Bindi

Differences between Daoist and Buddhist understanding of emptiness

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11 minutes ago, Apech said:

According to wiki the ideas of the hun and po souls existed from 6th century BCE - which would pre-date the arrival of Buddhism ... in fact may pre-date the Buddha himself.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hun_and_po#History

 

Yep. What we need to get out of our heads though is the idea that "soul" and "body" refer to things on completely separate planes of reality. Even in a Christian context that idea is relatively recent, and I don't think it has any application in ancient Chinese cosmology.

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46 minutes ago, SirPalomides said:

I guess it would depend on how one defines "physical immortality." The problem is that there is no sharp distinction between "physical" and "spiritual"- what is "spiritual" is really just a more refined form of the same stuff that "physical" things are made of.

 

Many early Daoists did not¬†deny that the adept's body would break down at some point. They called this feigning death, and what survived was something very fine that had been cultivated in the body but¬†which enjoyed a mode of existence free of the constraints of our grosser forms. It was physical in the sense that it was of the same fundamental substance as everything else- but the same is true of the Apostle Paul's ŌÄőĹőĶŠŅ¶őľőĪ.


Feigning death while in fact ‚Äėascending into immortality‚Äô may be simply¬†a practical way of dealing with¬†the inescapable reality that someone died, and putting an immortal gloss on it. If your whole life is¬†lived in an attempt to achieve physical immortality, you are going to find justifications when the outcome for your peers is physical death.¬†
 

How we might¬†define ‚Äúphysical immortality‚ÄĚ may¬†be¬†a nuanced idea, but how were¬†early Daoists defining physical immortality?¬†

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14 minutes ago, Bindi said:


Feigning death while in fact ‚Äėascending into immortality‚Äô may be simply¬†a practical way of dealing with¬†the inescapable reality that someone died, and putting an immortal gloss on it. If your whole life is¬†lived in an attempt to achieve physical immortality, you are going to find justifications when the outcome for your peers is physical death.¬†
 

How we might¬†define ‚Äúphysical immortality‚ÄĚ may¬†be¬†a nuanced idea, but how were¬†early Daoists defining physical immortality?¬†

 

Some quotes from the Xiang'er (early Celestial Masters commentary on the Dao De Jing) from this article:

 

Humans should only preserve their bodies; they should not love their bodies. What does this mean? By maintaining the admonitions of the Way, we accumulate goodness and complete accomplishments; accumulate essences and complete spirits. When spirits are completed, the transcendents live long. This is why we treasure our bodies.

 

...

 

When the practices of one of the Way are completed, the spirits call on him to return. He leaves the world, feigns death, and passes through the Great Yin. He is born again and does not perish. Therefore, he is long-lived. Vulgar people do not attain good merit; they die and belong to the Earth Officers. This is to perish.

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1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

 

Yep. What we need to get out of our heads though is the idea that "soul" and "body" refer to things on completely separate planes of reality. Even in a Christian context that idea is relatively recent, and I don't think it has any application in ancient Chinese cosmology.

Well said.

 

I've come to realize palpably, this unshakable sense that there is no thing manifest, no aspect of mind that lacks spirit.  No place i have looked and encountered flesh, or form have I not also experienced spirit (when i'm listening that is) and that the essence of spirit is woven together with mind and form via awareness, which is as close to my true nature as I've been able to touch in a manner words can sort of describe.

 

Flesh, mind and animating spirit all arise together as triune aspects of one unfolding, co-arising fluid process of awareness.

 

No where i peer, no where i listen, no thing i encounter is devoid of spirit.  Stones, rivers, grass, city scapes... all teeming with spirit, woven from it.

 

The next question for me, which should probably be split off to avoid a deeper detour, is related to this...

 

Akin to my question/observation that all beliefs are thoughts, yet all thoughts are not beliefs...

No form lacks animating spirit, but is all spirit necessarily in a form?

Perhaps i move toward a place where spirit is synonimical of awareness, but there is something of spirit that to mind speaks of an animating principle.  Perhaps spirit is shift as it plays on mind/form...

 

Either way, the palpable, unshakable part stems from awareness being akin to true nature... that of which mind, spirit and form are mutually arising aspects woven into the local process "i", that experiences awareness on multiple levels in this field of aggregates, co-arising, co-mingling.

 

Bit of a side track, but wanted to chime in, in support of this concept that has become something of a pivot for me particularly in the last decade. 

 

thanks for a very potent conversation Bums.  you rock.

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8 hours ago, SirPalomides said:

 

Some quotes from the Xiang'er (early Celestial Masters commentary on the Dao De Jing) from this article:

 

Humans should only preserve their bodies; they should not love their bodies. What does this mean? By maintaining the admonitions of the Way, we accumulate goodness and complete accomplishments; accumulate essences and complete spirits. When spirits are completed, the transcendents live long. This is why we treasure our bodies.

 

...

 

When the practices of one of the Way are completed, the spirits call on him to return. He leaves the world, feigns death, and passes through the Great Yin. He is born again and does not perish. Therefore, he is long-lived. Vulgar people do not attain good merit; they die and belong to the Earth Officers. This is to perish.


As far as I can make out ‚Äúforsaking¬†one‚Äôs¬†body‚Ä̬†is first mentioned in the¬†second century CE, and¬†certainly this concept developed over time¬†to become¬†¬†one of the main Daoist perspectives.¬†
 

But for Taoists before this date the search appears to be for physical immortality. 
 

 

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And there is the further question, how does this search for immortality (whether transcendent or physical) relate to Buddhist emptiness?

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Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, Bindi said:


As far as I can make out ‚Äúforsaking¬†one‚Äôs¬†body‚Ä̬†is first mentioned in the¬†second century CE, and¬†certainly this concept developed over time¬†to become¬†¬†one of the main Daoist perspectives.¬†

 

Can you cite the source of the bold ?

 

Edited by dawei

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32 minutes ago, Bindi said:

But for Taoists before this date the search appears to be for physical immortality. 
 

 

What date do you put on daoist search for immortality ?

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1 minute ago, dawei said:

 

Can you cite the source of the bold ?

 


Yes, on the second page here.

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3 minutes ago, Bindi said:


Yes, on the second page here.

 

Thanks... so the Celestial Masters who cite Laozi... and many see Daoism coming out of Shamanism...  but the organized idea is in 200 CE..  but not a 1,000 years earlier when shamans were interacting with deities?

 

That earlier, original way seems a kind of forsaking one's body... but I will accept the ideas may be different.   IMO, Shaman's were intercessors between heaven and earth because they withdrew their 'self' from the equation to let the spirit flow.   So I am willing to see there may be a difference between a path where you are trying to reach immortality and a path where you are with deities. 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, dawei said:

 

Thanks... so the Celestial Masters who cite Laozi... and many see Daoism coming out of Shamanism...  but the organized idea is in 200 CE..  but not a 1,000 years earlier when shamans were interacting with deities?

 

That earlier, original way seems a kind of forsaking one's body... but I will accept the ideas may be different.   IMO, Shaman's were intercessors between heaven and earth because they withdrew their 'self' from the equation to let the spirit flow.   So I am willing to see there may be a difference between a path where you are trying to reach immortality and a path where you are with deities. 

 

wasn’t Xi Wang Mu a shaman, and an immortal?


Xi Wang Mu attained it and took her seat on Shao Guang mountain.
No one knows her beginning and no one knows her end. - Zhuangzi 

 

One of the oldest deities of China is Xi Wangmu (Hsi Wang Mu). She lives in the Kunlun mountains in the far west, at the margin of heaven and earth. In a garden hidden by high clouds, her peaches of immortality grow on a colossal Tree, only ripening once every 3000 years. The Tree is a cosmic axis that connects heaven and earth, a ladder traveled by spirits and shamans.

 

There is also the¬†mythological¬†langgan¬†tree of immortality¬†found in the western paradise of¬†Kunlun Mountain, and the name of the classic¬†waidan¬†alchemical¬†elixir of immortality¬†langgan huadan¬†ÁźÖÁéēŤŹĮšłĻ "Elixir Efflorescence of Langgan".

 

The first references to langgan are found in Chinese classics from the Warring States period (475-221 BCE) and Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE), which describe it as a valuable gemstone and mineral drug, as well as the mythological fruit of the langgan tree of immortality on Kunlun Mountain. 
 

 

Edited by Bindi

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This thread was originally looking at differences between Buddhist and Taoist understanding of emptiness. I was just reading the Wikipedia article on Taoism to see what it said about immortality, and came across this line:


Taoism on the other hand also incorporated Buddhist elements during the Tang dynasty, such as monasteries, vegetarianism, prohibition of alcohol, the doctrine of emptiness, and collecting scripture in tripartite organisation.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Bindi said:

 

wasn’t Xi Wang Mu a shaman, and an immortal?


maybe I’m getting too pedantic, but how is that an example for Taoist search for immortality?  I guess you mean by appealing to such stories and not about any specific practices or goals.


their difference on emptiness seems to me that a Buddhist can sit in an empty room and say everything is there. A Taoist can sit in a full room say say, nothing is there. 

 

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7 minutes ago, dawei said:


maybe I’m getting too pedantic, but how is that an example for Taoist search for immortality?  I guess you mean by appealing to such stories and not about any specific practices or goals.


their difference on emptiness seems to me that a Buddhist can sit in an empty room and say everything is there. A Taoist can sit in a full room say say, nothing is there. 

 


I was (attempting to) respond to your assertion that shamans had a kind of forsaking of their bodies, by saying that Xi Wang Mu as a shaman was considered to be an immortal in her body, or so I believe. The whole immortality topic seems to run deep in early Chinese thought, before Daoism was even a thing, and Daoism seems to have incorporated this belief system into itself. 
 

I would have thought a Buddhist might say there is nothing there, while it seems a Daoist  might say a lot of different things, there’s not one party line. I would say when you are completely empty, and I would mean of all conditioning, then you are aligned with the Dao, and immortality or at least longevity might actually be possible in this state. 

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Posted (edited)

Tao  is certainly related to jing, qi  and shen , it is through them  that Tao is  embodied and expressed in this world ,  reading  writings like  Chung tzu and Huangdi Nei Jing ( which lays the foundation of TCM and acupuncture ) ...etc. will tell people  this clearly . And attaining qi , which is limitless and everywhere ,  implies the possibility  of  physical immortality. Of course, some people may only like some of its philosophical implication  , not anything practical , which is nothing wrong . These people are  like visitors who visit a diamond mine and admire how beautiful it is , then  leave it without bringing anything precious out  .  On the other hand ,  there are some other visitors  who not only admire the beauty of the mine,  but they can  dig and bring with them many previous stones when leaving .

 

Edited by exorcist_1699
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Posted (edited)
On 2020/3/3 at 8:31 AM, Bindi said:


This captures the ancient Daoist end point¬†perfectly for me, the¬† "Ś§©ŚúįŤá≥Á≤ĺ" (¬†¬†"ultimate jing of the universe" ), the¬†‚Äúmedicine for everlasting life‚ÄĚ.¬†
 

I wonder is this the same as the fruit of the Langgan tree?

 

 

 

Most people can't directly access the " ultimate jing of the universe"¬† because there are physical( bodily ) and spiritual boundaries¬†¬†that limit them , however, they can¬†¬†access the internalized form of that¬†¬† jing¬† , now¬†¬†called Yuan-jing ( " ŚÖÉÁ≤嬆", the original jing) after its having entered the body¬†¬†, via paying attention to their lower abdomen.¬†

 

After having tasted that initial doze of qi arising there , they should then  shift to " polishing" ( ie by not polishing * ) their mind into some kind of mindless Mind  as  the  immense jing and qi  outside definitely can't be accessed through the minds stuffed with  earthly impurity . With quality of  qi as the counter-checking criterion, they can check whether their mind are doing it correctly , much reliable than what  we   see in   Zen Koans ( those silly questions and answers mainly  talk about different levels of emptiness/ spiritual achievement  that  only insiders/ practitioners understand, hardly anything meaningful for outsiders or people not adopting their ways..) .

 

* By not polishing  : first you pay attention to it , then you ignore such "an  attention" ,  then you forget ever having such "an ignorance"...; no worry whether you can grasp  it  as in that  process your qi will lend you a hand .Don't forget that inside qi there is some delicate , clever stuff called  shen waiting for you to provide help.

 

Edited by exorcist_1699
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On 3/6/2020 at 11:50 PM, Bindi said:

As far as I can make out ‚Äúforsaking¬†one‚Äôs¬†body‚Ä̬†is first mentioned in the¬†second century CE, and¬†certainly this concept developed over time¬†to become¬†¬†one of the main Daoist perspectives.¬†
 

But for Taoists before this date the search appears to be for physical immortality. 

 

How have you arrived at this conclusion?

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