’ve made is to replace the unfamiliar word ‘Pleroma’ in the original with ‘Dao’ because in this context it’s an equivalent term that’s more familiar to us.

 

(Jung later described his guide Philemon as follows: “He was simply a superior knowledge, and he taught me psychological objectivity and the actuality of the soul. He formulated and expressed everything which I had never thought.”)

 

Comments welcome, but so too is silent contemplation.  If it feels appropriate, I’ll add further content from the other sermons.

 

Edited by Yueya
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Well, the article didn't cause me to change my mind regarding the word "Dao" as being a verb.  In fact, it re-enforced it.

 

Yes, Dao is the process of creation and destruction (as well as all other universal processes) but it is not itself creation and destruction.

 

 

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I should make clear that for me the above account is of particular interest because it’s in no way written as commentary on Daoism. It derives from direct knowing, and for Jung as a Christian, it expands on a strand of Christianity that’s been suppressed by the church from its earliest days. It has nothing directly to do with Daoist thought – the parallel is a connection I’ve emphasised by transcribing his ‘Pleroma’ as ‘Dao’.  

 

The Pleroma, or fullness, is a term from Gnosticism. In 1929, Jung said: "The Gnostics . . . expressed it as Pleroma, a state of fullness where the pairs of opposites, yea and nay, day and night, are together, then when they 'become,' it is either day or night. In the state of 'promise' before they become, they are non-existent, there is neither white nor black, good nor bad".

 

9 hours ago, Marblehead said:

Well, the article didn't cause me to change my mind regarding the word "Dao" as being a verb.  In fact, it re-enforced it.

 

 

Yeah, I've noticed you like that idea....and you're not alone:

 

In his later writings, Jung used the term to designate a state of pre-existence and potentiality, identifying it with the Tibetan Bardo: "He must . . . accustom himself to the idea that 'time' is a relative concept and needs to be compensated by the concept of a 'simultaneous' Bardo — or pleromatic existence of all historical processes. What exists in the Pleroma as an eternal 'process' appears in time as aperiodic sequence, that is to say, it is repeated many times in an irregular pattern"

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31 minutes ago, Yueya said:

Yeah, I've noticed you like that idea....and you're not alone:

 

In his later writings, Jung used the term ...

Just to make clear that I did not steal the concept from Jung, I have never read Jung, my understanding of Dao being a verb is self-inspired.

 

And I suppose I could say that the inspiration was partly a result of my discussions with Hindu and Buddhist members here.

 

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1 hour ago, Yueya said:

I should make clear that for me the above account is of particular interest because it’s in no way written as commentary on Daoism. It derives from direct knowing, and for Jung as a Christian, it expands on a strand of Christianity that’s been suppressed by the church from its earliest days. It has nothing directly to do with Daoist thought – the parallel is a connection I’ve emphasised by transcribing his ‘Pleroma’ as ‘Dao’.  

 

The Pleroma, or fullness, is a term from Gnosticism. In 1929, Jung said: "The Gnostics . . . expressed it as Pleroma, a state of fullness where the pairs of opposites, yea and nay, day and night, are together, then when they 'become,' it is either day or night. In the state of 'promise' before they become, they are non-existent, there is neither white nor black, good nor bad".

 

The 'unite the opposites' approach can also be found in Yoga methods:

 

"The aim of swara yoga, and the other different yogas, is to activate all the layers of sushumna nadi by uniting ida and pingala, the dualistic aspects of man's nature and energy, so that his consciousness may be expanded from its present limited state."

 

As far as I can see if we work with what we do know within ourselves, our dualities, somewhat counter-intuitively we make space for what we don't know to actualise within ourselves.

 

1 hour ago, Yueya said:

 

Yeah, I've noticed you like that idea....and you're not alone:

 

In his later writings, Jung used the term to designate a state of pre-existence and potentiality, identifying it with the Tibetan Bardo: "He must . . . accustom himself to the idea that 'time' is a relative concept and needs to be compensated by the concept of a 'simultaneous' Bardo — or pleromatic existence of all historical processes. What exists in the Pleroma as an eternal 'process' appears in time as aperiodic sequence, that is to say, it is repeated many times in an irregular pattern"

 

 

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1 hour ago, Marblehead said:

Just to make clear that I did not steal the concept from Jung, I have never read Jung, my understanding of Dao being a verb is self-inspired.

 

And I suppose I could say that the inspiration was partly a result of my discussions with Hindu and Buddhist members here.

 

 

It never occurred to me that you did get that from Jung. I know from previous posts that you don’t read Jung. 

 

I note in both my last comment and yours we make distinctions. That to me is of particular interest for what the OP says about differentiation.....

 

"The pairs of opposites are the qualities of the Dao that do not exist, because they cancel themselves out. As we are the Dao itself, we also have all these qualities in us. Since our nature is grounded in differentiation, we have these qualities in the name and under the sign of differentiation, which means:

 

"First: these qualities are differentiated and separate in us; therefore they do not cancel each other out, but are effective. Thus we are the victims of the pairs of opposites. The Dao is rent within us."

 

Hence we are compelled to make these distinctions. But how to become free of this is the question that most interests me.  And there’s no easy answer to that. So many different approaches: yoga, as Bindi mentions above, and alchemy is centred on the problem of opposites. Both of these are important for me. The Daodejing suggests reverting to a preconscious state. Zhuangzu repeatedly highlights the folly of endless differentiation, yet he himself makes many. However, Zhuangzu does it with humour. He is self-conscious of his actions. And that is a vital distinction on the way to freeing ourselves from being unconscious victims of Dao; of being submersed in the eternal interplay of yin and yang forces.  I consciously engage in making distinctions knowing that is in harmony with an essential aspect of my innate nature as a conscious being.  According to the OP:

 

"Second: these qualities belong to the Dao, and we must possess and live them only in the name and under the sign of differentiation. We must differentiate ourselves from these qualities. They cancel each other out in the Dao, but not in us. Distinction from them saves us."

 

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12 minutes ago, Yueya said:

Hence we are compelled to make these distinctions. But how to become free of this is the question that most interests me.  And there’s no easy answer to that.

I think it is not even a good idea to attempt to free our self of these distinctions.  Better, I think, to view the full picture from a distance (before becoming attached) so that we can see the distinction (prior to attachment) and then define the distinctions if there was something in the picture that we feel we need to interact with.

 

(Not saying I can do this but it sounds logical in my mind.)

 

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Where`s Rene and her both/and when we need her?

 

Seems to me that some tensions can`t be resolved by the mind and the polarity between multiplicity and radical oneness might be one of them.  What we may be able to do is embody the resolution by gently holding both poles in a spirit of inclusivity.  Then perhaps a third space can open up that is beyond both dualism and non-dualism and lovingly cradles both.

 

 

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13 minutes ago, Marblehead said:

I think it is not even a good idea to attempt to free our self of these distinctions. 

 

Agreed, they are not the enemy.

 

Quote

 

Better, I think, to view the full picture from a distance (before becoming attached) so that we can see the distinction (prior to attachment) and then define the distinctions if there was something in the picture that we feel we need to interact with.

 

(Not saying I can do this but it sounds logical in my mind.)

 

 

IME it is the interaction (copulation in alchemical terms)between yin and yang within myself at increasingly higher levels of consciousness that is ultimately satisfying.

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6 minutes ago, liminal_luke said:

Seems to me that some tensions can`t be resolved by the mind and the polarity between multiplicity and radical oneness might be one of them. 

 

Thumbs up!

 

This is why -  in matters of spirit -  I have learned to accept paradox. Things don't need to make sense, and oftentimes that is for the best.

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6 hours ago, Marblehead said:

I think it is not even a good idea to attempt to free our self of these distinctions.

 

Agreed, to the extent I explain in the remainder of that comment about the importance of self-awareness.  

 

Quote

 

Better, I think, to view the full picture from a distance (before becoming attached) so that we can see the distinction (prior to attachment) and then define the distinctions if there was something in the picture that we feel we need to interact with.

 

(Not saying I can do this but it sounds logical in my mind.)

 

 

I like this idea but viewing the full picture is a huge stumbling block. Everyone thinks they're seeing the big picture. For me, accepting my view must always be partial and limited is a good start to seeing a bigger picture. And (hopefully) that automatically limits my attachment to my own thinking.  

Edited by Yueya
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1 hour ago, Lost in Translation said:

 

That is why -  in matters of spirit -  I have learned to accept paradox. Things don't need to make sense, and oftentimes that is for the best.

 

Agreed. What about applying it to the polarity of contemporary political debate? I very occasionally browse the Trump threads here and see much demonisation of the opposition, each side passionately trying to make America 'good and beautiful'. But the Dao dictates the impossibility of this: "We endeavor to attain the good and the beautiful, yet at the same time we also seize the evil and the ugly since in the Dao these are one with the good and the beautiful."  In Jungian terms, the debate is hopelessly contaminated by people not realising that they're projecting their own shadows onto other people. Jung was likewise critical of the way the Christian church posits a one-sided God that represents only the good and tries to abolish evil. Yet good and evil form an inseparable pair of opposites and it's impossible to banish one half of a pair of opposites. 

 

(I'm not after answers here, and certainly not claiming such debate isn't vital, but a greater awareness of some of the forces that shape our psyche can make it more healthy. ) 

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4 hours ago, Yueya said:

What about applying it to the polarity of contemporary political debate?

 

When a thing is pushed to its extreme it naturally transitions to its opposite. Yang into Yin. Yin into Yang. Such is the way of things.

 

4 hours ago, Yueya said:

"We endeavor to attain the good and the beautiful, yet at the same time we also seize the evil and the ugly since in the Dao these are one with the good and the beautiful."

 

This is beautiful. Why are there quotation marks? Who are you quoting? (NVM, I see the quote in the OP)

 

4 hours ago, Yueya said:

In Jungian terms, the debate is hopelessly contaminated by people not realising that they're projecting their own shadows onto other people. Jung was likewise critical of the way the Christian church posits a one-sided God that represents only the good and tries to abolish evil. Yet good and evil form an inseparable pair of opposites and it's impossible to banish one half of a pair of opposites.

 

Carl Jung was a true genius. He is a precious gift to mankind. I hope future generations recognize this.

Edited by Lost in Translation
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11 hours ago, liminal_luke said:

Where`s Rene and her both/and when we need her?

 

Seems to me that some tensions can`t be resolved by the mind and the polarity between multiplicity and radical oneness might be one of them.  What we may be able to do is embody the resolution by gently holding both poles in a spirit of inclusivity.  Then perhaps a third space can open up that is beyond both dualism and non-dualism and lovingly cradles both.

 

 

 

11 hours ago, Lost in Translation said:

 

Thumbs up!

 

This is why -  in matters of spirit -  I have learned to accept paradox. Things don't need to make sense, and oftentimes that is for the best.

Again, how grateful I am for all the wonderful folks who share here!

 

Such words are treasure to me, and the timing of encountering them just this now... as I transition from my dream life to my waking life...  uncanny!

 

Thanks Bums... you have no idea how your words ring like bells in my life all through my days!

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