Discussion of other spiritual or religious traditions with Zen in mind.
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Friends, let's end empty talking.
What is Tao?
is a Chinese word signifying 'way', 'path', 'route', 'key' or sometimes more loosely 'doctrine' or 'principle'. Within the context of traditional Chinese philosophy and religion, the Tao is the intuitive knowing of "life" that cannot be grasped full-heartedly as just a concept but is known nonetheless through actual living experience of one's everyday being. The Tao differs from conventional (Western) ontology in that it is an active and holistic practice of the natural order of Nature and its universal awakening, rather than a static, atomistic one.
Laozi in the Tao Te Ching explains that the Tao is not a 'name' for a 'thing' but the underlying natural order of the Universe whose ultimate essence is difficult to circumscribe due to it being non conceptual yet evident' in one's being of aliveness. The Tao is "eternally nameless” (Tao Te Ching-32. Laozi) and to be distinguished from the countless 'named' things which are considered to be its manifestations, the reality of life before its descriptions of it.
The Tao lends its name to the religious tradition (Wade–Giles, Tao Chiao;Pinyin, Daojiao) and philosophical tradition (Wade–Giles, Tao chia; Pinyin,Daojia) that are both referred to in English with the single term Taoism.
The term dao 道 is analyzable in terms of Chinese characters, alternate dào"way" or dǎo "guide" pronunciations and meanings, a possible Proto-Indo-European etymology, and loanwordssuch as English Dao or dao.Bronze script for dao 道Large seal script for dao 道Small seal script for dao 道
Dao is written with the Chinese character 道 in both Traditional Chineseand Simplified Chinese. It typifies the most common Chinese character classification of "radical-phonetic" or "phono-semantic" graphs, which compound a "radical" or "signific" (roughly providing semanticinformation) with a "phonetic" (suggesting ancient pronunciation).
Dao 道 graphically combines the chuo辶 (or 辵) "go" radical and shou 首"head" phonetic. Furthermore, dao 道 is the phonetic element in dao 導"guide; lead" (with the cun 寸 "thumb; hand" radical) and dao 檤 "a tree name" (with the mu 木 "tree; wood" radical).
The traditional interpretation of the 道 character, dating back to the (121 CE)Shuowen Jiezi dictionary, was a rarehuiyi 會意 "compound ideogram" or "ideogrammic compound". The combination of chuo 辶 "go" and shou首 "head" (numbers 162 and 185 in theKangxi radicals) signified a "head going" or "to lead the way".
Dao is graphically distinguished between its earliest nominal meaning of dao 道 "way; road; path;" and the later verbal sense of "say". It should also be contrasted with dao 導 "lead the way; guide; conduct; direct; ". The Simplified character 导 for dao 導 has si巳 "6th of the 12 Earthly Branches" in place of dao 道.
The earliest written forms of dao arebronzeware script and seal scriptcharacters from Zhou Dynasty (1045–256 BCE) bronzes and writings. These ancient dao characters more clearly depict the shou 首 "head" element as hair above a face. Some variants interchange the chuo 辵 "go; advance" radical with the xing 行 "go; road" radical, with the original bronze "crossroads" depiction written in the seal character with two 彳 and 亍 "footprints".
Bronze scripts for dao 道 occasionally include an element of shou 手 "hand" or cun 寸 "thumb; hand", which occurs in dao 導 "lead". The linguist Peter A. Boodberg explained,
This "tao with the hand element" is usually identified with the modern character導tao < d'ôg, "to lead," "guide," "conduct," and considered to be a derivative or verbal cognate of the noun tao, "way," "path." The evidence just summarized would indicate rather that "taowith the hand" is but avariant of the basic tao and that the word itself combined both nominal and verbal aspects of the etymon. This is supported by textual examples of the use of the primary tao in the verbal sense "to lead" (e. g.,Analects 1.5; 2.8) and seriously undermines the unspoken assumption implied in the common translation of Tao as "way" that the concept is essentially a nominal one.Tao would seem, then, to be etymologically a more dynamic concept than we have made it translation-wise. It would be more appropriately rendered by "lead way" and "lode" ("way," "course," "journey," "leading," "guidance"; cf. "lodestone" and "lodestar"), the somewhat obsolescent deverbal noun from "to lead."
Ancient Greek philosophy
The writing of Heraclitus (c. 535 – c. 475 BCE) was the first place where the wordlogos was given special attention in ancient Greek philosophy, although Heraclitus seems to use the word with a meaning not significantly different from the way in which it was used in ordinary Greek of his time. For Heraclitus, logos provided the link between rational discourse and the world's rational structure.
This logos holds always but humans always prove unable to understand it, both before hearing it and when they have first heard it. For though all things come to be in accordance with this logos, humans are like the inexperienced when they experience such words and deeds as I set out, distinguishing each in accordance with its nature and saying how it is. But other people fail to notice what they do when awake, just as they forget what they do while asleep.— Diels-Kranz, 22B1
For this reason it is necessary to follow what is common. But although thelogos is common, most people live as if they had their own private understanding.— Diels-Kranz, 22B2
Listening not to me but to the logos it is wise to agree that all things are one.— Diels-Kranz, 22B50
What logos means here is not certain; it may mean 'reason' or 'explanation' in the sense of an objective cosmic law, or it may signify nothing more than 'saying' or 'wisdom'. Yet, an independent existence of a universallogos was clearly suggested by Heraclitus.
Aristotle identifies two specific types of persuasion methods: artistic and inartistic. He defines artistic proofs as arguments that the rhetor generates and creates on his own. Examples of these include relationships, testimonies, and conjugates. He defines inartistic proofs as arguments that the rhetor quotes using information from a non-self-generated source. Examples of these include laws, contracts, and oaths.
Aristotle's rhetorical logos
Aristotle, 384–322 BCE.Following one of the other meanings of the word, Aristotle gave logos a different technical definition in the Ars Rhetorica, using it as meaning argument from reason, one of the three modes of persuasion. (The other two modes are pathos (Greek: πάθος), which refers to persuasion by means of emotional appeal, "putting the hearer into a certain frame of mind", andethos (ἦθος), persuasion through convincing listeners of one's "moral character.") According to Aristotle,logos relates to "the speech itself, in so far as it proves or seems to prove." In the words of Paul Rahe:
For Aristotle, logos is something more refined than the capacity to make private feelings public: it enables the human being to perform as no other animal can; it makes it possible for him to perceive and make clear to others through reasoned discourse the difference between what is advantageous and what is harmful, between what is just and what is unjust, and between what is good and what is evil.
The Lankavatara Sutra points out that there are seven kinds of use of the term "empty", and in that light, as all dharmas are empty, and talking is a dharma activity, there is no way to end empty talking. Just saying.
I would add that the word dao also is used to mean the verb "to say." So there is also a connection in this way to "logos" as word. In this sense the dao is the ultimate expression of reality, i.e., what reality is saying.
When Buddha Dharma was brought to China, there was a lot of confusion created because the word dao was used to translate many Buddhist terms in the attempt to accommodate, acculturate, and assimilate the Buddhist ideas, such as Dharma, path/marga, etc..
Chinese exploration of the Dao/Tao was not inconsistent with Buddha Dharma, but was still short of the mark from the perspective of Buddha Dharma. Guifeng Zongmi (780 – 841 C.E.) was a great proponent of the idea that Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism were compatible but that neither Taoism nor Confucianism were fully able to articulate the ultimate nonduality in the way that Buddha Dharma and the One Vehicle could. In his system of 5 levels of the teachings, Zongmi said that Confucianism and Taoism were the teachings of humans and divities, i.e., for mortals and immortals, and they were consistent with the elementary teachings of Buddha Dharma, but that neither adequately addressed the second level of the understanding of the truths of suffering and interdependent origination, the third level of the nature of dharmas, the fourth level of emptiness, or the most profound level of the One Vehicle's suchness teaching of directly manifesting one's nature.
Why you do not understand is because the three carts were provisional for former times, and because the One Vehicle is true for the present time. ~ Zen Master 6th Ancestor Huineng
Holy Smoke Batman ... the easy ones first ...
Personally I feel death is likely to feature more emptiness ...
Thanks for starting Tao thread
The non-existent was not; the existent was not at that time.
The atmosphere was not nor the heavens which are beyond.
What was concealed? Where? In whose protection?
Was it water? An unfathomable abyss?
There was neither death nor immortality then.
There was not distinction of day or night.
That alone breathed windless by its own power.
Other than that there was not anything else.
(Rg Veda, x.129)
Form is emptiness (shunyata), emptiness is form.
Emptiness is not other than form; form also is not other than emptiness.
Likewise, feeling, discrimination, compositional factors and consciousness are empty.
(The Heart Sutra)
The way you can go
is not the real way.
The name you can say
is not the real name.
Heaven and earth
begin in the unnamed:
name is the mother
of the ten thousand things
(Tao Te Ching, I)
In the beginning
there was the Grand Formless Vastness.
The Heavens and the Earth
Plants, Animals, Humans
the ten thousand things
are born from It, through It, within It
complete, flawless, nameless
like The Grand Vastness
All of the world is Sacred Space
("The Sacred Space", a fragment of a poem in progress)
Tao is the way things really are, regardless of sleepy sloppy Human ideas and fantasies, before waking to the Tao.
The Buddha Tao is the real way of nature and life as seen, known, and lived by a Buddha. Yes, this is a bit circular. But no one said it wasn't (to be). Just look at an Enso.
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Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
What is @ ?
Show the @ first, then it won't be too late to define it.
What is Tao?
Show the Tao first, then we define it.
A very typical problem.
What is mind?
Find that thing first, then find the definition.
Find that thing first, then ask what it is.
Not like, we don't even know what it is, where it is, then already ask a question.
What is Planet Gerogh?
Sorry, show me that what it is first, then I tell you.
If you can't show me that Planet Gerogh, don't waste my time and your time to even ask the question, and find the answer.
What is mind?
It is actually a very stupid question.
What is Tao?
Better think what rock is, at least you can see and touch it.
Through nonconceptuality, he is immovable.
You can study this koan:
CASE 28. RYUTAN'S CANDLE
One night Tokusan went to Ryutan to ask for his teaching. After Tokusan's many questions, Ryutan said to Tokusan at last, "It is late. Why don't you retire?" So Tokusan bowed, lifted the screen and was ready to go out, observing, "It is very dark outside." Ryutan lit a candle and offered it to Tokusan. Just as Tokusan received it, Ryutan blew it out. At that moment the mind of Tokusan was opened. "What have you realized?" asked Ryutan to Tokusan, who replied, "From now on I will not doubt what you have said."
The next day Ryutan ascended the rostrum and declared to the monks, "Among you there is one monk whose teeth are like the sword tree, his mouth is like the blood bowl. Strike him with a stick, he won't turn his head to look at you. Some day he will climb the highest peaks and carry out my teaching there."
On that day, in front of the lecture hall, Tokusan burned to ashes his commentaries on the sutras and declared, "In comparison to this awareness, all the most profound teachings are like a single hair in vast space. However deep the complicated knowledge of the world, compared to this enlightenment it is like one drop of water in the ocean." Then he left the monastery.
Mumon's Comments:Before Tokusan passed through the barrier, his mind was eager, his mouth was anxious, with a purpose in his mind, he went south, to refute the doctrine of "A special transmission outside the sutras." When he got on the road to Reishu (near Ryutan's monastery) he asked an old woman to let him have something to "point his mind" (literally a snack, then something to put the mind at ease at the same time).The old woman asked Tokusan, "What is all that writing you are carrying?" Tokusan replied, "That's the manuscript of my notes and commentary on the Diamond Sutra." Then the old woman said, "That Sutra says, the past mind cannot be held, the present mind cannot be held, the future mind cannot be held. All of them are but unreal and illusory. You wish to have some refreshments. Well then, with which of your minds do you want to have the refreshments?" Tokusan found himself quite dumb. Finally he asked the woman, "Do you know of any Zen master around here?" "About five li away lives Ryutan," said she. Tokusan arrived at Ryutan's monastery with all humility, quite different from when he had started his journey. Ryutan in turn was so kind he forgot his own dignity. It was like pouring muddy water over a drunken man to sober him. After all, it was an unnecessary comedy.
Rather than hearing the name, seeing the face is better,Rather than seeing the face, hearing the name is better.But how much you help the nostrils,Look what you have done to the eyes!
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