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Switch to Forum Live View Taoism and Curiosity About the World
9 years ago  ::  Dec 19, 2008 - 1:52AM #1
Wiscidea
Posts: 2,319
Hello.

Please delete this thread if it does not belong here. My apologies if this is the case; I wasn't sure where to post my question, since you don't have an area for those who are not Taoists, but might be interested in learning more about it.

While reading the Tao Te Ching, I was somewhat dismayed to encounter a passage suggesting that we should not leave our homes, that our interaction with our neighbors should be limited to hearing their dogs barking... I think that's how it was described.

Obviously, the folks here are reaching others far beyond their valley through the internet! How do most modern Taoist interpret a passage that sounds so isolationist, a passage that appears to discourage curiosity about the rest of the world?

Thank you very much for your responses.
"Some people claim that there's a woman to blame. But I know it's my own damn fault."

Jimmy Buffet (Margaritaville)
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 19, 2008 - 3:16AM #2
MengTzu
Posts: 110
[QUOTE=wiscidea;966334]Hello.

Please delete this thread if it does not belong here. My apologies if this is the case; I wasn't sure where to post my question, since you don't have an area for those who are not Taoists, but might be interested in learning more about it.

While reading the Tao Te Ching, I was somewhat dismayed to encounter a passage suggesting that we should not leave our homes, that our interaction with our neighbors should be limited to hearing their dogs barking... I think that's how it was described.

Obviously, the folks here are reaching others far beyond their valley through the internet! How do most modern Taoist interpret a passage that sounds so isolationist, a passage that appears to discourage curiosity about the rest of the world?

Thank you very much for your responses.[/QUOTE]

I got to go soon, so regrettably I can't give your question a fuller treatment.  The first thing I'd say is that I personally would not follow every single word of the Dao De Jing. 

Secondly, I think there are many possible ways to reconcile your concern with the Dao De Jing.  I'll try to get into those when I have time =)
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 19, 2008 - 7:06PM #3
kilgoretrout2006
Posts: 202
W:

Absolutely this is the right place to post. I don't know much about "anything" and I post here. :) And that's a big part of this. Or it should be anyway. I mean partly we're here to touch base with people who share our beliefs but we should be here to exchange ideas and learn too.

The Tao Te Ching is ... what, 2300, 2400 years old? And unlike the Bible no one claims it was inspired by God. Plus there are a whole raft of different translations out there so I think it's more a case where you want to read it and then see how the ideas apply to your own life. (Which is constantly changing.)

What passage are you talking about specifically and what sort of background (If you don't mind my asking.) are you coming from?

K
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 20, 2008 - 2:49AM #4
Wiscidea
Posts: 2,319
[QUOTE=kilgoretrout2006;967740]What passage are you talking about specifically ... ?[/QUOTE]

I'm apparently referring to Chapter 80. I can't check my copy of the Tao Te Ching right now, so I tried searching the internet. I was quite surprised to see several rather different versions of Chapter 80!

Here's one ...

"Let your community be small, with only a few people;
Keep tools in abundance, but do not depend upon them;
Appreciate your life and be content with your home;
Sail boats and ride horses, but don't go too far;
Keep weapons and armour, but do not employ them;
Let everyone read and write,
Eat well and make beautiful things.

Live peacefully and delight in your own society;
Dwell within cock-crow of your neighbours,
But maintain your independence from them."

And here's another ...

"A small country has fewer people.
Though there are machines that can work ten to a hundred times faster than man, they are not needed.
The people take death seriously and do not travel far.
Though they have boats and carriages, no one uses them.
Though they have armor and weapons, no one displays them.
Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.
Their food is plain and good, their clothes fine but simple, their homes secure;
They are happy in their ways.
Though they live within sight of their neighbors,
And crowing cocks and barking dogs are heard across the way,
Yet they leave each other in peace while they grow old and die."

[QUOTE=kilgoretrout2006;967740] ... and what sort of background ... are you coming from?[/QUOTE]

I arrived here somewhat indirectly. It is a long story. But in a nutshell ... I was looking for God, but could not find Him. I was looking for the Creator, but could not find it. I wandered into Buddhism and wander back out. I recognized that I'm an atheist and probably always was. And while I was reading a book about the subject, I encountered Taoism again. Again? Yes, it is something I was curious about as an undergraduate student about 20 years ago.

So, though I'm no longer searching for a perfect spiritual home, I decided I should look at it again. I suspect I'll be surprised. I'm not the person who read the Tao Te Ching 20 years ago. I recall agreeing with much of it. One concern I have, however, is that I also recall there is more than a trace of isolationism and rejection of technology -- sort of confirmed by the quotes I posted above -- which might conflict with my curiosity and interest in appropriate technology ... no need to go into that right now.

I suppose I'm wondering how others have interpreted Taoism for the 21st century ... starting with Chapter 80.
"Some people claim that there's a woman to blame. But I know it's my own damn fault."

Jimmy Buffet (Margaritaville)
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 21, 2008 - 3:13PM #5
kilgoretrout2006
Posts: 202
Here's my take on Chapter 80. (And let's remember I'm sort of talking out my ass here.) (I blame it on the beer.) (Anyway...) Say you were going to take two weeks off of work and were going away by yourself; sort of a spiritual retreat. Chapter 80 tells you exactly what to look for. Some place that's quiet, isolated, without all the normal technology that surrounds us every day. Maybe instead of getting up and flipping on CNN or sitting down at the computer you instead make a cup of tea and go outside and watch the sun rise, listen to the birds waking up. If instead of the neighbors cutting their grass or playing their music too loud or the people in the apartment upstairs clomping around or the kids or the spouse in the next room yelling about something, you're just alone for a little while. If instead of donuts for breakfast and fast food for dinner you eat simple, well balanced meals. I think if you read Chpt 80 as a "You have to live your life this way" scripture it does sound like an indictment against science. But if you read it as a two week vacation it sounds like heaven. :) So for me it's about seeing how much of that sort of lifestyle you can (Or want.) to bring into your daily life. Think balance, not conflict.

You know you may not be an atheist, you may be an agnostic. For me, people who are dead sure there is no higher power are just as bull headed as those that are sure there is.

:)
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 25, 2008 - 12:09AM #6
Whisperingal
Posts: 25,009
Wiscidea--Hi  and welcome!

As everyone so far has said--there are many ways to interpret those words--and all the words of the Tao Te Ching. It's not the way some Christians treat the Bible--there aren't many Tao Te Ching "literalists" here or elsewhere.


My own idea about that passage is kind of like the people today who are simplifying their lives--cutting down on superficial aspects and looking for deeper meanings and activities that nourish the soul.

Does that make sense to you?

Let me know.

Sending good thoughts your way.
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 25, 2008 - 10:19AM #7
Whisperingal
Posts: 25,009
MakT--hi.

Not everyone feels that a "master" is necessary to understand Taosim.

Many people feel that they can come to an understanding of Taoism through their own spirit and efforts.

Sending good thoughts your way.
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9 years ago  ::  Dec 25, 2008 - 7:50PM #8
Whisperingal
Posts: 25,009
Don't you think that people can read the ideas and beliefs and experiences onf others and get more info about Taoism?

Besides--isn't Taoism about PERSONAL experience of nature--rather than learning or copying from someone else?
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