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

Post by SarathW » Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:49 am

Great audio of the translation of Dao De Jing

https://youtu.be/UxEvRoAaYBM
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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

Post by BasementBuddhist » Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:54 am

Thank you, Sarath. I'm enjoying listening.

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

Post by form » Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:35 am

The chapters in the first half or a third seems supramandane, then comes chapters talking about how to ran a country, even with any form of self defence.

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

Post by Garrib » Sat Sep 09, 2017 5:57 am

I really liked reading the Tao Te Ching before landing on Buddhism - there is a sense of beauty and naturalness to it. There is some wisdom there, for sure. But at the end of the day, it is not Buddhism...I don't think its leading directly to the end of suffering.

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

Post by SarathW » Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:28 am

it is not Buddhism...I don't think its leading directly to the end of suffering.
Agree.
It appears there are some flows in Taoism. I wonder whether it is promoting non-doing.
This is why it appears that confucinism emerge to counter act Taoism.
The fascinating thing about is how this brief teaching spread to such massive following.
Perhaps the simplicity.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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

Post by Garrib » Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:44 am

SarathW wrote:
it is not Buddhism...I don't think its leading directly to the end of suffering.
Agree.
It appears there are some flows in Taoism. I wonder whether it is promoting non-doing.
This is why it appears that confucinism emerge to counter act Taoism.
The fascinating thing about is how this brief teaching spread to such massive following.
Perhaps the simplicity.
Yea, interesting - confucianism is very "yang" right?

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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 » Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:13 am

SarathW wrote:...
It appears there are some flows in Taoism. I wonder whether it is promoting non-doing.
The concept of "wu wei" is central to Taoism. It is usually translated as "non-doing" but it's a bit more than that.
In the Taoist texts, wu wei (無 爲) is often associated with water and its yielding nature. In illustration, it can assume any form or shape it inhabits.

Wu may be translated as not have or without; Wei may be translated as do, act, serve as, govern or effort. The literal meaning of wu wei is "without action", "without effort", or "without control", and is often included in the paradox wei wu wei: "action without action" or "effortless doing". The practice of wu wei and the efficacy of wei wu wei are fundamental tenets in Chinese thought and have been mostly emphasized by the Taoist school. One cannot actively pursue wu wei. It manifests as a result of cultivation. The Tao is a guide.

There is another less commonly referenced sense of wu wei; "action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort". In this instance, wu means "without" and Wei means "effort". The concept of "effortless action" is a part of Taoist Internal martial arts such as T'ai chi ch'uan, Baguazhang and Xing Yi. It follows that wu wei complies with the distinguishing feature of Taoism, that of being natural.

In Zen Calligraphy, wu wei has been represented as an ensō (circle); in China, the calligraphic inscriptions of the words wu wei themselves resonate with old Taoist stories.

Several chapters of the most important Taoist text, the Tao Te Ching, attributed to Laozi, allude to "diminishing doing" or "diminishing will" as the key aspect of the sage's success. Taoist philosophy recognizes that the Universe already works harmoniously according to its own ways; as a person exerts their will against or upon the world they disrupt the harmony that already exists. This is not to say that a person should not exert agency and will. Rather, it is how one acts in relation to the natural processes already existent. The how, the Tao of intention and motivation, that is key.
That's from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_wei#Taoist_usage. Click on the link and read the whole page if you want more.

There are deep similarities between Taoism and Buddhism, and even more similarities between Taoism and Zen. Of course, Zen arose from Chan which developed as Indian Buddhism was translated into Chinese cultural patterns, but tracing the influences - in both directions - is likely to be controversial and is sure to be mostly guesswork.

:namaste:
Kim

P.S. Here's one attempt to trace connections. I'm not entirely convinced by it, but it's a good start. http://www.outsidecontext.com/2013/05/1 ... -the-east/

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

Post by SarathW » Sat Sep 09, 2017 10:41 pm

Thank you, Kim, for the clarification.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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

Post by BasementBuddhist » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:38 am

Obviously there are what seem to be differences among them, but I feel that there are so many many different belief systems that are speaking to the same central truth. While I am a Buddhist to my soul-less core, wisdom is wisdom wherever you find it. It should always be embraced.

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

Post by form » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:30 am

Non doing = no volition.

Taoism is the way ancient Chinese talk, either you get it at once or you Dun. Pali canon is the way Indian talk in a more wordy way but not necessarily clearer.

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

Post by Coëmgenu » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:15 pm

Fun fact about the Dàodéjīng:

It is VERY minimal and sparse. It makes the Chinese āgamaḥ look like Hegel in comparison.

The opening stanza is only 9 words.

The entire opening chapter has only 50 words. Compare this with some of the very verbose translations of it in Engish!
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 » Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:32 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:Fun fact about the Dàodéjīng:

It is VERY minimal and sparse. It makes the Chinese āgamaḥ look like Hegel in comparison.

The opening stanza is only 9 words.

The entire opening chapter has only 50 words. Compare this with some of the very verbose translations of it in Engish!
My favourite edition is the Sacred Arts publication translated by Martin Palmer, Jay Ramsay, Man-Ho Kwok. I'm sure it uses more words than the Chinese (I don't read Chinese but I do know it's renowned for conciseness) but it's still not verbose.

:reading:
Kim

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

Post by Coëmgenu » Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:53 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Fun fact about the Dàodéjīng:

It is VERY minimal and sparse. It makes the Chinese āgamaḥ look like Hegel in comparison.

The opening stanza is only 9 words.

The entire opening chapter has only 50 words. Compare this with some of the very verbose translations of it in Engish!
My favourite edition is the Sacred Arts publication translated by Martin Palmer, Jay Ramsay, Man-Ho Kwok. I'm sure it uses more words than the Chinese (I don't read Chinese but I do know it's renowned for conciseness) but it's still not verbose.

:reading:
Kim
Well, to be fair, if it takes 150+ English words (as a random example) to explain 50 ancient Chinese words, it makes sense given their ancientness and foreignness.

But the discrepancy is still surreal!
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。

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

Post by davidbrainerd » Mon Sep 11, 2017 1:19 pm

Coëmgenu wrote:Fun fact about the Dàodéjīng:

It is VERY minimal and sparse. It makes the Chinese āgamaḥ look like Hegel in comparison.

The opening stanza is only 9 words.

The entire opening chapter has only 50 words. Compare this with some of the very verbose translations of it in Engish!
I spent quite a bit of time in Barnes and Noble comparing translations one time. It seemed to me the best translation is John C.H. Wu. But then again, that determination wasn't based on a knowledge of Chinese, so I'd be curious your evaluation of that translation.

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

Post by form » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:49 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Fun fact about the Dàodéjīng:

It is VERY minimal and sparse. It makes the Chinese āgamaḥ look like Hegel in comparison.

The opening stanza is only 9 words.

The entire opening chapter has only 50 words. Compare this with some of the very verbose translations of it in Engish!
I spent quite a bit of time in Barnes and Noble comparing translations one time. It seemed to me the best translation is John C.H. Wu. But then again, that determination wasn't based on a knowledge of Chinese, so I'd be curious your evaluation of that translation.
This version is the only one I have at home. I am not sure if it is the best, but it is the one I happened to buy long time ago. Daodejing benefit best when one read and meditate on it. And only the front chapters work. Those chapters at the back I suspect were added in later.

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

Post by Coëmgenu » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:55 pm

davidbrainerd wrote:
Coëmgenu wrote:Fun fact about the Dàodéjīng:

It is VERY minimal and sparse. It makes the Chinese āgamaḥ look like Hegel in comparison.

The opening stanza is only 9 words.

The entire opening chapter has only 50 words. Compare this with some of the very verbose translations of it in Engish!
I spent quite a bit of time in Barnes and Noble comparing translations one time. It seemed to me the best translation is John C.H. Wu. But then again, that determination wasn't based on a knowledge of Chinese, so I'd be curious your evaluation of that translation.
I found it here, I believe. Its pretty good, and keeps "additions" to a minimal level.

Compare his rendition of the opening to Dwight Goddard's:
The Dao that can be understood cannot be the primal, or cosmic, Dao, just as an idea that can be expressed in words cannot be the infinite idea.

And yet this ineffable Dao was the source of all spirit and matter, and being expressed was the mother of all created things.

Therefore not to desire the things of sense is to know the freedom of spirituality; and to desire is to learn the limitation of matter.

These two things spirit and matter, so different in nature, have the same origin. This unity of origin is the mystery of mysteries, but it is the gateway to spirituality.
A lot of "interpretation" there, its almost a "commentary" on the text rather than a translation. At the very least he could have put his own commentarial additions in footnotes or differentiated from elements found in the source text.
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 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:01 pm

I still like Palmer et al:
The Tao that can be talked about is not the true Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal name.
Everything in the universe comes out of Nothing.

Nothing - the nameless
is the beginning;
While Heaven, the mother,
is the creatrix of all things.

Follow the nothingness of the Tao,
and you can be like it, not needing anything, [etc]
"creatrix" is a bit silly, IMO - "creator" is not masculine, so you don't need a contrived feminine version of it - but the rest is okay.

:reading:
Kim

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

Post by Garrib » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:16 pm

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.

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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 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:23 pm

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

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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 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:32 pm

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.
I'm rapidly getting out of my depth here, too, but ...
(1) I have a feeling that in Taoism male and female emerge from an ultimate source that is neither male nor female.
(2) The Wu translation also has a female heaven:
"As the origin of heaven-and-earth, it is nameless:
As "the Mother" of all things, it is nameable."

Coemgenu?

:namaste:
Kim

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