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Author Topic: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)  (Read 2698 times)

r2squared

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A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« on: July 02, 2012, 01:20:12 pm »
By definition, Taoism isn't exactly a religion, in that there is no direct worship of a god or deity. It's more of a philosophy set simply for one to live their life.
That's about the most basic definition I could find.

I "dabbled" a little with Eastern philosophies in high school such as Buddhism, Shinto, and Taoism. Taoism stuck out to me the most in its never ending emphasis on balance. A Taoist is not afraid of darkness, but he knows not to get lost in it either. A Taoist recognizes his flaws and his own shadows just as he sees his left and right hand. Where there is light, there is shadows. Therefore a Taoist strives to find peace by going with the way of Tao (literally means "Way" or "The Way", as in a path.)*

I did not dedicate myself to Taoism because of it's passive nature, or at least what I perceived it to be through the author of a couple books I read. It seemed to me that the Taoist did not try and create his own destiny, he simply rode out the waves of life in peaceful, dignified grace. As romantic as that sounds, I got the idea that heavy amounts of solitude and meditation were encouraged, to the point of hermiting oneself (again, just going with the perception I got from a few authors) and I simply didn't have the time for that.

Still, the principle of harmony through balance has worked wonders for me with my current path, and I find myself using various Taoistic principles in spell craft. For example, one of the books I own called Everyday Tao by an author called Deng Ming-Dao (I can support a link if anyone requests) is basically a Taoist dictionary of sorts with about 200 words maybe (simple words grouped into different categories) and includes the Chinese character for it, which I then fashion into a rune.

I hope to gain some new knowledge and perspectives from people who possibly share similar philosophies or who have a knowledge in the field. Thanks so much for reading!

Annie Roonie

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 05:54:31 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;62514

As romantic as that sounds, I got the idea that heavy amounts of solitude and meditation were encouraged, to the point of hermiting oneself (again, just going with the perception I got from a few authors) and I simply didn't have the time for that.


I think there are many people who do not do the hermit thing, but I tend toward it myself for various reasons. Some psychic awareness stuff makes being alone a much more conducive to creativity and contemplation. A giant part of my life is spent in big groups of people, and to best serve them it helps if I preserve my mind. It's not isolation but it is kind of like how the Tao says that when the people are happy they do not seek to go elsewhere, but are content to tend their own gardens. I think it even says they can hear the cock crow and the dark bark across a border but are content never to have seen either. It reminds me of Voltaire a bit in this.

Certainly it can be a luxury to have the opportunity to spend time this way in this day and age. It's understandable.


Quote from: r2squared;62514
Still, the principle of harmony through balance has worked wonders for me with my current path, and I find myself using various Taoistic principles in spell craft.


I do too. It is with much more clarity of purpose I can word my intent when viewing it from what could be a middle path. (Which by the way, that bit always reminds me of the Bible saying that wide is the gate and narrow is the path.)

Quote from: r2squared;62514
I hope to gain some new knowledge and perspectives from people who possibly share similar philosophies or who have a knowledge in the field. Thanks so much for reading!



I have not read many books on the Tao much more than a few pages, but I have read the Tao Te Ching many times. It's not too long and I love that it exists online in many places so it's handy. I've studied it unofficially and taught it in a very excerpted bullet point fashion.

Like any philosophy, I think there are parts that can be very beneficial to contemplate but there are parts that are very difficult to assimilate for my western mind. For example, seeking balance in the dark and light. That challenge is one that brings about great compassion; however, it is very tough to do when thinking of things in the abstract. Say I were to meet a pedophile, it would be much easier for me to have compassion for the person, but if I have to tackle that concept in the abstract, seeing lightness there, is hella harder.

(I think of Hekate with this concept often. "In Darkness, Light")

There is much of the Tao that I consider beneficial in dealing with the world. That flow cannot be stopped but you can work with a flow if you can see the flow. It is in this where I find creativity learned during contemplative acts has its biggest impact. If one is creative enough, you can make a stream meander. It's going to flow regardless so fighting it is futile, but shaping it is another story. And I think that is why magic appeals to me. It is a creative way to direct the flow.


As far as a governing policy goes and even religiously, there are aspects of the Tao that ring too close to Biblical ideas with which I disagree. The master teaches his people NOT to know, for example. By trying to know, they avoid learning and their minds are cluttered by trivialities etc. The Bible doesn't groove on divination and witches (people who find ways to know). There is something inherently wrong with this anti-knowledge idea, IMO. For the Tao, it is not recognizing that within the all there exists also the need to know. It being a control mechanism for a populace doesn't appeal to me. I see it (the promoted not knowing) function in the Bible that way. Anti-intellectualism: that's what I see it amount to in some of my society, not deeper contemplation as it may be meant.

I think if people want to know, guiding their quest or simply making knowledge available is much more in line with how a modern master might rely upon the Tao.

One really great tool I've learned from the Tao that has helped me find my own center, is the oft repeated idea of doing nothing. Too many pokes spoils the fish in cooking. Patience with a side serving of observation. The idea is not exclusive to the Tao of course. When I read threads where people ask for quick magical fixes and a responder asks the question like "Are you certain there is not another more practical and effective way to solve this problem?" I am reminded of how the craft of the wise is in sync with the Tao often.

There are parts to the Tao (the way) too as you may know. It is shortened to that one word but there is also the Te (the virtue - personal virtue) and they are in the Ching (the great book).

In discussing the Tao over the years, many times I have heard people think it is a soft or feel-good philosophy. I do not believe that it is. I think reading Machiavelli's The Prince along with the Tao Te Ching helps to clarify exactly how tough the ideas actually are. They are both tracts on how to govern at least in part. One operates on the concept that all people are neither good nor bad and the other operates on the assumption that "men are a sorry lot." Sometimes the two pieces act as foils for each other, but oddly, many times the manipulator and the master are one in the same IMO.

Annie Roonie

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 08:37:49 pm »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;62539
they can hear the cock crow and the dark bark across a border but are content never to have seen either.


That "dark" should be dog dangit. :)

Marilyn/Absentminded

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2012, 08:43:37 pm »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;62555
That "dark" should be dog dangit. :)

 
But the dark barking is so much more poetic!

Absent
I smile when I\'m angry.  I cheat and I lie
I do what I have to do to get by
But I know what is wrong, and I know what is right
And I die for the truth in my secret life

   In My Secret Life, L. Cohen

Annie Roonie

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2012, 09:00:10 pm »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;62557
But the dark barking is so much more poetic!

Absent

 

Haaaa! I think so too.

And the cock crowing? Now that is just confusing as all get out. Do I need a bird augury or a glass of wine with that?

Sorry. I have the sillies.:whis:

Marilyn/Absentminded

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #5 on: July 02, 2012, 11:44:27 pm »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;62558
Haaaa! I think so too.

And the cock crowing? Now that is just confusing as all get out. Do I need a bird augury or a glass of wine with that?

Sorry. I have the sillies.:whis:

 
The crowing of the cock has brought a rending
And the rising of the sun has set to mending
All the terror that the fearsome one was sending
Now the barking of the dark at last is ending

My sillies take a different path. :)

Absent
I smile when I\'m angry.  I cheat and I lie
I do what I have to do to get by
But I know what is wrong, and I know what is right
And I die for the truth in my secret life

   In My Secret Life, L. Cohen

Queen of Wands

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2012, 11:57:10 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;62514
By definition, Taoism isn't exactly a religion, in that there is no direct worship of a god or deity. It's more of a philosophy set simply for one to live their life.



I have a teacher, a mentor who is a Taoist and I have learned so much from his example that I've set out to learn the Way for myself recently. Hence my preference for calling myself a Pagan, for my beliefs based in both Wicca and Taoism.

Annie Roonie

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 01:10:40 pm »
Quote from: Marilyn/Absentminded;62570
The crowing of the cock has brought a rending
And the rising of the sun has set to mending
All the terror that the fearsome one was sending
Now the barking of the dark at last is ending

My sillies take a different path. :)

Absent


Do you mind if I paint that on something someday? I will totally credit you.

Marilyn/Absentminded

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2012, 04:02:06 pm »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;62639
Do you mind if I paint that on something someday? I will totally credit you.

 
No problem.  'Absent' is good, rather than any other name.

Absent
I smile when I\'m angry.  I cheat and I lie
I do what I have to do to get by
But I know what is wrong, and I know what is right
And I die for the truth in my secret life

   In My Secret Life, L. Cohen

r2squared

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2012, 05:36:51 pm »
Quote from: Annie Roonie;62539

Like any philosophy, I think there are parts that can be very beneficial to contemplate but there are parts that are very difficult to assimilate for my western mind. For example, seeking balance in the dark and light. That challenge is one that brings about great compassion; however, it is very tough to do when thinking of things in the abstract. Say I were to meet a pedophile, it would be much easier for me to have compassion for the person, but if I have to tackle that concept in the abstract, seeing lightness there, is hella harder.

(I think of Hekate with this concept often. "In Darkness, Light")


I agree! One of my biggest philosophies is that one should never be afraid of the dark, nor should he get lost in it. As for the pedofile thing, I agree that it's hard for my moral understands to grasp any sort of compassion for an individual on that level, but I also know it's not my place to pass the final judgement. I believe anybody can change.


Quote from: Annie Roonie;62539
As far as a governing policy goes and even religiously, there are aspects of the Tao that ring too close to Biblical ideas with which I disagree. The master teaches his people NOT to know, for example. By trying to know, they avoid learning and their minds are cluttered by trivialities etc. The Bible doesn't groove on divination and witches (people who find ways to know). There is something inherently wrong with this anti-knowledge idea, IMO. For the Tao, it is not recognizing that within the all there exists also the need to know. It being a control mechanism for a populace doesn't appeal to me. I see it (the promoted not knowing) function in the Bible that way. Anti-intellectualism: that's what I see it amount to in some of my society, not deeper contemplation as it may be meant.

I think if people want to know, guiding their quest or simply making knowledge available is much more in line with how a modern master might rely upon the Tao.


And I think that's what seperates me as a Pagan from being a Taoist. I agree and respect it's concept of balance and natural harmony. I do not agree with its tendency to repress the student.

Quote from: Annie Roonie;62539

 The idea is not exclusive to the Tao of course. When I read threads where people ask for quick magical fixes and a responder asks the question like "Are you certain there is not another more practical and effective way to solve this problem?" I am reminded of how the craft of the wise is in sync with the Tao often.


I'd like to learn more about concepts and ideas similar to Tao, if anybody wants to share.

Quote from: Annie Roonie;62539

In discussing the Tao over the years, many times I have heard people think it is a soft or feel-good philosophy. I do not believe that it is.

That, I think, depends on the readers. Sure it can be a feel-good philosophy, but it will only feel good if the reader knows how to read between the lines and understand allegories and metaphors. It's all very metaphorical. What the Tao has taught me is moderation, never to take more than I give. I has taught me to know when to fight and when to run, and that my strength should never be used for any other than defense.
It taught me to forgive myself of the mistakes I've made, because just as we have a left and a right hand, so do light and darkness coexist inside each of us. And that concept, too, I think is relatively similar to the Biblical concept of sin and forgiveness, but I don't think it has the same emphasis as the Bible. The Bible speaks of repentance after forgiveness, while Taoism encourages you to understand your mistake and simply try and learn from it. Just in my perspective.

Lokabrenna

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2012, 06:17:38 pm »
Quote from: r2squared;62514
By definition, Taoism isn't exactly a religion, in that there is no direct worship of a god or deity. It's more of a philosophy set simply for one to live their life.
That's about the most basic definition I could find.


You've never heard of so-called "religious Daoism"?

Granted, there's not much information on it, but I'd recommend a read through of this document: http://www.daoistcenter.org/Daoism_Misconceptions.pdf

Annie Roonie

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2012, 12:44:43 am »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;62775
You've never heard of so-called "religious Daoism"?

Granted, there's not much information on it, but I'd recommend a read through of this document: http://www.daoistcenter.org/Daoism_Misconceptions.pdf

 
Bookmarked for work purposes!    THANKS!

Kasmira

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2012, 01:29:57 am »
Quote from: Lokabrenna;62775
You've never heard of so-called "religious Daoism"?

Granted, there's not much information on it, but I'd recommend a read through of this document: http://www.daoistcenter.org/Daoism_Misconceptions.pdf

 
Thanks for posting that. It does a better job of pointing out a lot of the issues with the Western conception of Daoism than I could possibly do. I would, however, point out that the distinction drawn in the article between "traditional Chinese cosmology/culture" and Daoist religion is something of an oversimplification. Making this distinction requires that one erect a border between culture and religion that does not necessarily exist in Daoism's original cultural/religious context.

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Kasmira

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2012, 01:32:39 am »
Quote from: Kasmira;62801


 
PS. Not sure anyone's linked to our last Daoism thread yet. Folks might like to take a look as some of the posts there go into a little more detail on Western misconceptions of Daoism.

Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss - Douglas Adams
To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all - Oscar Wilde

Lokabrenna

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Re: A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2012, 03:47:56 pm »
Quote from: Kasmira;62801
Thanks for posting that. It does a better job of pointing out a lot of the issues with the Western conception of Daoism than I could possibly do. I would, however, point out that the distinction drawn in the article between "traditional Chinese cosmology/culture" and Daoist religion is something of an oversimplification. Making this distinction requires that one erect a border between culture and religion that does not necessarily exist in Daoism's original cultural/religious context.

 
I think what the article is saying is that these concepts didn't originate with "distinct, indigenous, cultural traditions like Confucianism and Daoism" which is what the misconception is saying, but that they were used by both traditions.

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