Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
form
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by form » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:34 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
form wrote:... And only the front chapters work. Those chapters at the back I suspect were added in later.
The Introduction to my edition says you're right. :smile:
It views the text as an anthology of mostly self-contained chapters, most of which (in turn) are made up of a wisdom saying and a commentary on it.
It makes connections to the very old shamanic traditions of divination/oracles and the ruler/sage/shaman who stands between the spirit world and the physical world ... all very interesting and quite plausible.

At the larger scale, it says, the collection originally ended with chapter 70 and the last dozen chapters are a centuries-later addition which add little to the value of the older text and sometimes contradict it.

:reading:
Kim
I often wonder about this after i meditate and reflect on it after a while. For a very high level person, think he should not wonder about how to rule a country. But a country in the Taoist alchemy context could mean consciousness as well. It is about conquering oneself.

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Coëmgenu
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Coëmgenu » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:22 am

Garrib wrote:is the " heaven" there "ch'ien"? I am not well versed in ancient Chinese anything, but from what I know of the i ching, the "ch'ien" is the creative principle; its trigram is made of three solid yang lines. Wouldn't it normally then be conceived of as more masculine than feminine? I know the yin/yang duality is not absolute and does not always correspond to masculine/feminine...sorry for my ignorance, I'm out of my element here.
You can draw an almost direct character-for-word correspondence between the Chinese and English in the section you are commenting on:

無名天地之始;
Without name heaven [and] earth's origination

有名萬物之母。
Having name 10,000 things' mother

The 之 here forms possessives.

I won't pretend to be an expert on Daoism, but looking at the language, it looks like we are being presented with emanating binary pairs from a single 道 when it is not under the condition of being "named". We have 天 (heaven, the tiān/ch'ien you spoke of) and 地 (earth) when 道 (the Dao) is 無 (without) 名 (name).

Having (有) a name (名) it is 10,000 things' (萬物) (or 10,000 species' using species in the sense of "types" or "archetypes" in addition to "things", think species counterpoint, similar to Buddhist dhātu, "element") mother (母).

10, 000 (萬) here means "all", it is a "large number" standing in for "all X".

In addition to this, the compound 天地 (heaven [and] earth), in its way, can stand for "all things" as well. Just in a "different way".

Is 地 (earth) female in I Ching? That would make the complementary binary pair "balanced" in yin-yang cosmology, maybe?

It is also possible that the Dàodéjīng and I Ching contradict eachother :stirthepot: :sage: :anjali:
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Sat Sep 16, 2017 12:04 am, edited 3 times in total.
神足示現者,
世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Garrib » Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:35 am

Thanks for that!

In the I Ching the passive/feminine principal is "K'un", represented by three yin lines; it also has the symbolic meaning of "earth" - I always thought there was a connection between the Tao Te Ching and the I Ching, but yes, there might be meaningful differences in how they interpret yin and yang.

form
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by form » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:47 am

I won't pretend to be an expert on Daoism
An expert is not an expert. A not expert is an expert. :mrgreen:

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Kim OHara
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Kim OHara » Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:22 am

form wrote:
Kim OHara wrote:
form wrote:... And only the front chapters work. Those chapters at the back I suspect were added in later.
The Introduction to my edition says you're right. :smile:
It views the text as an anthology of mostly self-contained chapters, most of which (in turn) are made up of a wisdom saying and a commentary on it.
It makes connections to the very old shamanic traditions of divination/oracles and the ruler/sage/shaman who stands between the spirit world and the physical world ... all very interesting and quite plausible.

At the larger scale, it says, the collection originally ended with chapter 70 and the last dozen chapters are a centuries-later addition which add little to the value of the older text and sometimes contradict it.

:reading:
Kim
I often wonder about this after i meditate and reflect on it after a while. For a very high level person, think he should not wonder about how to rule a country. But a country in the Taoist alchemy context could mean consciousness as well. It is about conquering oneself.
Your idea that 'a country could mean consciousness,' so that 'ruling' is about 'conquering oneself' is ingenious but doesn't makes sense in the original - very early - context of the I Ching and Tao Te Ching.
Think 500 to 1000 BC, think tribal groups beginning to form settled communities, city-states at most, and a gradual transition from the shaman advising the chief to the priest advising, or speaking for, the local lord. The literal meaning makes perfect sense and would have been important to people developing new ways of governing for the benefit of the whole community.
And alchemy came centuries later.

:namaste:
Kim

form
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by form » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:15 am

Kim OHara wrote:
form wrote:... And only the front chapters work. Those chapters at the back I suspect were added in later.
The Introduction to my edition says you're right. :smile:
It views the text as an anthology of mostly self-contained chapters, most of which (in turn) are made up of a wisdom saying and a commentary on it.
It makes connections to the very old shamanic traditions of divination/oracles and the ruler/sage/shaman who stands between the spirit world and the physical world ... all very interesting and quite plausible.

At the larger scale, it says, the collection originally ended with chapter 70 and the last dozen chapters are a centuries-later addition which add little to the value of the older text and sometimes contradict it.

:reading:
Kim
Your idea that 'a country could mean consciousness,' so that 'ruling' is about 'conquering oneself' is ingenious but doesn't makes sense in the original - very early - context of the I Ching and Tao Te Ching.
Think 500 to 1000 BC, think tribal groups beginning to form settled communities, city-states at most, and a gradual transition from the shaman advising the chief to the priest advising, or speaking for, the local lord. The literal meaning makes perfect sense and would have been important to people developing new ways of governing for the benefit of the whole community.
And alchemy came centuries later.

:namaste:
Kim[/quote]

Yes. I get that idea from certain alchemy interpretation.

I do not think of tao de jing has anything to do with Shamanism directly. It seems more of a book of returning to nature as I do not think the later half roughly came from the same author. If according to legend, the old wise man sitting on a black ox, is moving west to seclusion, quite unlikely he will write that much. And why would he still care about best way to rule a country. The part on no weapons, and let nature take its course certainly do not work at least in a modern world.

I know nothing about iching, I assume it came from trying to predict things from fixed pattern. Iching based on my limited knowledge is more of a confucius school speciality. I also think it started from trying to predict weather for successful agriculture.

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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Kim OHara » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:14 am

form wrote:... I know nothing about iching, I assume it came from trying to predict things from fixed pattern. Iching based on my limited knowledge is more of a confucius school speciality. I also think it started from trying to predict weather for successful agriculture.
It's worth finding and reading, then, if you want to understand the Tao Te Ching. The Wilhelm translation was the standard one for years but the Blofeld one - http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books ... 140193350/ - is more approachable.

Both texts emerged from ancient (even by Chinese standards!) oral traditions, both were shaped by Taoism and Confucianism as these traditions evolved, both call on similar ways of understanding nature and society.
The I Ching was a book of divination which accumulated some fairly deep philosophical commentary. The Tao Te Ching was a book of wisdom sayings and commentaries which acquired a magical reputation. You can't understand either of them without at least some knowledge of the other.

:reading:
Kim

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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by form » Wed Sep 13, 2017 8:42 am

Kim OHara wrote:
form wrote:... I know nothing about iching, I assume it came from trying to predict things from fixed pattern. Iching based on my limited knowledge is more of a confucius school speciality. I also think it started from trying to predict weather for successful agriculture.
It's worth finding and reading, then, if you want to understand the Tao Te Ching. The Wilhelm translation was the standard one for years but the Blofeld one - http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books ... 140193350/ - is more approachable.

Both texts emerged from ancient (even by Chinese standards!) oral traditions, both were shaped by Taoism and Confucianism as these traditions evolved, both call on similar ways of understanding nature and society.
The I Ching was a book of divination which accumulated some fairly deep philosophical commentary. The Tao Te Ching was a book of wisdom sayings and commentaries which acquired a magical reputation. You can't understand either of them without at least some knowledge of the other.

:reading:
Kim
I use it as a meditation text. Others use it as a political guide. I use it based on duality without iching knowledge. I do not have affinity with iching, so I pass it. So far I do not know anyone that use it the same way as me. I see parallels between it and dharma, but other dun. :mrgreen:

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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Will » Wed Sep 13, 2017 2:16 pm

Here are three that I found useful, with insightful commentaries: 1) Lin Yutang's
2) Man-jan Cheng's lectures with Chinese on facing pages and
3) Victor Mair's which is based on newly discovered much older MSS of Ma-wang-tui. In this latter case Mair gives notes, not a direct commentary.
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by form » Wed Sep 13, 2017 7:29 pm

Lao tzu already said in the most important chapter, tao is not for talking about. :mrgreen:

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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Coëmgenu » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:17 pm

There is a wonderful documentary that's (use to be?) on YouTube, about the temple tradition of Daoism specifically. As I recall, in the beginning, it quite rightly pointed out that the scriptures of Daoism (well, actually, only one of them particularly) have a large exposure, the Daoist religion is not often presented alongside its scriptures, at least as it exists as a living tradition in its homelands and in immigrant communities in the West, rather than a historical reconstruction of its roots as a tradition of forest ascetics (I do not mean to say that the tradition as-it-is is currently divorced from those roots at all, though)

I can't for the life of me find it, but if anyone else wants to look for it, on YouTube, I myself have a few minutes, so I will be looking for a link to add to this thread.
神足示現者,
世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

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Will
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Will » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:28 pm

Quite a few when I searched for 'Temple Taoism', maybe it is among these:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_ ... ple+taoism
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by chownah » Thu Sep 14, 2017 2:59 pm

form wrote:Lao tzu already said in the most important chapter, tao is not for talking about. :mrgreen:
I guess then we should not be talking about lao tzu's ideas about talking about it. :jumping:

On the other hand, lao tzu did say it is for talking about if you don't know. :shrug:
chownah

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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:21 pm

Thanks, Will,
Will wrote:Here are three that I found useful, with insightful commentaries: 1) Lin Yutang's
I found this online - https://labcit.ligo.caltech.edu/~mevans ... self%20DEF. It doesn't have any commentary or introduction that I could see, which surprised me. Is there anything extra in the hard-copy original?
2) Man-jan Cheng's lectures with Chinese on facing pages
I didn't find this online but found http://www.clearwhitelight.org/spiritua ... 2intro.htm which mentions it and has an interesting Introduction to the Tao Te Ching (but no translation)
INTRODUCTION: THE TAO TE CHING, LAO TZU, TAOISM AND ZEN

There is frequently some confusion between three practices, each of which is generically termed 'Taoism'. Since this confusion exists, it is important that the prospective student of Taoism can distinguish between them. The three activities, or practices of Taoism are Philosohical or speculative Taoism, Religious or esoteric Taoism, and Alchemical or 'debased' Taoism.
The earliest of these is Philosophical Taoism (Tao-chia), which is believed to have developed between the sixth to the second century before the Christian era, from the earlier 'Yin-Yang' school of philosophy, whose teachings it inherited and integrated into its own 'philosophical system' through the 'I Ching', now (unfortunately) most widely known as a work of 'divination'.

Philosophical Taoism is generally thought to have been based on the 'Tao Te Ching' of the possibly legendary Lao Tzu, and the work of his follower, Chuang Tzu, which is known through the book which bears his name, and is otherwise without title.

The major development and establishment of Religious Taoism (Tao-chiao) took place during the two Han dynasties (from 206 B.C. to 220 A.D.), and considered the Tao Te Ching as divine teaching, using specific interpretations of Lao Tzu's work as one of its own primary scriptures. The Religious Taoists deified Lao Tzu, describing him as the 'T'ai Shang Lao-chun'. In later centuries, Religious Taoism was to become a very powerful movement throughout China, where it was widely practiced, at least until the middle of the twentieth century.

The earliest known reference to Alchemy (in Eastern and Western Literature) is in the 'Shi-chi', written about eighty-five B.C., but the 'Chou'-i ts'an t'ung ch'i' of Wei Po-yang (c.200 A.D.) was probably the first major alchemical text to use a Taoist work to this end, some auhorities believeing the treatise to be a derivation of the I Ching. This form of alchemy was referred to by the Philosophical Taoists as 'debased Taoism'. ...
The book is listed on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Lao-Tzu-Words-Un ... 0913028916 with reviews which are ... mixed, let's say.
and
3) Victor Mair's which is based on newly discovered much older MSS of Ma-wang-tui. In this latter case Mair gives notes, not a direct commentary.
Found the ebook at https://directorydiesis.top/ebooks/tao- ... r-chm.html

:reading:
Kim

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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Will » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:39 pm

Thought there would be some Print on Demand version of Lin Yutang's, but maybe not. Lots of used copies though. So, yes much commentary based on traditional ones.

Go to Library Genesis for a PDF of the 1948 edition - title is The Wisdom of Lao-Tse

A little from Lin's introduction:
Probably the best approach to Laotse's philosophy is
through Emerson in his important essay on "Circles,"
which is fundamentally Taoist. Emerson uses the apostrophe,
"O circular philosopher." From the philosophy
of "circles," Emerson derives exactly the same consequences
as Laotse. Emerson taught that "every end is a
beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on
mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens."
Huei Shih taught, "When the sun is at its zenith, it is
setting somewhere else," and Chuangtse wrote, "To Tao,
the zenith is not high, nor the nadir low." Emerson taught,
"There are no fixtures in nature"; "There are no fixtures
to men." Consequently, "The new continents are built
out of the ruins of the old planet; the new races fed out of
the decomposition of the foregoing." From the circular
philosophy, Emerson produced Laotsean paradoxes. "The
highest prudence is the lowest prudence," "The virtues of
society are the vices of the saint," "People wish to be
settled; only as far as they are unsettled, is there any hope
for them." For the above Emersonian paradoxes, the
reader will be able to find exact, and sometimes verbal,
parallels in the selections from Chuangste. Emerson's two
essays, "Circles" and "The Over-soul," are completely
Taoist, and one appreciates them better after reading
Laotse.
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Will » Thu Sep 14, 2017 10:53 pm

More from Lin's Introduction:
Taoism, as a philosophy, therefore, may be summed up
as follows : It is a philosophy of the essential unity of the
universe (monism), of reversion, polarization (yin and
yang), and eternal cycles, of the leveling of all differences,
the relativity of all standards, and the return of all to the
Primeval One, the divine intelligence, the source of all
things. From this naturally arises the absence of desire
for strife and contention and fighting for advantage.
Distrust everyone in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Nietzsche

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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Will » Thu Sep 14, 2017 11:05 pm

I had forgotten about The Way of Lao Tzu by Wing-tsit Chan, which I have not read (but plan to).

But have read his A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy where he gives his own complete translation with some notes.

Chan's book arrived today; it is an expanded version of his chapter seven in his Sourcebook. Three intros on the philosophy, the man and the text are added. His notes and commentaries are also expanded from the Sourcebook, though it looks like his translation is the same. More direct and simple than Lin's, so I like it a bit more, although Lin has all those Chuang tzu quotes after each verse.
Last edited by Will on Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Sep 15, 2017 8:39 pm

What do we all think of this, as 'Buddhists'?

One of the more "out there" translations, from DDJ XXV, "Enumerating/Representing the Mystery":

There is a being, wonderful, perfect;
It existed before heaven and earth.
How quiet it is!
How spiritual it is!
It stands alone and it does not change.
It moves around and around, but does not on this account suffer.
All life comes from it.
It wraps everything with its love as in a garment, and yet it claims no honour, it does not demand to be Lord.
I do not know its name, and so I call it Tao, the Way, and I rejoice in its power.
(Gi-ming Shien & Eugene Rose)

One wouldn't know, but it is very difficult to look at the Chinese characters as-is, and see Gi-ming Shien & Eugene Rose's translation there. This is a "dynamic" translation (that alleges to capture to "meaning" rather than the "vocabulary" of what is being translated), and one that is quoted in the opening of Hieromonk Damascene's Christ the Eternal Tao, because it is obviously friendly to theistic interpretation.

Compare this with the rendering by James Legge, where a one-to-one correspondence can be drawn between clauses in the English and Chinese:
有物混成,先天地生。寂兮寥兮,獨立不改,周行而不殆,可以為天下母。
There was something undefined and complete, coming into existence before Heaven and Earth. How still it was and formless, standing alone, and undergoing no change, reaching everywhere and in no danger! It may be regarded as the Mother of all things.

吾不知其名,字之曰道,強為之名曰大。
I do not know its name, and I give it the designation of the Dao. Making an effort to give it a name I call it The Great.

大曰逝,逝曰遠,遠曰反。故道大,天大,地大,王亦大。域中有四大,而王居其一焉。
Great, it passes on. Passing on, it becomes remote. Having become remote, it returns. Therefore the Dao is great; Heaven is great; Earth is great; and the sage is also great. In the universe there are four that are great, and the sage is one of them.

人法地,地法天,天法道,道法自然。
Man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from Heaven; Heaven takes its law from the Dao. The law of the Dao is its being what it is.
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Sat Sep 16, 2017 8:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.
神足示現者,
世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Coëmgenu » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:14 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:What do you think of this, as Buddhists?

[...] from DDJ XXV, "Enumerating/Representing the Mystery":
For further contextualization, three more translations of DDJ XXV, varying from Shien and Legge's:

There is a Being wondrous and complete. Before heaven and earth, it was. How calm it is! How spiritual! Alone it standeth, and it changeth not; around it moveth, and it suffereth not; yet therefore can it be the world's mother. Its name I know not, but its nature I call Reason. Constrained to give a name, I call it the great. The great I call the departing, and the departing I call the beyond. The beyond I call home. The saying goes: "Reason is great, heaven is great, earth is great, and royalty also is great. [There are four things in the world that are great, and royalty is one of them.] Man's standard is the earth. The earth's standard is heaven. Heaven's standard is Reason. Reason's standard is intrinsic.
(D. T. Suzuki & Paul Carus)

There is Being that is all-inclusive and that existed before Heaven and Earth. Calm, indeed, and incorporeal! It is alone and changeless!
Everywhere it functions unhindered. It thereby becomes the world's mother. I do not know its nature; if I try to characterize it, I will call it Dao. If forced to give it a name, I will call it the Great. The Great is evasive, the evasive is the distant, the distant is ever coming near. Tao is Great. So is Heaven great, and so is Earth and so also is the representative of Heaven and Earth. Man is derived from nature, nature is derived from Heaven, Heaven is derived from Dao. Dao is self-derived.
(Dwight Goddard & Henri Borel)

There was Something undefined and yet complete in itself, born before Heaven-and-Earth. Silent and boundless, standing alone without change, yet pervading all without fail, tt may be regarded as the Mother of the world. I do not know its name; I style it "Tao"; and, in the absence of a better word, call it "The Great." To be great is to go on, to go on is to be far, to be far is to return. Hence, "Tao is great, Heaven is great, Earth is great, King is great." Thus, the king is one of the great four in the Universe. Man follows the ways of the Earth. The Earth follows the ways of Heaven, Heaven follows the ways of Tao, Tao follows its own ways.
(John C.H. Wu)
Last edited by Coëmgenu on Sun Sep 17, 2017 8:23 pm, edited 4 times in total.
神足示現者,
世尊隨其所應,而示現入禪定正受,陵虛至東方,作四威儀,
行、住、坐、臥,入火三昧,出種種火光,青、黃、赤、白、
紅、頗梨色,水火俱現, 或身下出火,身上出水,身上出火,
身下出水,周圓四方亦復如是。

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Kim OHara
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Re: Dao De Jing or Tao Te Ching - Book of the way

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:24 pm

(Replying to both posts)
I think the problematic shift is to characterise "something" as "a being" because that brings with it all sorts of notions about a personality, motivations, etc. which (the consensus seems to be) simply aren't there in the original. And it's very hard for any Westerners, with our monotheist heritage, to see "a being" in this context as anything much different from the creator-ruler-god, which is even further from the original.

:namaste:
Kim

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