Sunday, February 11, 2007

Tao Te Ching -- Chapter One

The spirit that can be contained is not the true Spirit

The one that can be named is not the All


From the All emanates everything.


Separation comes from identification

Therefore, unconditioned we see the essence

Conditioned, we see the form


Knowing both states arise from the same Spirit

Is the mystery within life

And the opening to all understanding



Commentary:

(Note: If you are wondering what I am doing writing about the Tao Te Ching please refer to the February 9 post.)

Jonathan Star spends 23 pages commenting on this first chapter in his Tao Te Ching: The Definitive Edition. He believes that it is the “seminal verse” and that it “can be considered the foundation of the entire text.” The commentaries on this blog are not an intellectual discussion of the text itself, but more about their possible usefulness and application in our lives. In other words, what relevance does this verse have to us?

A principle that re-occurs throughout the text, is the living of life with no expectation. When there is no expectation there is no disappointment. When we can get beyond the conditioned way we see things, we can live life in a more unconditional state.

We are conditioned in so many ways—language, education, family, culture, religion, etc. An unconditional state is more open, and innocent. It’s a childlike perspective, where everything is a wonder, and is to be played with and explored. Where everything is a right now experience and anything can be let go of in the moment in order to give attention to the next object of wonder. Because of their openness, children are often looked upon as being closer to the magical in life—to the divine.

The unconditioned state leads us to the space that holds all things. When we able to describe such a state we have moved out of it and returned to our conditioned world. It can’t be grasped with the mind, yet it is ever present. What a fine balancing act life is!

11 comments:

Sven Bonnichsen said...

"We are conditioned in so many ways—language, education, family, culture, religion, etc. An unconditional state is more open, and innocent."

...This reminds me of Magritte's painting, "this is not a pipe." The word "pipe" or the idea "pipe" is not the actual material thing itself. Like in post-modernism (which I dislike), the distinction between the "signifier" and the "signified."

I'm fond of looking past the words and concepts that we project upon the world... The example I usually use: years and years ago, I was lugging a heavy suitcase and a skateboard through the airport. Wait! This isn't a "skateboard" with a predetermined function -- it's just wheels and a flat surface. I put the suitcase on the skateboard, and life got easier. A practical example of moving toward an unconditioned state, I think.

=====

"A principle that re-occurs throughout the text, is the living of life with no expectation. When there is no expectation there is no disappointment"

This reminds me of the Buddhist notion of giving up attachments, as I (poorly) understand it. Different, but similar. No expectations: to be open to the surprises -- rolling with the punches when catastrophe or good fortune strikes. No attachments: never feeling that your friends and possessions are ever really yours, they are transient blessings that you get to enjoy while you're here.

Personally, though, the core of my spiritual beliefs is non-entitlement. To consistently remind myself that other people do not owe me their labor or trust unless we've arrived at an arrangement by explicit negotiation and consent. It's a principle that comes from looking at the history of people treating other people as their property -- particularly within the family unit (husband-wife, parent-child, master-slave, owner-cattle).

=====

" It’s a childlike perspective, where everything is a wonder, and is to be played with and explored. Where everything is a right now experience and anything can be let go of in the moment in order to give attention to the next object of wonder. "

This is a perspective that I enjoy -- but which also troubles me. (In that good "wrestling with truth" kind of way.)

I've met people who are intent on living in the moment... Who seem really irresponsible. Who seem to rely on everyone else to take care of them, and who don't think far enough ahead to be taking care of themselves and the ones they love.

Me, I call myself a "spiritual atheist" with leanings toward Zen and tree-hugging Paganism. But I also have a great respect for Judaism's emphasis on ethics and Justice (particularly within the Renewal community)... Martin Buber, Arthur Waskow.

I long for spiritual companions who are able to balance the ecstatic heart of Rumi with the justice-loving conscience of MLK.

=====

Not that you asked. It's hard to know how to respond to spiritual beliefs. I figured I'd try going out on a limb a little.

Darkstrider said...

Ok, if we're going out on limbs and relating what this passage means to each of us....

It makes me think about the difference between what I usually refer to as the Apollonian (conditioned, rules, structure) and the Dionyssian (unconditioned, non-differentiated, primitive or childlike). Shelley and I got into a bit of a bruhaha over this schizm recently, basically because we each chose a side - I was all about stroy structure and learning direcing techniques in order to figure out how to make films while Shelley relies more on the purely intuitive approach. We both got tunnel vision and failed to encompass both realities at the same time. THAT's the hard part!

The discussion (I don't want to call it an argument, maybe a disagreement) led me to realize that both viewpoints are equally valid, and in fact must be embraced AT THE SAME TIME - something you elaborated on in your commentary Paul. In fact, in a more recent discussion I told her that I now consider it my mission in life to figure out how to embrace both in some way in concieving my films. So this comes at a very apropos time for me.

Ulysses said...

Thank you Sven and Mike for your thoughtful comments. I appreciate you both going out on limbs- it makes for more interesting discourse.

Tiffany said...

Hi.
I was searching for origins of the 'no expectations, no disappointments' quote and came across your blog.
I've read your post, but skipped the other commentary so my mind doesn't fill with more than it can take.
I'm working with pinpointing real situations in every day life where 'expectations' ruin any chance of happiness. Especially with relationships. (My current pet project)
Thank you for writing and sharing.
Walk in the light.
Tiffany

Anonymous said...

[url=http://www.kfarbair.com][img]http://www.kfarbair.com/_images/logo.png[/img][/url]

מלון [url=http://www.kfarbair.com]כפר בעיר[/url] - אינטימיות, [url=http://kfarbair.com/services.html]שקט[/url] . אנו מספקים שירותי אירוח מיוחדים גם יש במקום שירות חדרים המכיל [url=http://www.kfarbair.com/eng/index.html]אחרוחות רומנטיות[/url] במחירים מיוחדים אשר יוגשו ישירות לחדרכם...

לפרטים נוספים אנא גשו לאתרנו - [url=http://kfarbair.com]כפר בעיר[/url] [url=http://www.kfarbair.com/contact.html][img]http://www.kfarbair.com/_images/apixel.gif[/img][/url]

Anonymous said...

Hello everyone! Who knows where to upload the film Avatar?
I even bought the film Avatar for a SMS to http://rsskino.ru/kinofilm/avatar.html , the link was, but download fails, the system will boot quite strange cocoa something.
Men, advise where to normal as quickly download film avatar?

Anonymous said...

Well being that I'm young, you probably feel that a sprouse like me isn't interested. I feel a very satisfying feeling as I read through the writings of the one (Lao Tzu) who was the true founder of quantum theory.
I try to understan what he speaks of in chapter one.
He makes alot of referance to how nothing culd exist without an opposite.
I find this a true statement when I figure we would know no good without evil.No joy without despair.
I still strive to understand these teachings so that I may pass it on to other who may pass this information as well. With all your understandings please understand I'm a kid.

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed, in some moments I can bruit about that I acquiesce in with you, but you may be inasmuch as other options.
to the article there is even now a without question as you did in the downgrade publication of this request www.google.com/ie?as_q=microsoft office homestudent edition 2008 (mac) ?
I noticed the axiom you have in the offing not used. Or you functioning the black methods of promotion of the resource. I take a week and do necheg

Anonymous said...

I sell a boat-program which will help you to outwit auction and to win, initially the boat was created for the Scandinavian auction http://internet-aukcion.ru/ but now the program can work with similar auctions: gagen ru, vezetmne ru and with ten.
The program-boat stakes for you, i.e. for this purpose it is not necessary to sit constantly at the monitor. The boat can set time when it is necessary to stake, thus you as much as possible will lower expenses for rates, and as much as possible increase the chances of a victory.

The price of the program a boat for the Scandinavian auctions 20$

For the first 10 clients the price 15$

To all clients free updating and support.

Behind purchases I ask in icq: 588889590 Max.

Anonymous said...

[b]Set software LoveBots v 5.2[/b]

All for a mass mailing dating http://24lux.ru/

The script is written in php5

Features:

[i]registration, account activation
manual input captures, or the solution through antikapchu
filling data accounts:
- Gulf desired photo
- Инфы about yourself
- Diary
- Sexual preference[/i]

gulyalka on questionnaires spammer on lichku
- Randomization Posts: replacement of Russian letters in Latin analogues

optimized to work in a continuous loop
check-activation-filling-spam check ..

Updates and support free of charge.

Price per set 100 wmz

For the first 10 buyers price 70 wmz (your feedback on the software).

For shopping I ask in icq: 588889590 Max.

Scrin program:

[IMG]http://i066.radikal.ru/1002/9d/a7a68e8c96ee.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://i054.radikal.ru/1002/19/9db76967c0e5.jpg[/IMG]

[IMG]http://s003.radikal.ru/i202/1002/24/20716e86512e.jpg[/IMG]

Flooding in the subject no! Write to feedback after the purchase.

Anonymous said...

top [url=http://www.001casino.com/]casino[/url] coincide the latest [url=http://www.casinolasvegass.com/]free casino[/url] manumitted no set aside hand-out at the leading [url=http://www.baywatchcasino.com/]baywatch casino
[/url].