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@dwai, thank you for your thoughtful response - which I will happily return to at a later time. For now I have used more words than I used to use in a months time, and would like to return to my silence for a bit - just wanted to present a bit of appreciation and acknowledgement first.
 

warm regards 

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16 hours ago, ilumairen said:

I am unsure if, and in what context, this actually would be a necessary stepping stone as opposed to say a stepping stone whose necessity is facilitated by the manner in which we (humans in general) tend to structure our familial and societal dynamics, and the passing down of “distorted views” by individuals who themselves were handed “distorted views” - generation after generation until their “necessity” becomes something which is generally beyond question, taken for granted, and/or met with fear.

 

I think this is relevant again:

On 09/06/2020 at 6:43 PM, freeform said:

 

0:  Dao

 

1:  True De

2:  Contrived De (like kindness, and the ethical framework)

3:  Justice (the need for law, policing etc)

4:  Rituals (superstitions, taboos etc)

 

Distorted views passed down through generations is no.4 in the list... Rituals. These are superstitions and taboos - kept not because of a rational construct (like Justice) - but because 'that's just how it's always been'. "I recognise that this person is not from my cultural background so I will immediately distrust her and feel a sort of impulsive disgust - just as everyone else in my tribe."

 

Contrived De - despite the negative sounding 'contrived' is a wonderful and rare thing. It's the act of consciously aligning our behaviour to an ideal. Like - I'm going to be kind and generous - even when that is the hard thing to do - even if our cultural taboos say you shouldn't be kind to those types of people - even if legaly I don't need to be kind to that person. It's not done to 'look kind' - it's done to be kind - because that's the responsibility you've taken upon yourself.

 

In the West, this is epitomised by the idea of 'Chivalry'. Or in the East - 'Bushido' and the principle of Honour for the Samurai.

 

Despite this sort of integrity being a rare and wonderful thing - it's still contrived virtue - and it still creates distortions and adds to the layers of Acquired Mind. It's very much imperfect. It's still in the realm of 'action' (Wei) - and therefore 'skill' (Gong) - someone could be very skillful in their virtue - someone else could be very unskillful in his attempt to uphold virtue (ie. 'robbing Peter to pay Paul').

 

True De - that's the 'natural' virtue within all of us (the essence of the guru or deity as you described), buried under the distortions of Acquired Mind.

 

But it's almost extinct in the world.

 

It's like a light that casts no shadows. It's very much like saintly behaviour - and it's qualitatively different to contrived virtue because it's not something that has to be done - it just is. And so it works on a different level of cause and effect - where for instance a slight smile from one with True De might set off a cascade of cause and effect that produces a far greater 'good' in the world than billions of dollars of charity could.

 

Being in the presence of someone who has achieved full De is quite magical. We all know the concept of synchronicities - being in the presence of De sets off a constant stream of synchronicities for people. Where every little nuance - how the grass sways in the wind, the words or actions of this sage - everything, somehow cuts to the core and points to some deeper fundamental aspect of your true nature.

 

When I say that 'Contrived De' is necessary, I'm talking about my (and my teachers') view on this. In actual fact it's not technically a necessary stepping stone on the way to achieving Dao - in fact you can completely bypass even True De and reach straight for Dao - it's a more direct, and in effect, 'easier' path (except that it's anything but easy!)

Edited by freeform
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4 hours ago, freeform said:

 

I think this is relevant again:

 

Distorted views passed down through generations is no.4 in the list... Rituals. These are superstitions and taboos - kept not because of a rational construct (like Justice) - but because 'that's just how it's always been'. "I recognise that this person is not from my cultural background so I will immediately distrust her and feel a sort of impulsive disgust - just as everyone else in my tribe."


 

 

I believe “inherited distorted views” would reach beyond rituals (including ideas such as justice - which has certainly shifted through history and by location), and acknowledge some of these inherited views may serve “valid and useful function.” 
 

Heck, even what is/has been found to be rational has shifted...

 

Quote

Contrived De - despite the negative sounding 'contrived' is a wonderful and rare thing. It's the act of consciously aligning our behaviour to an ideal. Like - I'm going to be kind and generous - even when that is the hard thing to do - even if our cultural taboos say you shouldn't be kind to those types of people - even if legaly I don't need to be kind to that person. It's not done to 'look kind' - it's done to be kind - because that's the responsibility you've taken upon yourself.

 

While I respect this conscious alignment, and could paint a correlation between this and guru yoga, yidam practices, and aspects of ngondro, I am going to try to remain more on topic considering this is the Daoist sub forum.

 

From the same chapter: 

 

A truly good man is not aware of his goodness,
And is therefore good.
A foolish man tries to be good,
And is therefore not good.

A truly good man does nothing,
Yet nothing is left undone.
A foolish man is always doing,
Yet much remains to be done

 

What would be your (or your teachers) understanding of this, and how would it relate to what you have already shared?

 

 

Quote

Despite this sort of integrity being a rare and wonderful thing - it's still contrived virtue - and it still creates distortions and adds to the layers of Acquired Mind. It's very much imperfect. It's still in the realm of 'action' (Wei) - and therefore 'skill' (Gong) - someone could be very skillful in their virtue - someone else could be very unskillful in his attempt to uphold virtue (ie. 'robbing Peter to pay Paul').

 

True De - that's the 'natural' virtue within all of us (the essence of the guru or deity as you described), buried under the distortions of Acquired Mind.


 

 

:understanding this, in part, may be answer to my above question:

 

Quote

But it's almost extinct in the world.

 

It's like a light that casts no shadows. It's very much like saintly behaviour - and it's qualitatively different to contrived virtue because it's not something that has to be done - it just is. And so it works on a different level of cause and effect - where for instance a slight smile from one with True De might set off a cascade of cause and effect that produces a far greater 'good' in the world than billions of dollars of charity could.

 

Being in the presence of someone who has achieved full De is quite magical. We all know the concept of synchronicities - being in the presence of De sets off a constant stream of synchronicities for people. Where every little nuance - how the grass sways in the wind, the words or actions of this sage - everything, somehow cuts to the core and points to some deeper fundamental aspect of your true nature.

 

When I say that 'Contrived De' is necessary, I'm talking about my (and my teachers') view on this. In actual fact it's not technically a necessary stepping stone on the way to achieving Dao - in fact you can completely bypass even True De and reach straight for Dao - it's a more direct, and in effect, 'easier' path (except that it's anything but easy!)

 

I guess at this point, I am looking to how (and curious why) Dao and de are/were lost, and you are looking more towards the consequence and response of and to this loss.

 

BTW I often see you as such a radiant light.. I mean, you certainly don’t have to be here, this isn’t something which has to be done, and here you are - sharing and shining.

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On 11/06/2020 at 5:53 PM, ilumairen said:

BTW I often see you as such a radiant light.. I mean, you certainly don’t have to be here, this isn’t something which has to be done, and here you are - sharing and shining.

 

Thank you - that's nice of you to say. I'm here because many years ago I was inspired by what I read on the forum - and that's what put me on my path. I'm very grateful for that - and I'd like to help by paying it forward :)

 

On 11/06/2020 at 5:53 PM, ilumairen said:

I guess at this point, I am looking to how (and curious why) Dao and de are/were lost, and you are looking more towards the consequence and response of and to this loss.

 

Yes. And although it's lost - just as in that 'broken telephone' (aka chinese whispers) game - there's always a hint of the original message - in the same way, Dao is in everything - even in the distortions.
 

On 11/06/2020 at 5:53 PM, ilumairen said:

A truly good man is not aware of his goodness,
And is therefore good.
A foolish man tries to be good,
And is therefore not good.

A truly good man does nothing,
Yet nothing is left undone.
A foolish man is always doing,
Yet much remains to be done

 

I prefer my (slightly vulgar) translation - as I think it gives a different perspective:

 

True De is unconscious, that's why it's the highest De.

Inferior De is contrived, and that's why it's without De.

Inferior De creates distortions because it's a contrivance.

 

True morality is leaving nothing undone

Morality based on justice leaves plenty udone

Morality based on order is left unanswered by the people - and so it's time to roll up ones sleeves.

 

I find it almost impossible to discuss the DDJ because it's so multi-leveled. Although it appears to be talking about 'external things' like 'justice' and 'people' - but in reality, it's also talking about your inner experience.

 

As a clue - 'people' is symbolic. 'Man' exists between 'Heaven' and 'Earth'... The 'people' are aspects of 'Man'... Microcosmically 'Man' between heaven and earth is Xin - your heart-mind in between your upper DT and Lower DT. So 'the people' are unconsolidated aspects of your heart-mind - thoughts, preferences, beliefs, biases. There is a lot of such nuance in DDJ - and the earlier chapters need to be understood in this way for this to be crystal clear.

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7 hours ago, freeform said:

True De is unconscious, that's why it's the highest De.

Inferior De is contrived, and that's why it's without De.

Inferior De creates distortions because it's a contrivance.

 

True morality is leaving nothing undone

Morality based on justice leaves plenty udone

Morality based on order is left unanswered by the people - and so it's time to roll up ones sleeves.


 

 

Would you happen to know if different characters were used in the second line, translated as “inferior de is contrived, and that’s why it is without de”?

 

Because in this moment, my mind is seeing it as something like the pretense of virtue is without virtue. 
 

7 hours ago, freeform said:

I find it almost impossible to discuss the DDJ because it's so multi-leveled. Although it appears to be talking about 'external things' like 'justice' and 'people' - but in reality, it's also talking about your inner experience.

 

I rather like this aspect of it.

 

7 hours ago, freeform said:

 

As a clue - 'people' is symbolic. 'Man' exists between 'Heaven' and 'Earth'... The 'people' are aspects of 'Man'... Microcosmically 'Man' between heaven and earth is Xin - your heart-mind in between your upper DT and Lower DT. So 'the people' are unconsolidated aspects of your heart-mind - thoughts, preferences, beliefs, biases. There is a lot of such nuance in DDJ - and the earlier chapters need to be understood in this way for this to be crystal clear.


And when there is “war in the land” de is left to become a contrivance, but with “harmony” it may be uncovered/rediscovered/found?

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16 hours ago, Bhathen said:

How does one recognize True De? Why does the perception differ?


Good question. Not sure I have the answer. But I have an answer - that might be an interesting way to consider the topic.

 

A Shengren (Sage) will not act in an obvious stimulus-response causation loop.

 

By stimulus response I mean the automatic mental movements and habits we have that are habitual and often unconscious.

 

Someone cuts you off in traffic (stimulus) - we get angry (response). It happens automatically. It’s an automatic knee jerk reaction. It’s usually predictable.

 

In a Sage the predictable stimulus-response patterns will not be present. You might say something incredibly offensive and the response you get is genuine curiosity (instead of anger). You might offer him great riches but his response might be laughter. You might be super humble and polite - but she responds in a coarse and vulgar way.

 

the breaking down of the automaticity of stimulus-response is one clue of being in the presence of a Shengren... Although it might also suggest madness ^_^

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16 hours ago, ilumairen said:

Would you happen to know if different characters were used in the second line, translated as “inferior de is contrived, and that’s why it is without de”?

 

Because in this moment, my mind is seeing it as something like the pretense of virtue is without virtue. 


I’m afraid my notes on this are inaccessible (coz of lockdown). I’m also an awful scholar and linguist and there are many bums that could suggest a better, more accurate translation.

 

16 hours ago, ilumairen said:

 

I rather like this aspect of it.


Me too :) 

 

16 hours ago, ilumairen said:

And when there is “war in the land” de is left to become a contrivance, but with “harmony” it may be uncovered/rediscovered/found?


Yes. War in the land suggests that ‘the people’ are in opposition to one another. Some people want to sit and absorb into the breath - others want to think about lunch - others prefer to reminisce about past embarrassments - others still are worried about money.

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52 minutes ago, Bhathen said:

 

Why does it become difficult to shed the layers of the Acquired Mind completely ?

 

Even after experiences like awakening or similar, the personal traits or the Acquired mind still seems to remain;

What part might ego have to play?

 

There are several parts to it.

 

For one, fully shedding of the acquired mind is a strange thing to do! :) 
 

I mean it makes  life in society almost impossible. It’s just practically very difficult. The ones that do manage it, generally live (or at least go for multi year retreats) in a very controlled environment - usually in isolation. 
 

In terms of why is actual transformation so difficult (even the much earlier transformations than full shedding of the acquired mind) - there are many reasons - but one of the big ones is: not enough Qi.
 

Qi is the catalyst of change - and the majority of cultivators simply don’t generate enough Qi for awakening experiences to be  actually transformational (rather than just profound experiences).

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1 hour ago, Bhathen said:

 

Society, both breaks and mends people. It also can serve as a testing ground for the change occurred in isolation

 


Yes totally. It’s easy to develop peace and serenity isolated from the stressors and stimuli of other people... but if that peace is easily shattered by someone cutting you off in traffic - then it’s a temporary experience - not a transformation.

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On 09/06/2020 at 12:15 PM, freeform said:

I, for one, thought it was an interesting discussion.

 

But just any discussion that really matters - it raises strong responses and difficult questions.

 

I don't think there are easy answers here.

 

Coming from a largely Quanzhen-based background - which absorbed aspects of Buddhism and Confucianism, I've been instructed in ethics and ethical behaviour.

 

Now whether this is a flavour of the Quanzhen line or just my teachers' particular approach - I don't really know. But ethics from my teachers' perspective is not to do with good and bad - it's far more 'mechanistic' and pragmatic than that. It follows the law of cause and effect...

 

Act a certain way for long enough and it will create a certain quality in your body/mind/nature.

 

We follow specific ethical constraints not because they're 'good' - but because they create the correct conditions for growth in a certain direction.

 

We don't pull out weeds because weeds are bad... we pull them out to allow the slightly weaker, but more bountiful and beneficial (for our aims) plants to grow.

 

It's a very pragmatic and utilitarian use of the Acquired Mind.

 

Because of certain misinterpretations of the classics, many people think of Daoism as a 'natural' approach. The natural approach would surely let the weeds grow, because if nature decided that this is the best thing to grow in that space and in that time - then that is 'objectively good'.

 

But Daoism anything but natural.

 

The natural course of things is to grow old and die. To create an ever more rigid Acquired Self. To develop an ever more frail body and dull mind.

 

I have had a teacher who was very much anti morals and anti ethics... The idea was that any constraint on natural expression can only ever be 'bad'... and good can only ever come from the De - the virtue that originates from the 'pre-acquired mind'... But then again many of his students got into drugs, alcohol, fights etc - until they stopped practice altogether.

 

As I see it - we all have an Acquired Mind - it has its own wants desires, values, and beliefs - these are born in reaction to various causes in life.

 

This is the problematic sort of morality.

 

The ideal situation for a cultivator is to work through layers and layers of the acquired mind until it falls away and True Virtue arises. True Virtue isn't born of 'a reaction to'. It's pure, spontaneous action that's completely untarnished by our Acquired Mind and comes directly from the source of who we are - our Original Spirit.

 

Acquired -> True Virtue

 

The Quanzhen approach agrees with this - but sees it as too great a leap. It's almost impossible. It means that a cultivator is completely free to do as they (or their base nature) want - and act on any whim and desire of the Acquired Mind. Until one day, they transform into a true Saint.

 

This may be achievable for some.

 

It may be possible in certain environments - where the 'purity' of one's day to day life naturally shapes their Acquired Mind in a conducive direction.

 

But for the majority of us there needs to be an extra step:

 

Acquired -> Cultivated -> True Virtue

 

This Cultivation step is where we take on the precepts and ethical guidance of the system or tradition we're following. This is the original 'self' development... where you develop the acquired self in a certain direction. This is where we shape our self towards virtuous characteristics - like patience, bravery, integrity, kindness, humility... But this is not the end - these are just training wheels until True Virtue spontaneously arises - and then all machinations can be dropped.

 

If you live in a pristine environment then maybe you don't need self-development, ethics, and instruction on correct conduct... But if you live in our society - where we (advertisers, politicians etc) learned to expertly pull at the stimulus-response strings that control and condition our behaviours... Then I believe we do need some ethical and moral guidance.

 

I wrote the Noble Eightfold Path on my whiteboard the other week. This is helping me fill in some blanks right now.

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Posted (edited)
On 09/06/2020 at 4:28 PM, freeform said:

 

As I understand it, we're coming at it from two directions.

 

Beneath our emotional reactivity lies pure spontaneous virtue - so we work to chip away at the impurities until this virtue comes through.

 

But this is a lifelong task - and extremely difficult. The majority of people attempting this task will simply not manage it (how many truly 'saintly' people do we know!)

 

So we create ethical frameworks - they're not perfect, but it's like arranging the stones in the river in such a way that it flows smoothly and doesn't cause erosion and flooding or create issues for fish and other aquatic creatures.

 

And yes, I am tired of relapses and the high expectation of being able to train consistently enough. Although I totally feel the benefit of majority Daoist training for a decade, adding some "dos and don'ts" actually helps along the way when trying to live in society.

Edited by Rara
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On 10/06/2020 at 8:36 PM, dwai said:
Quote

 

Good question. But when I say "ethical/moral rules" I mean things like "don't steal, don't lie, don't covet others' possessions", "stay centered", "Don't give in to extreme emotional outbursts" etc etc. These are called "yama" and "niyama" in the Yogic tradition. Similar directives are available to us via Sages who have had realization and found that to not follow those rules results in scattering of the mind, pollution of the mind. To follow those rules allows for a person's mind to become settled, and clean. 

 

Consider this --  If you asked someone to constantly watch extremely gory, violent stuff on the internet, what will their mind be like after a few days of watching that stuff? 

 

Quote
 

 

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@dwai I am trying so hard to quote and write on my phone but it has proven impossible.

 

I really like that post. Yes, the mind is made up of only what we are exposed to. It's been interesting of late, no allowing myself exposure to various things. It really does change day to day living!

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55 minutes ago, Rara said:

adding some "dos and don't's" actually helps along the way when trying to live in society.


Especially when internal power starts to increase!
 

When inner power and vitality start going to ‘supernormal’ levels - any hidden, darker aspects within us gain definition and start to attempt to drive our behaviour.

 

I believe we need to have a lot of strength, integrity and careful introspection to see when and if this starts affect our drives and motivations.

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2 hours ago, Bhathen said:

Society, both breaks and mends people. It also can serve as a testing ground for the change occurred in isolation.

 

Retreats when not serving as an escapism from reality, serves its purpose.

 

 

That testing ground, 100%. I never even realised until I was in it. You never know what will change you until it has done so.

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15 minutes ago, freeform said:


Especially when internal power starts to increase!
 

When inner power and vitality start going to ‘supernormal’ levels - any hidden, darker aspects within us gain definition and start to attempt to drive our behaviour.

 

I believe we need to have a lot of strength, integrity and careful introspection to see when and if this starts affect our drives and motivations.

 

"With great power comes great responsibility"....and all that jazz.

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On 4/6/2020 at 5:50 AM, Rara said:

One of my teachers told me that with a calm mind, I will know myself what the right thing to do in any situation is.


 

 

As this may fall into side tangent, and be considered overly scholarly by some, I put the article in my ppd, although, towards the end it does address the situational aspect your teacher pointed you towards.
 

Whether you find it of interest or useful for your own consideration and rumination Is for you to decide.

 

 

P.S. Thanks for starting this interesting thread.

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56 minutes ago, Rara said:

@dwai I am trying so hard to quote and write on my phone but it has proven impossible.

 

I really like that post. Yes, the mind is made up of only what we are exposed to. It's been interesting of late, no allowing myself exposure to various things. It really does change day to day living!

Therein lies the secret of spiritual life imho.
 

Keep the mind clean and settled and we can see the “truth” directly and without filters. Let the mind get polluted and it will filter the truth and present a distortion.

 

Allow the mind to get scattered and it will not be able to pierce through the world of names and forms and see the true essence underlying all its experiences. 

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Would it be fair to say that you side against Hui Neng in the poem combat?

 

Shen Xiu:

 

Our body is the Bodhi-tree
And our mind a mirror bright.
Carefully we clean them hour by hour
And let no dust alight.

 

Hui Neng:

There is no Bodhi-tree
Nor stand of a mirror bright.
Since everything is emptiness
Where can dust alight?

 

On 6/14/2020 at 4:13 PM, dwai said:

Therein lies the secret of spiritual life imho.
 

Keep the mind clean and settled and we can see the “truth” directly and without filters. Let the mind get polluted and it will filter the truth and present a distortion.

 

Allow the mind to get scattered and it will not be able to pierce through the world of names and forms and see the true essence underlying all its experiences. 

 

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Posted (edited)
48 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

Would it be fair to say that you side against Hui Neng in the poem combat?

 

Shen Xiu:

 

Our body is the Bodhi-tree
And our mind a mirror bright.
Carefully we clean them hour by hour
And let no dust alight.

 

Hui Neng:

There is no Bodhi-tree
Nor stand of a mirror bright.
Since everything is emptiness
Where can dust alight?

 

 

I side with both. Each is meant from a different vantage point. Shen Xiu from the body-mind perspective, Hui Neng from the Self's (Or Buddha-nature if Self sounds jarring to the non-selfists) perspective. The funny thing is, it is not an either-or proposition either. Both are valid. We must decide and choose which is the need for us. :) 

Edited by dwai

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That is the question

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8 hours ago, daojones said:

Whats morality?

 

The common use, acting accordingly so that no direct harm is caused to sentient beings and the environment.

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2 minutes ago, Rara said:

 

The common use, acting accordingly so that no direct harm is caused to sentient beings and the environment.

 

This feels correct, do you have more info Rara?

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5 minutes ago, mark said:

 

This feels correct, do you have more info Rara?

 

Oh, this is just me going on my understanding. I believe the actual definition is a code of conduct and differentiating between good and bad.

 

My purpose behind this thread is to make sense of how it is not a thing to concern yourself with in Daoism, while still achieving high virtue.

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