richrf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 01:03 am
@prothero,
prothero;81365 wrote:
In the west the problem is sin in the east the problem is suffering.


Actually, I don't find problems in Eastern philosophy. It seems to be more about dealing with life.

Daoism speaks more about accepting life as it is: movement, flux, cycles, opposites, etc. Confucianism more away the hierarchical order of life. I guess both have validity depending upon the context.

Yes, Buddhism, seems to have some sort of objective to escape suffering, but actually, I see it a bit differently. To me, the Noble Truths are simply stating that life is tough and it gets tougher the more you desire things - - including holding on to life. Seems fair enough to me. Now, however, there is the Eight Fold Path that purportedly overturns life's essential's problems if you do the right thing. So even if you desire something, your dreams can come through. Hmmm ... something seems to me to be amiss here. My guess is that the history is a bit more complicated that what common wisdom believes, but I never had time to really look into it.

Hinduism, on the other hand, is a grand example of a religion/philosophy for everyone. You can believe almost anything and still be a Hindu. So why are they always fighting with Moslems? Life can be crazy at times.

Anyway, Eastern philosophy is pretty varied, but what I like about it is that it accepts all aspects of the human being as opposed to declaring evils. Yes, they all attempt to modify, but there is less renunciation of who whe are, rather an attempt to tinker. To what extent they are successful, ...

But, for my taste, Daoism has the most appeal. It all exists, with equal amounts, and within each, there exists the other. And it goes on and on and on. That is pretty much what I have observed now, in the past, and I am guessing in the the not too distant future.

Rich
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 01:36 am
@vajrasattva,
A footnote about the unknowableness of 'God' from the perspective of Orthodox theology.

'God' is LIKE light, and also LIKE The Good, The Source of Being, and so on.

However these imgaes are just devices which are used to direct one's attention to the true source of being. They are not actually true descriptions, and God is not like anything we know or can ever know. All we can know are His energies, not His essence (ouisa). This perhaps also is the inner light that appears in meditation.
0 Replies
 
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 06:07 pm
@prothero,
There is monism in eastern philosophy, but I am not comfortable categorizing Taoism as monist. To add such a label is to assert that Tao can be known intellectually, which runs contrary to teachings in the Tao-Te-Ching and in Chuang-Tzu.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 06:32 pm
@vajrasattva,
Mind you I do wonder how well you can really understand Taoism without being fluent in Chinese. (And certainly I agree there is no way you can describe it as 'monist'.)

I say this because every English translation of the Tao Te Ching is different. This leads to an interesting consideration of how language conditions perception.
salima
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 06:45 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;81499 wrote:
Mind you I do wonder how well you can really understand Taoism without being fluent in Chinese. (And certainly I agree there is no way you can describe it as 'monist'.)

I say this because every English translation of the Tao Te Ching is different. This leads to an interesting consideration of how language conditions perception.


aha! just like when i read rumi translated by coleman barks i think he is pretty funny, and when i read other translations i think he is ho-hum...how do i know if it is the translator i am appreciating?

but as for the article, i have to disagree. i know i will be contradicted, and i cant prove what i believe, but i believe language is a reflection of how we think culturally.

i know i have read that we cant think without language, but that is definitely not true-watch a baby or toddler pre-language and tell me they are not thinking! i have observed a child very late in language development who was able to play pretend games watching television or other children by imitating-i cant believe there is no thought involved. first we think-then we use our language to express our thoughts. by the way, having two languages i find that some thoughts come out in one language and others in the other, depending on whichever suits-and it happens instantaneously, i dont stop and analyze which would work best.

---------- Post added 08-06-2009 at 06:30 AM ----------

however in translating there often are components missing in one of the languages, so in something as precise and technical as spiritual scriptures i would agree that they must be read in the languages in which they were written.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 07:25 pm
@salima,
This is exactly why we in the west need to have greater reverence for our translators.

As for Taoism, I think part of understanding the tradition is reading various translations - studying the education of the individual translators, selecting those who appear to be most capable of giving an honest rendering of the text, studying the passages as they compare to one another, and meditating on what you discover. From what I have been told, even in the Chinese, the Tao Te Ching is a text to be read and contemplated over a whole lifetime. I would imagine the same is true of the work in any other language. No small challenge.
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 08:44 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
I've studied Daoism for the last 25 years by actively practicing it in every day life. By applying to my health practices, e.g. Chinese medicine, Taijiquan, dietary lifestyle, Qigong, etc., by practicing it in terms of observation of the world, by applying ideas to relationships and the way I see my life and others. I have also studied many translations of the ancient Yi Jing, Dao De Jing, and medical texts and some are actually quite good, but most are just translations coming from a dictionary and not experience. And I help people nurture themselves back from poor health problems based upon my experiences and what they can experience.

So, I think, the best way to understand is the experience in every day life. I feel the Qi energy flow through me was I do Taijiquan and it moves me without Will (Zhi), but by Imagination (Yi). And I can feel the Yin/Yang, not as a concept but as something that I am experiencing as the pendulum moves back and forth within me. Most texts do not make this distinction, because one has to experience it to understand it. And I can teach it also, which is also nice, and something that I am pleased to do.

Rich

Rich
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 09:22 pm
@vajrasattva,
I completely agree that dedication and devotion are the best way to practise and understand a philosophy.
richrf
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 10:41 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;81525 wrote:
I completely agree that dedication and devotion are the best way to practise and understand a philosophy.


For me, it was not so much devotion, but the darn thing just works. The Daoists were great observers of the world and were able to figure things out. It is a very straightforward view of the world consisting of motion, opposites, and unity. And if applied to all aspects of life (this takes time to learn), it can really create quite an interesting life. It's not for everyone, but for some it is a great way to live.

Rich
0 Replies
 
vectorcube
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 Aug, 2009 11:25 pm
@vajrasattva,
vajrasattva;80959 wrote:
One of the concepts of god used in christian theology is god as light. I have begun to contemplate this and have found it very helpful in meditation. I am not sure why it is effective but it is. So i was wondering if you all could help me to understand this concept more throughly?

Thanks



well, the notion of light is surely something that is commonly used. For example, we often see people that are morally superior, and say they are shown with a good light. We see bad people with a bad light. When something is clear, and understood, then we say they are illuminating. When something is not clear, and vague, we say it is not-illuminating. We use the analogy of light all the time. You, as a product of western culture would be predispose to think in a certain way to think of light as you do. Personally, i find it surprising you don` t think of light the way you do here.
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 02:29 am
@vajrasattva,
there is also the image of The Clear Light which was a stage of high realisation discussed in the first Western translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo Thodol). Clear Light also, not co-incidentally, became the black-market name of the one mm square clear tabs of LSD manufactured by Sandoz of Switzerland, before it became illegal.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 03:53 am
@jeeprs,
Not to mention Tim Leary's adaptation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead as a psychedelic manual. But we all know where that trip led...
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 03:55 am
@vajrasattva,
To The Politics of Esctacy, I seem to recall. I looked at it again a couple of years ago, and it really doesn't stand up well. But what a great title.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 04:25 am
@jeeprs,
"What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped to create...a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody-or at least some force-is tending the Light at the end of the tunnel."

- Hunter S Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
0 Replies
 
jeeprs
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 04:44 am
@vajrasattva,
I don't want to go there again. But it wasn't all a downer, ya know.

If you have time, I found this excellent article by Camille Paglia called Cults and Cosmic Consciousness, Religious Visions of America in the 1960's.

First rate.
Didymos Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 05:01 am
@jeeprs,
Oh, I know - it hasn't all ended, either, ya know? Smile Everything in moderation, right?

This article looks great - thanks! I'll report back after I get through it all; should make for some interesting discussion. One of my favorite 60's religious thinkers was Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk who was immensely interested in eastern spirituality. This article is right up my alley.
0 Replies
 
hammersklavier
 
  1  
Reply Thu 6 Aug, 2009 03:44 pm
@Icon,
Icon;81071 wrote:
This is a very excellent understanding of light at a source of mysticism!



Assuming that you are talking about the Tao Te Ching, the Tao is considered darkness in a completely different context. The darkness of the Tao refers to the ever elusive nature of the Tao.

"If you think you know the Tao then you do not." Is a Chinese proverb from about the 5th century A.D. This is to show that the Tao is not something which you can know, only something you can experience. Once experienced, the Tao becomes light with which your "soul" is illuminated. The thing with Taosim is that one must not seek the light because you'll never find it. The light becomes apparent once you have sought the truth.



I like Salima's answer but let me provide one of my own. When you sit in complete darkness, your mind attaches to the darkness. When you sit in the light, your mind attaches to the light. In meditation, our goal is to remove the external and concentrate on the internal. As it is, light gives life, provides heat, reveals paths and nurtures the foundation (earth or soul). So when we are meditating, we find ourselves attached to a worldly perception in order to identify with what we might consider truth. Light is an obvious choice because it gives so much but asks for nothing in return. Thus is our perception of God. A being that gives but is beyond return. A non-contractual being that requires nothing for the gifts given to us.

Icon:

1) Daodejing = Tao Te Ching. One's in pinyin, the other Wade-Giles.
2) DDJ 1:
Quote:
Darkness beyond darkness.
The source of all understanding.
0 Replies
 
 

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