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Howdy:

I'm interested in whether any folks on this discussion board follow Daoism as a practical philosophy. I've seen a lot of conversation about energetics, Chinese medicine, Qi, and so on. I don't want to be provocative, but I've come to the conclusion that most of this stuff is nonsense. But having said that, I do believe that there is a really practical core to Daoism that has sustained it over the centuries. Let me illustrate with a practical example from my home town.

There is a small park that exists where two rivers meet. It is quite nice, but it gets in the way of two major highways connecting. The local engineering department usually controls where roads go and the planning department only gets to "pretty up" the mess that the engineering department creates. The planners really wanted to save the park, but they lacked the power to do so. 

The local university had a convention of North American timber framers and offered to have a "building bee" as part of the conference if the city would provide the materials and land, plus a project for them to do. Some genius in the planning department decided to get them to build a beautiful covered pedestrian bridge over one of the rivers. They built it and the city fell in love---people get married on the bridge. It's a tourist destination. 

A couple years later the engineering department decided it was time to connect the two highways and they wanted to build a concrete bridge next to the covered pedestrian bridge. An instant mob of enraged citizens showed up with pitchforks and torches, and Council quickly vetoed the plan to connect the two highways. 

I never understood what happened until later when a friend who was then a City Councilor and eventually was mayor for several terms explained that the planning department chose the spot and the project specifically to stop the Engineering dept from connecting the two highways. I would say that this was a case of "doing without doing". I would even go a step farther and say that the covered bridge is acting like a "land God" in my city because people worshiping it has resulted in the preservation of nature.

I think that as more people in the West adopt Daoism into their lives, it is important to emphasize the concrete ways that Daoist principles can improve people's day-to-day lives.  

Guelph%20Covered%20Bridge_main.jpg

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Yes - you are right, there is hardly any discussion on Taoism as a practical philosophy of life. When I joined this forum I started a few topics on Taoism as applied to daily life. But hardly anybody seems to care about it. We will see if things have changed for the better. If so - then I will join in the discussion. If not - then I will simply continue following my own way and leave others to theirs.

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45 minutes ago, Cloudwalking Owl said:

Howdy:

I'm interested in whether any folks on this discussion board follow Daoism as a practical philosophy. I've seen a lot of conversation about energetics, Chinese medicine, Qi, and so on. I don't want to be provocative, but I've come to the conclusion that most of this stuff is nonsense.

 

"I don't want to be provocative, but.." [I am going to anyway]

 

Have you ever considered how many phrases which come before the word "but" tend to indicate just the opposite of the explicitly stated intent? 

 

Not to be rude/dismissive (or whatever word we wish to place here), but for some reason I find this odd form of "civility" quite humorous; perhaps because it honestly seems uncivil - while placing the burdon of civility upon the hearer/reader and somehow absolving the utterer/writer of any responsibility for furthering the "civility" of discourse.. :lol:

 

It's like the grown up version of "please." Consider, if you will, a five year old's voice echoing the words, "but I said please" - because we all know it's a "magical word" which somehow makes denial an impossibility. 

 

:still laughing:

 

Yes, you were provocative, yes you wanted to be, and yes, you chose to be - which is entirely acceptable and, to me, just too funny (with the way you danced around it.)

 

 

Quote

But having said that, I do believe that there is a really practical core to Daoism that has sustained it over the centuries. Let me illustrate with a practical example from my home town.

There is a small park that exists where two rivers meet. It is quite nice, but it gets in the way of two major highways connecting. The local engineering department usually controls where roads go and the planning department only gets to "pretty up" the mess that the engineering department creates. The planners really wanted to save the park, but they lacked the power to do so. 

The local university had a convention of North American timber framers and offered to have a "building bee" as part of the conference if the city would provide the materials and land, plus a project for them to do. Some genius in the planning department decided to get them to build a beautiful covered pedestrian bridge over one of the rivers. They built it and the city fell in love---people get married on the bridge. It's a tourist destination. 

A couple years later the engineering department decided it was time to connect the two highways and they wanted to build a concrete bridge next to the covered pedestrian bridge. An instant mob of enraged citizens showed up with pitchforks and torches, and Council quickly vetoed the plan to connect the two highways. 

I never understood what happened until later when a friend who was then a City Councilor and eventually was mayor for several terms explained that the planning department chose the spot and the project specifically to stop the Engineering dept from connecting the two highways. I would say that this was a case of "doing without doing". I would even go a step farther and say that the covered bridge is acting like a "land God" in my city because people worshiping it has resulted in the preservation of nature.

I think that as more people in the West adopt Daoism into their lives, it is important to emphasize the concrete ways that Daoist principles can improve people's day-to-day lives.  

Guelph%20Covered%20Bridge_main.jpg

 

Neat story. Thank you for sharing it.

Edited by ilumairen
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I love stories...

 

here's one.

 

there once was a policeman

who beat his drum and chanted

"i am coming for you criminal!"

 

ah yes... very practical.

Edited by silent thunder
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24 minutes ago, ilumairen said:

 

"I don't want to be provocative, but.." [I am going to anyway]

 

Have you ever considered how many phrases which come before the word "but" tend to indicate just the opposite of the explicitly stated intent? 

 

Not to be rude/dismissive (or whatever word we wish to place here), but for some reason I find this odd form of "civility" quite humorous; perhaps because it honestly seems uncivil - while placing the burdon of civility upon the hearer/reader and somehow absolving the utterer/writer of any responsibility for furthering the "civility" of discourse.. :lol:

 

It's like the grown up version of "please." Consider, if you will, a five year old's voice echoing the words, "but I said please" - because we all know it's a "magical word" which somehow makes denial an impossibility. 

 

:still laughing:

 

Yes, you were provocative, yes you wanted to be, and yes, you chose to be - which is entirely acceptable and, to me, just too funny (with the way you danced around it.)


I understand the point you are making, but at least saying "I don't want to be provocative" offers a bit of a fig leaf. And wanting to put it on, does imply that I am at least aware of the problem of civility. 

Having said that, I don't want to get into a pointless argument between myself and a lot of people who have made up their minds (like I have), simply because I just don't want to talk about the subject at all. But if I didn't raise the issue at all, it might be construed as meaning that I do believe in a lot of "woooo", which I would think of as being both cowardly, and, not serving to help people new to Daoism. Consider it a banner raised to point out to "newbies" that you can be a Daoist and be skeptical about the existence of Qi and other energetics. I know it's not a popular view, but I think it is a legitimate one. And that has bearing on the idea of seeing Daoism as a practical philosophy, because a lot of folks only see it as being with regard to other stuff---like energetics.

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7 minutes ago, Cloudwalking Owl said:


I understand the point you are making, but at least saying "I don't want to be provocative" offers a bit of a fig leaf. And wanting to put it on, does imply that I am at least aware of the problem of civility. 

 

"Truthful words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not truthful."

 

Practical application in everyday life: speak plainly and directly. :)

 

(not meant as an indictment, but more an offering to the subject of this thread)

 

7 minutes ago, Cloudwalking Owl said:


Having said that, I don't want to get into a pointless argument between myself and a lot of people who have made up their minds (like I have), simply because I just don't want to talk about the subject at all. But if I didn't raise the issue at all, it might be construed as meaning that I do believe in a lot of "woooo", which I would think of as being both cowardly, and, not serving to help people new to Daoism. Consider it a banner raised to point out to "newbies" that you can be a Daoist and be skeptical about the existence of Qi and other energetics. I know it's not a popular view, but I think it is a legitimate one. And that has bearing on the idea of seeing Daoism as a practical philosophy, because a lot of folks only see it as being with regard to other stuff---like energetics.

 

Thank you for your clarification of position and response. 

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41 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

Yes - you are right, there is hardly any discussion on Taoism as a practical philosophy of life. When I joined this forum I started a few topics on Taoism as applied to daily life. But hardly anybody seems to care about it. We will see if things have changed for the better. If so - then I will join in the discussion. If not - then I will simply continue following my own way and leave others to theirs.


At risk of annoying, I might suggest that this makes sense. Someone once told me that the essence of "Mastery" of a subject is being able to learn how to apply basic principles to novel situations. For example, a novice taijiquan player knows the moves of the set, but doesn't know how to apply them instantly in a fight. A "Master" at taijiquan is someone who is able to know instantly which move to use and how to apply it in a way that actually works. 

The general principles of Daoism are just like taijiquan moves. You have to instantly know how to apply them and how to do it "just right". In contrast, other stuff like discussing meditation, energetics, theory, etc, are much easier. It's like the difference between doing a taijiquan "forms" and doing live push-hands or sparring. And just like in all the taiji clubs I've been involved with, people who don't "get" live push hands, just come up with excuses to not even try.  

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3 minutes ago, Cloudwalking Owl said:


At risk of annoying, I might suggest that this makes sense. Someone once told me that the essence of "Mastery" of a subject is being able to learn how to apply basic principles to novel situations. For example, a novice taijiquan player knows the moves of the set, but doesn't know how to apply them instantly in a fight. A "Master" at taijiquan is someone who is able to know instantly which move to use and how to apply it in a way that actually works. 

The general principles of Daoism are just like taijiquan moves. You have to instantly know how to apply them and how to do it "just right". In contrast, other stuff like discussing meditation, energetics, theory, etc, are much easier. It's like the difference between doing a taijiquan "forms" and doing live push-hands or sparring. And just like in all the taiji clubs I've been involved with, people who don't "get" live push hands, just come up with excuses to not even try.  

 

I have a question, if you don't mind (and if you do mind, feel free to simply disregard it).

 

Wouldn't this "instantly knowing" be a bit dependent upon the energetics of whatever has arisen, and (generally) a non-intellectual ability to read and move with said energetics?

 

(a form of practical energetics?)

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2 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

@Cloudwalking Owl

 

Well I'm not at that level yet. I think I understand the basics now, but I still have a long way to go to apply them in the masterful manner you describe.

 

Just wanted to say, it's nice to see you posting wandalaar.

 

Hope you've been well.

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20 minutes ago, Cloudwalking Owl said:


I understand the point you are making, but at least saying "I don't want to be provocative" offers a bit of a fig leaf. And wanting to put it on, does imply that I am at least aware of the problem of civility. 

Having said that, I don't want to get into a pointless argument between myself and a lot of people who have made up their minds (like I have), simply because I just don't want to talk about the subject at all. But if I didn't raise the issue at all, it might be construed as meaning that I do believe in a lot of "woooo", which I would think of as being both cowardly, and, not serving to help people new to Daoism. Consider it a banner raised to point out to "newbies" that you can be a Daoist and be skeptical about the existence of Qi and other energetics. I know it's not a popular view, but I think it is a legitimate one. And that has bearing on the idea of seeing Daoism as a practical philosophy, because a lot of folks only see it as being with regard to other stuff---like energetics.

 

An alternative way of addressing the issue might be to say - 

I don't want to be provocative, but I don't find such things to support my own practice and understanding...

 

It gets the point across without invalidating the beliefs and practices of others.

What is nonsense to you may be quite supportive, interesting, or stimulating for someone else.

 

When a teaching or practice doesn't resonate with me, rather than concluding it is nonsense I try to remain open. There may be something there that I just don't connect with yet. There may come a time when it's helpful to me. Closing myself off to the possibility only limits my potential.

 

My intention is not to belabor the point but there is simply too little genuine civility and mutual support here. People tend to be quick to invalidate others' perspectives. That is never a good foundation for sharing and building community.

 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, ilumairen said:

 

I have a question, if you don't mind (and if you do mind, feel free to simply disregard it).

 

Wouldn't this "instantly knowing" be a bit dependent upon the energetics of whatever has arisen, and (generally) a non-intellectual ability to read and move with said energetics?

 

(a form of practical energetics?)


I am of the opinion that a lot of the language of energetics are metaphors or inarticulate attempts to get to something that people have an intimation about, but not haven't quite got a "handle on". I have a notion that it's important to realize that most Daoist teaching books are "evocative" more than "descriptive". 

A lot of our ordinary life has been explained since the time of the ancients, so I think it's important to try and distinguish what was a profound mystery to them but which are explained by modern science. But having said that, a lot of modern life is still mysterious---either because lay people don't have a handle on the modern knowledge, or, because no one really knows. Jumping to the conclusion that this is evidence of some mysterious energy is like the "God of the gaps" fallacy when a believer explains whatever science cannot currently explain as being evidence of God's intervention in human life. 

To answer your specific question. I instantly know how to type what I want (I touch type about 100 words per minute) without any thought. That isn't evidence of special groovy energy---it's an artifact of being taught how to type in high school and then spending most of my life writing either as a student or a journalist. But having said that, it is evidence of the Daoist principle that "Being comes from Nothing". We are programmed to see the world as being contingent---things only happen because something causes them. But that's not how we experience life----we just act! But having said that, we can change how we act by pursuing specific kung fus----like typing, like taijiquan or any other kung fu---such as cutting up oxen, swimming, shooting a bow, building a bell stand, or, any of the other examples that the Zhuangzi discusses. 

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15 minutes ago, ilumairen said:

 

Just wanted to say, it's nice to see you posting wandalaar.

 

Hope you've been well.

 

I' m OK, thank you. I have been busy elsewhere, and with other things.

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10 minutes ago, steve said:

 

An alternative way of addressing the issue might be to say - 

I don't want to be provocative, but I don't find such things to support my own practice and understanding...

 

It gets the point across without invalidating the beliefs and practices of others.

What is nonsense to you may be quite supportive, interesting, or stimulating for someone else.

 

When a teaching or practice doesn't resonate with me, rather than concluding it is nonsense I try to remain open. There may be something there that I just don't connect with yet. There may come a time when it's helpful to me. Closing myself off to the possibility only limits my potential.

 

My intention is not to belabor the point but there is simply too little genuine civility and mutual support here. People tend to be quick to invalidate others' perspectives. That is never a good foundation for sharing and building community.

 

 

 

 

Thank you for the correction!

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3 minutes ago, Cloudwalking Owl said:


To answer your specific question. I instantly know how to type what I want (I touch type about 100 words per minute) without any thought. That isn't evidence of special groovy energy---it's an artifact of being taught how to type in high school and then spending most of my life writing either as a student or a journalist. But having said that, it is evidence of the Daoist principle that "Being comes from Nothing". We are programmed to see the world as being contingent---things only happen because something causes them. But that's not how we experience life----we just act! But having said that, we can change how we act by pursuing specific kung fus----like typing, like taijiquan or any other kung fu---such as cutting up oxen, swimming, shooting a bow, building a bell stand, or, any of the other examples that the Zhuangzi discusses. 

 

This bit reminds me of what @Nungali has shared here about intuition.. tagging him in case he'd like to chime in.

 

As for the rest, I will consider, and possibly contribute more at a later time. For now, the practicality of work beckons.

 

Hope you have a good day. 

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7 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

 

I' m OK, thank you. I have been busy elsewhere, and with other things.

 

Life does come first, doesn't it? 

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@ ilumairen

 

Well - I'm still active on the internet elsewhere... But I try to stay away from heated debated and other silly business.

 

I agree with Cloudwalking Owl in that I see the current value of Taoism as consisting of it's practical philosophy of life and of some of the forms of art it inspired. I don't think it very useful to copy ancient ways of thought and practice just because they are ancient. They have to be applicable in the world we live in. It's in living my life that Taoism has to bear fruit, or it won't. (All in my opinion of course. ^_^)

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59 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

@Cloudwalking Owl

 

Well I'm not at that level yet. I think I understand the basics now, but I still have a long way to go to apply them in the masterful manner you describe.


The only time my teacher actually gave a formal talk (through horrible Cantonese to English translation) he mentioned that one of the big problems with people getting ahead in their learning because they told themselves "Oh, I couldn't do that!" or "I can't do it". I'd suggest that you probably do do things like what I'm describing already. But you might not do them very often, or, on command. 

Let me illustrate with a practical example. 

Once I was in my taijiquan club fooling around with a blunt, aluminum practice sabre. I noticed an 8.5 x 11 inch poster on the bulletin board promoting a cult, which annoyed me. I instantly stabbed it, flicked up the point, and, threw the poster into the air. Then I instantly did a move from the sabre form, which neatly sliced the paper in half, leaving both pieces to lazily fall to the floor. (I looked around the room and saw two beginner students with open jaws and bugged-out eyes. At that point the test for me was whether I would act groovy and mysterious---or be frank and honest towards them. It was an ego battle!) 

I could never do that move again if my life depended on it. It was just one of those bizarre moments when "everything clicks". I think everyone has those once in a while. But the issue isn't that anyone is groovy to have these experiences, it's that they do exist. The experience should inform the way you look at the world. As my teacher would say "You can do it! The question is whether or not you believe you can do it, and, whether you can put the time and energy into doing more often."  I'd suggest that understanding that these things happen and how common they really are is an important step in being able to do them more often.

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A very simple example: when I unlock the front door when I get home I automatically stick the key in the lock in one supple movement hardly noticing what I'm doing or looking at the key or lock, but when I consciously try the replicate the feat it becomes a clumsy and inefficient maneuver. Mastership (in my opinion) only arrives when the techniques have been deeply internalized so that the unconscious can take over.

Edited by wandelaar
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49 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

A very simple example: when I unlock the front door when I get home I automatically stick the key in the lock in one supple movement hardly noticing what I'm doing or looking at the key or lock, but when I consciously try the replicate the feat it becomes a clumsy and inefficient maneuver. Mastership (in my opinion) only arrives when the techniques have been deeply internalized so that the unconscious can take over.


Exactly!

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The theory of Tao  , without qi ,  can only be a philosophy  limited to  abstract idea  level , hardly can it be  realized and become something really practical . Qi is like a  powerful  tool  1000 times more powerful than a swiss knife that  you can bring along  wherever you go  . Taoism , right at its early period of birth , is closely linked to medicine because the body is the first place you  can test its practical effects: curing diseases, reversing aging, enhancing intelligence..etc . It is only after capable of expanding  your qi beyond the body boundary do  you find its more external usages.

Edited by exorcist_1699
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5 minutes ago, exorcist_1699 said:

Tao, without qi can not be realized and become something really practical . Qi is like a  powerful  instrument  1000 times more powerful than a swiss knife that  you can bring along with you wherever you go  . Taoism , at its early period of birth , is closely linked with medicine because the body is the first place you  can test its practical effects: curing diseases, reversing aging, enhancing intelligence..etc . It is only after you can expand your qi beyond the body boundary do  you find its more external usages.

qi doesn't increase iq

 

:huh:

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Well - that's how it goes...

 

This topic will be bend into esoteric discussions about qi, about weird states of consciousness, and about ancient lineages and practices without a scientific backing. That's what most Bums are here for. They want to escape the drudgery of daily life. They are after the miraculous. They want to acquire special superpowers, and some even want to become immortal. Chuang tse had to laugh about that kind of stuff, but to most Bums here it's what Taoism is all about.

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Theres a place for practical philosophical daoism. My interest in  is mostly that, while I keep an open mind to esoteric things based on personal experience not others opinions and concepts . It is what it is though I mean daoism is alot of things to alot of people. Zhuangzi is also my favorite.  You can entertain and appreciate the practical non esoteric truth seeking the old daoists AND be involved in all the other stuff at the same time though...

 

It's all a matter of perspective, if you can't respect that then....

 

It takes an honest and secure person to reject their self bias, naturally resyrictive thinking and to see  that BOTH can be right. Its a dynamic world. This among other  reason I was drawn to zhuangzi

It is a rare understanding useful to the world. The older I get the more I see the ramifications and develop more¬†respect for a ‚Äúkindred spirit‚ÄĚ. ¬†I might be slow,¬†I‚Äôve never ‚Äústudied‚ÄĚ so take it with a grain of salt, the ‚Äúmanifestations‚ÄĚ of these simple ideas lead to clarity (not simplicity but understandingÔľČof the complexity. I don‚Äôt know how to describe how useful and interesting it is to experience understanding fall into practical line over and over and continue to become clearer.

 

If anyone has shyed¬†away from digesting Atleast the inner chapters of zhuangzi, you‚Äôre missing out. The ideas when taken to heart, in search of truth/understanding (not to be ‚Äúright‚ÄĚ)¬†grow like a tree over the decades.¬†

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by lrn2livorlive2lrn

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To return to the intended subject of this thread I present the humble avocado, and my experience with the same. 

 

When I first encountered a whole avocado, it actually proved to be a tough little adversary. There was no simply cutting it straight through due to the pit, and by the time I had separated the tasty goodness from the inedible rind and pit I was left with mush only suitable for guacamole. With patience and practice technique arose, and over time the technique became more natural and fluid. 

 

How incredibly mundane, and incredibly useful... a culinary skill without need of contemplation which first required much contemplation on my part.

 

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