forestofemptiness

Is Everything Consciousness for a Taoist?

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TL/DR: Is Taoism as practiced generally realistic (i.e. saying everything is real), idealistic (everything is consciousness) or something else?

 

Background:

 

In Buddhism as I’m familiar with it, there is a tradition of Cittamatra or “Mind Only.” This can have two meanings: 1) that everything is mind, or 2) that everything we know is an expression of mind.

 

In philosophy, the first would be an ontological statement, meaning it is a statement about what things are or made of. The second is an epistemological statement, meaning that while everything arises as a transformation of consciousness, no further statement is made as to what happens outside of experience. In the second case, it isn’t relevant.

 

The drawback to the ontological position is that it leaves many things unexplained. Traleg Kyabon Rinpoche uses the example of some one who is asleep and has their head crushed by a falling rock. If no one is around, the conscious being is asleep and completely unaware, how could this happen? Some responses to this include a broad diffusion of consciousness (everything is conscious) or positing a larger consciousness (God, which was Berkeley’s solution).

 

The Buddhist scholar/practitioner Douglas Duckworth makes a strong case in my mind that the general approach is to say that everything is ontologically empty, but epistemologically consciousness. Mipham, the lion of the Nyingmas, says that relatively, Cittamatra is correct (with the exception that the mind is not truly established, which isn’t necessarily a Cittamatra position IMHO), while ultimately, everything is empty.

 

The Buddhist approach seems to demote the waking state (which we may take as real) into the dream state (which we don’t). Hans-Georg Moeller in Daoism Explained claims that the Taoists do the opposite—they regard the dream and waking state as both authentic, or real.  In this way, they would promote the dream state into the same position as the waking state. Is he right? What would the Taoist position be in your experience?

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While mind-only language has found its way into some Daoist expressions, I think overall the Daoist approach to the phenomenal world is to treat it as real, albeit in constant flux. Dream and waking are both facets of the same reality. Landscapes are not expressions of karma; animals are not ignorant, deluded incarnations (though Buddhist influence has made inroads here in some Daoist sects).

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I have learned much about my True Nature in the realms of dreaming.

Many dreams are still more piqued in memory than many events that transpired in the phenomenal.

 

Just because it is not manifest, in the substantial, does not mean it lacks reality, for me.

 

Ontological includes the phenomenal, noumenal and that which lies beyond the ken of our apparatus and mind.

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Posted (edited)

I'd say in taoism it's a moot point.  Zhuangzi wrote his butterfly dream parable to illustrate that.  The back-and-forth between the ideal "dream world" of Xiantian and the manifest world of Houtian is constant, and that's what's real. 

 

Consciousness is also a moot point, because nothing can really be unconscious.  A sleeping man's state is not unconscious even if he doesn't dream.  His organs are taking turns taking little naps, is all.  The heart is still conscious, the liver is still conscious, the kidneys are still conscious, the brain stem still regulates the breathing.  And none of it is unconscious or unaware.  None of it is a machine.  The stomach is still aware of that bag of chips you ate with the late night movie and is working on that.  The kidneys and the bladder are still aware that there's a cup of tea or a can of beer that have been presented to them to deal with alongside all that salt in the chips.  Even more aware if it was a six-pack rather than just one can.  No amount of ideas in the head or in the scriptures about the bladder being "empty like all phenomena" is going to stop it from waking you up in the middle of the night with the contradicting message that it is quite full, and in need of conscious emptying.  

Edited by Taomeow
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That makes sense. I suppose you can pick anywhere on the spectrum, and say "everything is..." You could say that matter is a gross form of consciousness, or consciousness is a subtle form of matter, or they are both just manifestations of neither consciousness nor matter. Would you say that there is no separation between, say, waking and sleeping, or mind and body?

 

1 hour ago, Taomeow said:

I'd say in taoism it's a moot point.  Zhuangzi wrote his butterfly dream parable to illustrate that.  The back-and-forth between the ideal "dream world" of Xiantian and the manifest world of Houtian is constant, and that's what's real. 

 

 

Interesting. 

 

1 hour ago, Taomeow said:

  Consciousness is also a moot point, because nothing can really be unconscious.  A sleeping man's state is not unconscious even if he doesn't dream.  His organs are taking turns taking little naps, is all.  The heart is still conscious, the liver is still conscious, the kidneys are still conscious, the brain stem still regulates the breathing.  And none of it is unconscious or unaware.  None of it is a machine.  The stomach is still aware of that bag of chips you ate with the late night movie and is working on that.  The kidneys and the bladder are still aware that there's a cup of tea or a can of beer that have been presented to them to deal with alongside all that salt in the chips.  Even more aware if it was a six-pack rather than just one can.  

 

Well I don't think most people hold to that position. A Buddhist might say that because the bladder is empty, it can be emptied. If it were not empty (of an independent, unitary, and permanent self), it would always and forever be full with no change possible. Change is experienced first hand, so it is not just an idea in the head or a belief to be accepted. 

 

1 hour ago, Taomeow said:

 No amount of ideas in the head or in the scriptures about the bladder being "empty like all phenomena" is going to stop it from waking you up in the middle of the night with the contradicting message that it is quite full, and in need of conscious emptying.  

 

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46 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

That makes sense. I suppose you can pick anywhere on the spectrum, and say "everything is..." You could say that matter is a gross form of consciousness, or consciousness is a subtle form of matter, or they are both just manifestations of neither consciousness nor matter. Would you say that there is no separation between, say, waking and sleeping, or mind and body?

 

 

No, I would say there is no separation, it's a spectrum with no absolutes.  I.e. one can be more awake than asleep, or more asleep than awake.  Things like the "placebo effect" or 'falling in love" or "being scared shitless" or "getting drunk senseless" prove that the mind and the body are not separate quite obviously, but even on less obvious levels there's no separation.  The mind and the body co-create each other.  I decided in my mind that I want my body to be stronger, so I took up martial arts, my body grew stronger -- my mind did it -- but without my body it couldn't.  It's not "all in the mind" and it's not "all in the body."  It's a co-creation.  The spirit that is embodied is not sitting in some receptacle for the spirit, it's everywhere in the body.  And the spirit that is disembodied is really embodied in some different kind of body -- perhaps the kind Native Americans called "not walking in skins."  But "walking" none the less and touching the "walking in skins" bodies -- as soil under their feet, air they breathe, rain falling on them or as those "shape but no substance" and "substance but no shape" and "no shape, no substance" subtle bodies that taoist alchemy works with.  All those "empty" phenomena are part of the deal -- but they are not "more real."  Just "different."

 

1 hour ago, forestofemptiness said:

Well I don't think most people hold to that position.

 

 

Depends on who you know. :) 

 

Indo-European traditions (whether religious, philosophical, or scientific) don't present to their autopilot followers a cornucopia of opportunities to drop their extensive and expensive cognitive arsenal and acquire the cognitive tools of a taoist mind instead.    It's a bit like...  well, until you are cognizant of the existence of the bicycle, you not only don't know how to ride it -- you don't know that there's something in existence that you don't know how to ride.  Once you get introduced to a bicycle, the first thing you discover about it is that you fall off right on the spot if you try to do any of the things with it that you already know how to do with all other things in your life.  But if you persevere, you can learn to ride it.  A little bit, and then well, and then like the wind.  :D 

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Posted (edited)

What a potent conversation... thanks all.

 

To echo the catch phrase of a dear and missed friend @rene for me it's  both, same time.  (though for me, there's a third).

 

As life unfolds, any appreciable differentiation of mind and body as separate processes or 'things' has become undesignatable for me in any satisfiable manner.  Mind and Body are varied expressional aspects of one fluid process of co-arising verbs, not examples of separate and static nouns.

 

I must add a third... Spirit and then the comingling, co-creating triumverate of mindbodyspirit arises.  Each of them all ceaselessly co-generating, co-arising and ever unfolding in the process of awareness I call 'my life'.  Within the expression of each, arises the aspects of the others and in the co-mingling, co-creation and co-arising of each other my life unfolds ceaselessly.  Remove any aspect and the process is no longer the process.

 

Like the generative and diffusing model of the five elements and five organs.  They are not separatable for me as they are systemic expressions of one overal fluid process.  None of them are separate, they are all living aspects of a system of expression.

 

Without kidneys, what function will happen in the liver?  the heart?

If the lungs fail, what happens to the rest?

 

Without spirit, or mind, or body... what occurs

 

and yet all arises in awareness.

 

For me the center is awareness.  Awareness

 

Edited by silent thunder
added a sentence for clarity
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Posted (edited)

It’s experiential, not conceptual.

 

8 hours ago, Taomeow said:

Indo-European traditions (whether religious, philosophical, or scientific) don't present to their autopilot followers a cornucopia of opportunities to drop their extensive and expensive cognitive arsenal and acquire the cognitive tools of a taoist mind instead.    It's a bit like...  well, until you are cognizant of the existence of the bicycle, you not only don't know how to ride it -- you don't know that there's something in existence that you don't know how to ride.  Once you get introduced to a bicycle, the first thing you discover about it is that you fall off right on the spot if you try to do any of the things with it that you already know how to do with all other things in your life.  But if you persevere, you can learn to ride it.  A little bit, and then well, and then like the wind.  :D 

 

Edited by forestofemptiness
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I think Taomeow hit on something important when she mentioned xiantian and houtian. These terms are sometimes translated like "pre-celestial" or "post-celestial"- some mistakenly take this in a linear, temporal way, but the terms are more akin to the Platonic distinction of the intelligible/ ideal realm versus the sensible/ physical realm, or the Buddhist distinction between ultimate and relative truth. Some have translated them with Western philosophical terms like "a priori" and "a posteriori", or "noumena" and "phenomena". The difference, I think, is that Daoists (and Confucians) do not privilege one realm over the other. That is, in philosophies like Platonism or Buddhism, the phenomenal world can be seen as a trap or a veil, obstructing perception of ultimate reality; or it can be seen as a ladder or stepping stone to that reality, if contemplated correctly. In any case, though, the point is to get beyond this phenomenal world to reach these eternal, unchanging truths- the form of the Good, emptiness, Buddha nature, etc. I think the Daoist/Confucian view, embodied very much in the I Ching, is that there is no "beyond"- the fullness of reality subsists precisely in these shifting, impermanent, imperfect phenomena, and we get to this reality by no means other than embracing and diving more fully into them; and moreover, we study the more abstract principles not to get beyond their temporal manifestations but precisely to understand and work with those temporal manifestations better.

 

I think this is the main reason Hegel was so ignorantly dismissive of Chinese philosophy, after he read some translations from Lao Zi, Analects, and I Ching- he didn't see those abstract metaphysical discussions that he considered so essential to "real" philosophy.

 

(Now experts in Buddhism or Platonism will likely take some issue with the way I have presented this, and I admit that the distinctions I am drawing are not always so neat, so please be patient with me- I think it could be fairly argued that the differences are not always significant in practice)

 

And at the risk of beating a dead horse I will note again some differences between Indian Buddhist and Chinese Daoist/Confucian aesthetics- Buddhists tend to prefer symmetry, sometimes along geometric lines, the Chinese philosophies prefer balance of disparate elements. All the Buddhas have the same appearance, the same personality, throughout time and space; Daoist immortals often remain quirky individuals. Zhuangzi's praise of gnarled trees and hunchbacks doesn't really have a place in Buddhist philosophy. Of course as Buddhism adapted to Chinese culture there was plenty of adaptation of Chinese aesthetics too, so don't take this as an absolute statement.

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18 hours ago, Taomeow said:

Indo-European traditions (whether religious, philosophical, or scientific) don't present to their autopilot followers a cornucopia of opportunities to drop their extensive and expensive cognitive arsenal and acquire the cognitive tools of a taoist mind instead.    It's a bit like...  well, until you are cognizant of the existence of the bicycle, you not only don't know how to ride it -- you don't know that there's something in existence that you don't know how to ride.  Once you get introduced to a bicycle, the first thing you discover about it is that you fall off right on the spot if you try to do any of the things with it that you already know how to do with all other things in your life.  But if you persevere, you can learn to ride it.  A little bit, and then well, and then like the wind

That is simply too "white-washy" IMHO. 

If by Indo-European traditions you mean Indic traditions such as Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, Yoga and Buddhism, I'd say that nothing could be farther from reality than your statement above :) 

 

All the real work in these traditions IS precisely around dropping of 'extensive and expensive cogitative arsenal' provided by the sensory apparatuses and the monkey mind' and learning how to use the cognitive abilities of a clarified mind. 

 

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Posted (edited)

I'll admit, when people are like Buddhism is x, and Taoism is y, their description of Buddhism sounds off but their description of Taoism sounds very Buddhist. Buddhism and Platonism are largely opposites (unless you learn Buddhism from W.Y. Evans-Wenz or some other early 20th century Western  scholar), so much so that I cannot imagine trying to learn both. Philosophically, Buddhism would be more akin to Existentialism and Phenomenology, but those branches are so distorted it would be hard to draw anything but the broadest similarities. 

 

Emptiness is not some sort of eternal Platonic God, but rather the lack of such permanent, independent, unitary thing (see my signature for the definition of emptiness). Nor is emptiness apart from phenomenon--- form is not different from emptiness, emptiness is not different from form, that which is form is emptiness, etc. per the Heart Sutra. Form and emptiness interpenetrate, and everything is constantly shifting. 

 

I think people somewhat unfairly lump Indian based religions together, but largely forget there are mutliple primary sources in India, including the Tantras. Tantric Shaivism, and Tantric Buddhism which emerged at the same time/place, do not reject phenomenon in the way you describe, quite the opposite. Phenomenon is not separate from mind, but rather is an expression of it. You don't study and believe this, you explore your own experience first hand to see if this is true through various methods including meditation, becoming familiar with waking/dreaming/deep sleep, etc. The Tantric traditions are first and foremost experiential, and not at all conceptual. Further, Tantra always works heavily with the body. For me, I prefer not to think in "-isms" but in terms of experience. Tantra plus ancient China = Chan. Zhuangzi was considered a Chan master and is cited as such. 

 

My issue with Buddhism are the bodily methods. Not to say they are wrong, but I have a resistance or an allergy to them. They tend to involve imagination, strong openings/closings, breath holdings, lots of mantras, etc. They can cause problems, and often do not always give what I call the "healthy Taoist glow." Many, many Buddhist masters have severe hip and knee problems from so much sitting. I don't think a lot of them are for householders like me. Plus, I have received so much more benefit from months of Taoist practice as I have from years of Buddhist practice in that area. 

 

 

1 hour ago, SirPalomides said:

 

(Now experts in Buddhism or Platonism will likely take some issue with the way I have presented this, and I admit that the distinctions I am drawing are not always so neat, so please be patient with me- I think it could be fairly argued that the differences are not always significant in practice)

 

Edited by forestofemptiness
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8 minutes ago, forestofemptiness said:

I think people somewhat unfairly lump Indian based religions together, but largely forget there are at least two primary sources in India: the Vedas and the Tantras. Tantric Shaivism, and Tantric Buddhism which emerged at the same time/place, do not reject phenomenon in the way you describe, quite the opposite. Phenomenon is not separate from mind, but rather is an expression of it. You don't study and believe this, you explore your own experience first hand to see if this is true through various methods including meditation, becoming familiar with waking/dreaming/deep sleep, etc. The Tantric traditions are first and foremost experiential, and not at all conceptual. Further, Tantra always works heavily with the body. For me, I prefer not to think in "-isms" but in terms of experience. Tantra plus ancient China = Chan. Zhuangzi was considered a Chan master and is cited as such. 

 

I'd say that Vedas and Tantras are not separate at all, but rather that false distinction was perpetrated by Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries :) 

This is an excellent article on the topic (https://www.vedanet.com/vedic-light-and-tantric-energy-yogas-2/)

 

Your calling out the employment of strawmen in 'comparative' discussions is very apt. Only too often I've seen people do that without even realizing that they're doing so.

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You're right. I reread it and changed it. 

 

9 minutes ago, dwai said:

I'd say that Vedas and Tantras are not separate at all, but rather that false distinction was perpetrated by Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries :) 

This is an excellent article on the topic (https://www.vedanet.com/vedic-light-and-tantric-energy-yogas-2/)

 

Your calling out the employment of strawmen in 'comparative' discussions is very apt. Only too often I've seen people do that without even realizing that they're doing so.

 

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12 minutes ago, dwai said:

That is simply too "white-washy" IMHO. 

If by Indo-European traditions you mean Indic traditions such as Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, Yoga and Buddhism, I'd say that nothing could be farther from reality than your statement above :) 

 

All the real work in these traditions IS precisely around dropping of 'extensive and expensive cogitative arsenal' provided by the sensory apparatuses and the monkey mind' and learning how to use the cognitive abilities of a clarified mind. 

 

 

By Indo-European I mean native to India and Europe, which is what Indo-European means.  It's quite a bit broader than Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, Yoga and Buddism.  It includes, among other things, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and modern science.  What they all have in common is this idea -- you call it "dropping the sensory apparatus and the monkey mind" -- of dropping one's humanity toward something "bigger-better."  Ultimate reality or paradise or nirvana or salvation or scientific objectivity (which also demands that you abandon your own sensory apparatus and your own mind in favor of someone else's which is posited as bigger-better.)  Methods and theories may seem dissimilar, but fundamentally it's all about distrust/negation/elimination of all things human. 

 

In that, taoism takes the opposite stance -- in order to be "realized" in taoism, you seek "the real human," not something "above and beyond."  "Above" and "beyond" is where you go away from "below" and from "right where/who you are."  The disconnect between the mind and the body is Indo-European.  The reconnection into one unified whole, taoist.  But I think I had this conversation with Indo-European minded folks one time too many, and in 20 years of such conversations, not once did I succeed in getting even one of my theoretical challengers to examine my POV.  Not once, Dwai.  They rush to negate, dismiss, disprove, or occasionally take offense or get really angry.  But ask me "what do you mean?  Could you give an example?  Where can I find out more?..  What could I do to better understand what you're talking about?.."  Nah.  You guys don't ride that bicycle.  :D 

 

I, on the other hand, don't ride a high horse.  I ride high and low, here and beyond, there's nothing to drop.  My sensory apparatus, my monkey mind and my clarified mind are cool with each other.  Neither one seeks to get rid of the other two.  They seek full disclosure of each to the other two and full  cooperation.  No one is the boss.  They are all the collective boss.  Together they are tao, taken apart or selectively left out/dropped/abandoned/negated they are Indo-European.  Hope you can live with that.    :) 

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Posted (edited)

I recognize that there are significant differences between Platonism and Buddhism; the only way I am comparing them is with regards to the levels of truth. While form and emptiness are inseparable, there is a distinction between the ultimate truth (emptiness of phenomena) and provisional truth. And while the provisional truth can be a stepping stone to grasping the ultimate truth, it must be transcended. When Buddhists say "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" they are talking about a perspective transcendent of, even if inclusive of, relative phenomena. Emptiness is perceived by looking through beyond the phenomena.

 

I admit I am perhaps arbitrarily setting tantric Buddhism aside for the moment, as it does complicate the question.

 

Tantra aside, Buddhism generally does not take much interest in the particulars of flora and fauna, weather patterns, etc. except as symbols and metaphors. Animals, plants, and landscapes have no inherent beauty in any Indian Buddhist texts I've seen- if someone can produce texts to the contrary I'd be glad to see them. Of course nothing has inherent anything- it's all impermanent and has no abiding self. Even worse, animals are seen as a realm of torment, condemned to ignorance and suffering until they can attain a better rebirth. Humanity itself is treasured only because it is only as a human that one can become a Buddha. Some Chinese Buddhists talk about Confucianism as a "human vehicle"- it is good for assuring a human rebirth. But ultimately we must get beyond the human birth as well. Whereas for Confucians (and I think Daoists too) we should just strive to be more and more human- humanity is the great third power between heaven and earth and its depths are inexhaustible.

 

And Daoism, while recognizing the constant flux of everything, takes much greater pleasure in these fleeting instants. Li Bai writing about drifting clouds and calling geese- not just as metaphors, but as inherently wonderful things- isn't very Buddhist. Some Chan poets wrote this way too but I would contend they did so as Chinese scholars formed in Confucian-influenced traditions, not so much as Buddhists.

 

I think there are real differences overall between the two approaches. I don't think they are irroncilable, though, and of course everything I have said is arguable. We are dealing with some subtle stuff here.

Edited by SirPalomides

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8 minutes ago, Taomeow said:

 

By Indo-European I mean native to India and Europe, which is what Indo-European means.  It's quite a bit broader than Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, Yoga and Buddism.  It includes, among other things, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and modern science.  What they all have in common is this idea -- you call it "dropping the sensory apparatus and the monkey mind" -- of dropping one's humanity toward something "bigger-better."  Ultimate reality or paradise or nirvana or salvation or scientific objectivity (which also demands that you abandon your own sensory apparatus and your own mind in favor of someone else's which is posited as bigger-better.)  Methods and theories may seem dissimilar, but fundamentally it's all about distrust/negation/elimination of all things human. 

Actually that is just an intermediate phase of the practice. :)

I could say that without knowing one's true nature, one can't truly be human. And it begs the question, "What does being human entail?"

 

That "dropping one's humanity" is actually one of the greatest misunderstanding non-practitioners react with. They put it in different words though...some will say, "escapism", some will say, "nihilism", etc etc. To understand who/what we are, we have to first find out who/what we are not, as "mother culture" is constantly whispering in our ears, telling us who/what we are -- layers upon layers of stories...

 

The second phase of the practice, which most people don't see or recognize, the world, etc are all brought back into play again. But this time, it is with playfulness and joy, as our own being. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
4
8 minutes ago, Taomeow said:

 

In that, taoism takes the opposite stance -- in order to be "realized" in taoism, you seek "the real human," not something "above and beyond."  "Above" and "beyond" is where you go away from "below" and from "right where/who you are."  The disconnect between the mind and the body is Indo-European.  The reconnection into one unified whole, taoist.  But I think I had this conversation with Indo-European minded folks one time too many, and in 20 years of such conversations, not once did I succeed in getting even one of my theoretical challengers to examine my POV.  Not once, Dwai.  They rush to negate, dismiss, disprove, or occasionally take offense or get really angry.  But ask me "what do you mean?  Could you give an example?  Where can I find out more?..  What could I do to better understand what you're talking about?.."  Nah.  You guys don't ride that bicycle.  :D 

:D  I think I get what you're pointing to. I just happen to think that it is a strawman. 

8 minutes ago, Taomeow said:

I, on the other hand, don't ride a high horse.  I ride high and low, here and beyond, there's nothing to drop.  My sensory apparatus, my monkey mind and my clarified mind are cool with each other.  Neither one seeks to get rid of the other two.  They seek full disclosure of each to the other two and full  cooperation.  No one is the boss.  They are all the collective boss.  Together they are tao, taken apart or selectively left out/dropped/abandoned/negated they are Indo-European.  Hope you can live with that.    :) 

Yes, and they rightly should be. Like I pointed out, you've not seen the complete picture when it comes to the Indic traditions. I couldn't care two hoots about the European ones though, personally...and I think "Indo-European" is as much of a strawman as any others out there. What passes off as European is really of west Asian origin anyway. If the Europeans had held on to their pagan ways, they'd be much better off, imho. 

 

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This discussion might be a good way to understand the position of the indic traditions.

Spoiler

 

 

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In the traditions I have studied, the two truths are provisionally separated, but ultimately unified. If you google two truths and union or indivisible, you will find a lot of teachings on that.

 

If you follow the logic of emptiness, it must be the case. If everything is empty, how do you separate this and that? There is no basis upon which a line, boundary, or separation may be erected. The flip side of emptiness (as per Nagarjuna) is interdependence, a.k.a. dependent origination. Because everything is empty, everything is connected and interrelated. The point is not to eliminate phenomenon, but to cease from clinging and grasping onto phenomenon. Freedom from, not elimination.

 

You can apply this experientially. Look to see if there are any boundaries, lines, or separations in the field of experience. Sometimes I may think or feel there is a boundary, but closer inspection shows it is an illusion. Usually, what is perceived as a border is actually a point of contact--- not a separation, but a coming together. This usually requires setting aside what I expect to see, and actually look.

 

Indian Buddhist texts may not appreciate nature, but Zen Buddhists of all stripes (including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese) do. When teachers teach this stuff, they are usually very concrete. There is actually a Shaiva Tantra technique where you use taste and aesthetic appreciation as a way to "trace back the radiance" so to speak.

 

 

5 hours ago, SirPalomides said:

I recognize that there are significant differences between Platonism and Buddhism; the only way I am comparing them is with regards to the levels of truth. While form and emptiness are inseparable, there is a distinction between the ultimate truth (emptiness of phenomena) and provisional truth. And while the provisional truth can be a stepping stone to grasping the ultimate truth, it must be transcended. When Buddhists say "form is emptiness, emptiness is form" they are talking about a perspective transcendent of, even if inclusive of, relative phenomena. Emptiness is perceived by looking through beyond the phenomena.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Taomeow said:

 

By Indo-European I mean native to India and Europe, which is what Indo-European means.  It's quite a bit broader than Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism, Yoga and Buddism.  It includes, among other things, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and modern science.  What they all have in common is this idea -- you call it "dropping the sensory apparatus and the monkey mind" -- of dropping one's humanity toward something "bigger-better."  Ultimate reality or paradise or nirvana or salvation or scientific objectivity (which also demands that you abandon your own sensory apparatus and your own mind in favor of someone else's which is posited as bigger-better.)  Methods and theories may seem dissimilar, but fundamentally it's all about distrust/negation/elimination of all things human. 

 

In that, taoism takes the opposite stance -- in order to be "realized" in taoism, you seek "the real human," not something "above and beyond."  "Above" and "beyond" is where you go away from "below" and from "right where/who you are."  The disconnect between the mind and the body is Indo-European.  The reconnection into one unified whole, taoist.  But I think I had this conversation with Indo-European minded folks one time too many, and in 20 years of such conversations, not once did I succeed in getting even one of my theoretical challengers to examine my POV.  Not once, Dwai.  They rush to negate, dismiss, disprove, or occasionally take offense or get really angry.  But ask me "what do you mean?  Could you give an example?  Where can I find out more?..  What could I do to better understand what you're talking about?.."  Nah.  You guys don't ride that bicycle.  :D 

 

 

What I’ve come to after many decades of working at it is that IME there is a part of me that is split off, I’m happy to call it my ‘spirit’ for now, and I want to bring that part back down into me. It seems to me that the Indian gurus and the Buddhists want to project their consciousness out into that split off ‘spirit’ part, and they meditate to effect that. I like the Neiye’s approach - “If one empties one's desires, the spirit will enter and dwell.“ I don’t know if my perspective is Taoist though.

 

6 hours ago, Taomeow said:

 

I, on the other hand, don't ride a high horse.  I ride high and low, here and beyond, there's nothing to drop.  My sensory apparatus, my monkey mind and my clarified mind are cool with each other.  Neither one seeks to get rid of the other two.  They seek full disclosure of each to the other two and full  cooperation.  No one is the boss.  They are all the collective boss.  Together they are tao, taken apart or selectively left out/dropped/abandoned/negated they are Indo-European.  Hope you can live with that.    :) 

 

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31 minutes ago, Bindi said:

 

What I’ve come to after many decades of working at it is that IME there is a part of me that is split off, I’m happy to call it my ‘spirit’ for now, and I want to bring that part back down into me. 

 

 

This is pretty close to what lingbao bifa of the Longmen pai tradition works on.  The initial/preliminary stage and, at the same time, one of the prerequisites for unifying your spirit is gathering back your dissipated ling, the part of your spirit that constitutes a special kind of intelligence, one might call it "supernatural intelligence."  It starts dissipating, in a modern human, from early childhood, and in its "out-there," dispersed, lost from the bodymind form is neither available nor useful to the person who leaked it out into the universe.  So we start out by gathering it and guiding it back in and down.  And learning to control it, concentrate and move it at will, with intent, with all kinds of supernatural tasks for it to perform. :) 

 

Interestingly enough, when I was first instructed in how to do it -- you are supposed to "see" it with your celestial eye -- I recognized it.  I used to see it as a child every night when I closed my eyes, right before going to sleep.  I saw something like an infinite swarm of tiny golden bees flying in formation, in wave-like patterns, very slowly and calmly, and I could give this motion a direction at will.  Seeing them was always very mysterious and oddly reassuring, it always made me feel good and quieted down all troubles of the day (which, in my childhood, were often many.)  As an adult I lost touch with them -- and with this practice, started seeing them again.  Only now they weren't as close or as bright or as many.  I was learning to gather them together and bring them back, guide them toward "back home."  Recognizing them (whatever they are, those specks of innate "supernatural intelligence" of the heart-mind) was the spiritual counterpart of...  I don't know what compares... being a kid and finding your long-lost kitten? :D

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