old3bob

who is this Tao quote from?

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Posted (edited)

"But consider the Tao, which transcends both finite and infinite.  Since the Tao is All and nothing lies outside it, since its multiplicity and unity are identical, when a finite being sheds the illusion of separate existence, he is not lost in the Tao like a dew-drop merging with the sea; by casting off his imaginary limitations, he becomes immeasurable.  No longer bound by the worldly categories, 'part' and 'whole', he discovers that he is coextensive with the Tao.  Plunge the finite into the infinite and, though only one remains, the finite, far from being diminished, takes on the stature of infinity."  

 

anyone know, or any comments?

Edited by old3bob

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This is just a guess, because it sounds very similar to something

Chang Chung yuan would express. 
I do recommend the book; Creativity and Taoism: A Study of Chinese Philosophy, Art, and Poetry

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16 hours ago, old3bob said:

"But consider the Tao, which transcends both finite and infinite.  Since the Tao is All and nothing lies outside it, since its multiplicity and unity are identical, when a finite being sheds the illusion of separate existence, he is not lost in the Tao like a dew-drop merging with the sea; by casting off his imaginary limitations, he becomes immeasurable.  No longer bound by the worldly categories, 'part' and 'whole', he discovers that he is coextensive with the Tao.  Plunge the finite into the infinite and, though only one remains, the finite, far from being diminished, takes on the stature of infinity."  

 

anyone know, or any comments?

It’s from a book by John Blofeld titled “The secret and the sublime”, and is attributed to the Daoist master Tseng Lao-weng.

 

 

https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Sublime-Taoist-Mysteries-Magic/dp/0525473033

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2 hours ago, dwai said:

It’s from a book by John Blofeld titled “The secret and the sublime”, and is attributed to the Daoist master Tseng Lao-weng.

 

 

Thanks for the reference Dwai.  I knew the passage Old3Bob quoted came from John Blofeld but I've previously searched and couldn’t find which book of his it’s from. It’s familiar to me because Silent Thunder has posted it on several occasions as part of discussions on various Daoist topics. It’s an insightful interview ….very much worth repeating. (The extract starts from below the picture and Old3Bob’s quotation is from the final paragraph):

 

“In East Asia generally, the notion of a Supreme Being, so essential to Western religions, is replaced by that of a Supreme State of Being, an impersonal perfection from which beings including man are separated only by delusion.”

― John Blofeld, Taoism

 

image.png.b56eaf46cae1d539f4cc8ae0424e5a96.png

 

Tseng Lao-weng:  'You’re going to such trouble to visit me is flattering.  How may I best be of service to you?'

    'You mean, why have I come, Venerable?  I have been longing to meet you ever since I heard our mutual friend describe you as an illumined sage.'

    Tseng Lao-weng sighed and answered resignedly: 'Why to people talk so?  Such words are tedious.  You will find no sages here, just this old fellow and four or five other very ordinary men who are students of the Way.  It must be disappointing for you.'

    'Do not blame Yang Tao-shih, Venerable.  He wished only to make me see for myself that Buddhists do not have a monopoly of wisdom.'

    'And does seeing an old man distinguished by nothing more than an unusually bushy beard convince you that they do not?'

    What could I say that would not sound like flattery, which he obviously disliked?  "Venerable, it is just that, as most of my teachers are Buddhist, I am ignorant about what Taoists mean by such terms as wisdom and illumination, and about their methods of approaching the Tao.'

  

 He laughed.  'How strange.  Can there be two kinds of wisdom, two kinds of illumination, Taoist and Buddhist?  Surely the experience of truth must be the same for all?  As to approaching the Tao, be sure that demons and executioners, let alone Buddhists, are as close to it as can be.  The one impossible thing is to get a finger's breadth away from it.  Do you suppose that some people -- this old fellow, for example -- are nearer to it than others?  Is a bird closer to the air than a tortoise or a cat?  The Tao is closer to you than the nose on your face; it is only because you can tweak your nose that you think otherwise.  Asking about our approach to the Tao is like asking a deep-sea fish how it approaches the water.  It is just a matter of recognizing what has been inside, outside and all around from the first.  Do you understand?'

 

    'Yes I believe I do.  Certainly my Buddhist teachers have taught me that there is no attaining liberation, but only attaining recognition of what has always been from the first.'

    'Excellent, excellent!  Your teachers, then, are true sages.  You are a worthy disciple, so why brave the bitter cold to visit an ordinary old fellow?  You would have learnt as much at your own fireside.'  (His harping so much on his being just an ordinary fellow was not due to exaggerated modesty, being a play on the words of which his title, Lao-weng, was composed.)

 

    'Venerable, please don't laugh at me!  I accept your teaching that true sages have but the one goal.  Still, here in China, there are Buddhists and there are also Taoists.  Manifestly they differ; since the goal is one, the distinction must lie in their methods of approach.'

 

    'So you are hungry not for wisdom but for knowledge!  What a pity!  Wisdom is almost as satisfying as good millet-gruel, whereas knowledge has less body to it than tepid water poured over old tea-leaves; but if that is the fare you have come for, I can give you as much as your mistreated belly will hold.  What sort of old tea-leaves do Buddhists use, I wonder!  We Taoists use all sorts.  Some swallow medicine-balls as big as pigeon's eggs or drink tonics by the jugful, live upon unappetizing diets, take baths at intervals governed by esoteric numbers, breathe in and out like asthmatic dragons, or jump about like Manchu bannermen hardening themselves for battle -- all this discomfort just for a few extra decades of life!  And why?  To gain more time to find what has never been lost!

 

    And what of those pious recluses who rattle mallets against wooden-fish drums from dusk to dawn, groaning out liturgies like cholera-patients excreting watery dung?  They are penitents longing to rid themselves of a burden they never had.  These people do everything imaginable, including swallowing pills made from the vital fluids secreted by the opposite sex and lighting fires in their bellies to make the alchemic cauldrons boil -- everything, everything except -- sit still and look within.  I shall have to talk of such follies for hours, if you really want a full list of Taoist methods.  These method-users resemble mountain streams a thousand leagues from the sea.  Ah, how they chatter and gurgle, bubble and boil, rush and eddy, plunging over precipices in spectacular fashion!  How angrily they pound against the boulders and suck down their prey in treacherous whirl-pools!  But, as the streams broaden, they grow quieter and more purposeful.  They become rivers -- ah, how calm, how silent!  How majestically they sweep towards their goal, giving no impression of swiftness and, as they near the ocean, seeming not to move at all!  While noisy mountain streams are reminiscent of people chattering about the Tao and showing-off spectacular methods, rivers remind one of experienced men, taciturn, doing little, but doing it decisively; outwardly still, yet sweeping forward faster than you know.  Your teachers have offered you wisdom; then why waste time acquiring knowledge?  Methods!  Approaches!  Need the junk-master steering towards the sea, with the sails of his vessel billowing in the wind, bother his head about alternative modes of propulsion -- oars, paddles, punt-poles, tow-ropes, engines and all the rest?  Any sort of vessel, unless it founders or pitches you overboard, is good enough to take you to the one and only sea.  Now do you understand?'

  

 Indeed I did, though not with a direct understanding firmly rooted in intuitive experience that matched his own; but I pretended to be at a loss, hoping his voice, never far from laughter, would go on and on and on; for, just as his mind when lost in the bliss of meditation had communicated a measure of its joy (on my arrival), so now it was emanating a warmth, a jollity that made me want to laugh, to sing, to dance, to shout aloud that everything is forever as it should be, provided we now and then remember to rub our eyes.

...

 

Tseng Lao-weng's talk of rivers flowing into the ocean had put me in mind of Sir Edwin Arnold's lovely expression of the mystery of Nirvana, 'the dew-drop slips into the shining sea', which I had long accepted as a poetical description of that moment when the seeming-individual, at last free from the shackles of the ego, merges with the Tao -- the Void.  This I knew to be an intensely blissful experience, but it was Tseng Lao-weng who now revealed its shining splendour in terms that made my heart leap.  Afterwards I wondered whether Sir Edwin Arnold himself had realized the full purport of his words.  At a certain moment in our conversation when Tseng Lao-weng paused expectantly, I translated the beautiful line for him and was rewarded by a smile of pleasure and surprise.  Eyes glowing, he replied:

 

    'My countrymen are wrong to speak of the Western Ocean People as barbarians.  Your poet's simile is penetrating -- exalted!  And yet it does not capture the whole; for, when a lesser body of water enters a greater, though the two are henceforth inseparable, the smaller constitutes but a fragment of the whole.  But consider the Tao, which transcends both finite and infinite.  Since the Tao is All and nothing lies outside it, since its multiplicity and unity are identical, when a finite being sheds the illusion of separate existence, he is not lost in the Tao like a dew-drop merging with the sea; by casting off his imaginary limitations, he becomes immeasurable.  No longer bound by the worldly categories, 'part' and 'whole', he discovers that he is coextensive with the Tao.  Plunge the finite into the infinite and, though only one remains, the finite, far from being diminished, takes on the stature of infinity.  Mere logicians would find fault with this, but if you perceive the hidden meaning you will laugh at their childish cavils.  Such perception will bring you face to face with the true secret cherished by all accomplished sages -- glorious, dazzling, vast, hardly conceivable!  The mind of one who Returns to the Source thereby becomes the Source.  Your own mind, for example, is destined to become the universe itself!'

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Posted (edited)

Indeed.... and to me has parallels in the sayings of the Upanishads.

Edited by old3bob
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