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Tao Thread

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JoeMaguire's picture
JoeMaguire
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Jul 18 2006 12:16
Tao Thread
Lone Wolf wrote:
October Lost - that is a beautiful poem. Thank you for this contribution. Who wrote it??

Didnt want to derail the good/evil thread but did notice the sematics of the Tao Te Ching did need looking over, especially with its understanding of harmony and contradiction.

An ex gave me a copy of the 'Tao of Pooh' like seven years ago, it took Pooh as its central character because Pooh had a laid back philosphy. The Tao contrasts itself within Chinese thought against Confuscianism, which obsessed about the past and Bhuddism which concerned itself with releasing one self from attachement. (See Vinegar Tasters) Tao sees things as good when they are in their natural state.

I recently went to the real thing when I noticed Rocker mentioned it in his history on Anarchism. Lao Tzu lived in 600 BC China the most turbulent and violent periods when the rival kingdoms tried to unite China under one state. And rather than being mystical it follows its starting point as harmony and being. Remember its intended as a philosphy not a religion.

http://www.wam.umd.edu/~stwright/rel/tao/TaoTeChing.html

For me this is equating leaders with a subtle joke about having no leaders

Quote:
17

The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.

The next best is a leader who is loved and praised.

Next comes the one who is feared.

The worst one is the leader that is despised.

If you don't trust the people,

they will become untrustworthy.

The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.

When she has accomplished her task,

the people say, "Amazing:

we did it, all by ourselves!"

And one of my personal favourites

Quote:
57

Govern your country with integrity,

Weapons of war can be used with great cunning,

but loyalty is only won by not-doing.

How do I know the way things are?

By these:

The more prohibitions you make,

the poorer people will be.

The more weapons you posses,

the greater the chaos in your country.

The more knowledge that is acquired,

the stranger the world will become.

The more laws that you make,

the greater the number of criminals.

Therefore the Master says:

I do nothing,

and people become good by themselves.

I seek peace,

and people take care of their own problems.

I do not meddle in their personal lives,

and the people become prosperous.

I let go of all my desires,

and the people return to the Uncarved Block.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Jul 18 2006 12:26
Quote:
Therefore the Master says:

I do nothing,

and people become good by themselves.

I seek peace,

and people take care of their own problems.

I do not meddle in their personal lives,

and the people become prosperous.

I let go of all my desires,

and the people return to the Uncarved Block.

Does this go with the Solidarity quote in the canon of anti-activist texts? grin

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the button
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Jul 18 2006 12:27

The Uncarved Block as opposed to the black bloc, eh?

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JoeMaguire
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Jul 18 2006 12:31
Lazlo_Woodbine wrote:
Quote:
Therefore the Master says:

I do nothing,

and people become good by themselves.

I seek peace,

and people take care of their own problems.

I do not meddle in their personal lives,

and the people become prosperous.

I let go of all my desires,

and the people return to the Uncarved Block.

Does this go with the Solidarity quote in the canon of anti-activist texts? grin

Lao Tzu is refering to a waging war between Feudal Lords, trying to put a 21st class perspective on ancient China is silly. He is employing very basic appeals to collective liberty, obviously nothing earth shattering by our standards, but find my anything written 600BC that was.

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Jul 18 2006 12:41

O_L, I believe we've had this argument once before on urban, but it beats a repeat of the animal rights thing tongue

Quote:
The best leaders value their words, and use them sparingly.

When she has accomplished her task,

the people say, "Amazing:

we did it, all by ourselves!"

How is this a "joke about having no leaders"? It's advice on how to be a leader without anybody noticing that you're manipulating and exploiting them.

To talk about Taoism as some kind of proto-anarchism is to impose modern, European concepts on a philosophy which developed in ancient China, with a completely different social context.

fruitloop
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Jul 18 2006 13:57

I'm not sure about that, madashell. Whilst you could certainly interpret those particular lines in that way it jars with the political sentiments expressed in the rest of the book. I think its likely to be a eulogy to non-interference rather than Machievellian deception.

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Jul 18 2006 14:02
fruitloop wrote:
I'm not sure about that, madashell. Whilst you could certainly interpret those particular lines in that way it jars with the political sentiments expressed in the rest of the book. I think its likely to be a eulogy to non-interference rather than Machievellian deception.

Adam Smith, Episode I? wink

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Jul 18 2006 14:41
fruitloop wrote:
I'm not sure about that, madashell. Whilst you could certainly interpret those particular lines in that way it jars with the political sentiments expressed in the rest of the book. I think its likely to be a eulogy to non-interference rather than Machievellian deception.

The implication is that the real achievement is that of the leader directing his followers towards his own ends without them noticing. I don't see how that could be read as anything but manipulative and exploitative.

E2A: 500th post extravaganza! w00t! red star

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Feb 18 2013 22:17

madashell, the book works on ironies and subtle contraditions, the book itself was actually written against the wishes of Lao Tzu since existence makes it a manifesto which is the anti-thesis of Tao. But if it hadnt have been written confused

Quote:
The best leaders are those the people hardly know exist.

and

Quote:
When she has accomplished her task, the people say, "Amazing:

we did it, all by ourselves!"

and

Quote:
If you don't trust the people,

they will become untrustworthy

Its difficult to say what is meant, we can only interpret, but to me this is on about someone who works amoung the people as an equal who doesnt seek praise, fear or detestation. And I think the sting is in the tail when its said the best leader is said to make the people say they did it all by themselves.

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Jul 18 2006 15:25

My favourite passage from the Tao Te Ching

"When the best student hears about the way

He practises it assiduously;

When the average student hears about the way

It seems to him one moment there and gone the next;

When the worst student hears about the way

He laughs out loud.

If he did not laugh

It would be unworthy of being the way."

Book Two, XLI

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the button
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Jul 18 2006 15:27

Do the ICC take comfort in that particular nugget of wisdom? wink

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Jul 18 2006 15:30

Laugh all you like, mate

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the button
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Jul 18 2006 15:30

Ta. 8)

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Jul 18 2006 15:47
Alf wrote:
My favourite passage from the Tao Te Ching:

Thanks Alf. Any thoughts on the book as a whole?

I find its subtle use of contradictions to be a more simplified version of the dialectic.

jaycee
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Jul 18 2006 17:32

Sorry - mystically merging with jaycee again

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Jul 18 2006 17:50

I agree. Hegel, I believe, recognised that Chinese thought had developed an understanding of the dialectic. Engels also recognised that Buddhism had made a contribution to dialectics. In Hegel's view, however, the main limitation of eastern thought was its lack of a true historical vision of the dialectical process. I think that this is correct, and is linked to the Asiatic mode of production, which tended to reproduce the same fundamental structures despite huge dynastic convulsions - the village community exploited by the central state remained throughout all the changes. This tended to result in stagnation and made it difficult to go beyond a cyclical view of time. But this does not mean that oriental thought simply stagnated and was indeed capable of great subtlety.

Can't go into the Tao Te Ching right now, but it is certainly worth studying, as long as it it is placed in its proper historical context.

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Jul 19 2006 09:39

When the great Tao is forgotten,

goodness and piety appear.

When the body's intelligence declines,

cleverness and knowledge step forth.

When there is no peace in the family,

filial piety begins.

When the country falls into chaos,

patriotism is born.

Throw away holiness and wisdom,

and people will be a hundred times happier.

Throw away morality and justice,

and people will do the right thing.

Throw away industry and profit,

and there won't be any thieves.

Battlescarred
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Jul 19 2006 10:02

So he was in favour of patriotism? great.

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Jul 19 2006 13:12
Battlescarred wrote:
So he was in favour of patriotism? great.

How so...?

He believes in working from the starting point of being and working from their, the emphasis that part is a sum of the whole is important. In many of the commentaries government is subverted into other things, much the same of the leaders and country.

Quote:
That which is well built

will never be torn down.

That which is well latched

can not slip away.

Those who do things well

will be honored from generation to generation.

If this idea is cultivated in the individual,

then his virtue will become genuine.

If this idea is cultivated in your family,

then virtue in your family will be great.

If this idea is cultivated in your community,

then virtue will go a long way.

If this idea is cultivated in your country,

then virtue will be in many places.

If this idea is cultivated in the world,

then virtue will be with everyone.

Then observe the person for what the person does,

and observe the family for what it does,

and observe the community for what it does,

and observe the country for what it does,

and observe the world for what it does.

How do I know this saying is true?

I observe these things and see.

wannatodiveinto...
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Jul 19 2006 14:33

Tao is the ONLY Eastern Philosphy for me - what I like about the aphorisms (developed even more in zen) that they are deliberately deployed to break up "rational" or at any rate sequential thinking and send you down another route - break you out of a framework.

The Tao Te Ching also contains a lot of practical anarchism.

Some of it can be a bit hippy dippy and back to nature and plain "be nice" also it lacks a certain dynamical element or just will and creativity - but there's much in it thats well worth taking on board

Especially recomended for people who "know everything"! (luckily none on this list but you know bad people capitalists and religious sorts)

couple of goodies:

aph 9: The sharper the knife

the easier it is to dull.

The more wealth you possess

the harder it is to protect.

Pride brings it's own trouble.

aph 10: Nurture the darkness of your soul

until you become whole.

Can you do this and not fail?

aph12: The Master acts on what she feels and not what she sees.

She shuns the latter, and prefers to seek the former.

aph 17: If you don't trust the people,

they will become untrustworthy.

aph 18: When the country falls into chaos,

politicians talk about 'patriotism'.

aph 29: Do you want to rule the world and control it?

I don't think it can ever be done.

The world is sacred vessel

and it can not be controlled.

You will only it make it worse if you try.

It may slip through your fingers and disappear.

etc etc

(There are many translations stick to the more zen ones:

http://www.wam.umd.edu/~stwright/rel/tao/TaoTeChing.html)

There's plenty of crap in it too about obeying rules, simple living, sticking within your limitations, trusting "good" leaders etc - but Hegel and Marx fans will already be in to this any way

Krossie

wannatodiveinto...
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Jul 19 2006 15:10

But i can't I have a def ect iv - I - mal func tio - must keep talkin - white noise static bizz bizz

Mind you there's actually nothing pious or even religious about the Tao te Ching - some of our marxists on the other hand....

Krossie

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Jul 19 2006 15:17

My God you have defeated me!

nice one

I'm off to enjoy a smug middle class pint in the sun

krossie

('Mr. T')

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Jul 19 2006 20:31
Battlescarred wrote:
So he was in favour of patriotism? great.

I think you have missed the point of the quote...

lem
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Jul 19 2006 20:36
Felix Frost wrote:
Battlescarred wrote:
So he was in favour of patriotism? great.

I think you have missed the point of the quote...

roll eyes Because he criticised it, right?

tongue

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Jul 20 2006 10:51

oh revol, revol, revol, there should be a taoist quote for libcom, like,

1. The more you pontificate about class struggle, the further you retreat from it.

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Joseph Kay
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Jul 20 2006 10:53

or 'the more you cock in cyberspace, the less ... '

never mind wink

fruitloop
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Jul 20 2006 11:06

Revol you are clearly a sage in your own right. smile

I reckon the only book that's seriously worth reading is the I-Ching, which in its more meaningful sense is a work of phenomenology. If you sign up to what's going on there then there's at least some background justification for the more aphoristic stuff, otherwise it's just cutesy little poems a la Khalil Gibran or some such shite.

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Jul 20 2006 11:30

Detached? Middle class?

The proof to back this up is overwhelming roll eyes What on earth is a proverb if not a nugget of wisdom? Some Eastern Bloc countries have positive proverbs about socialism, but that middle class shit aswell roll eyes Have you challenged Alfs assertion about early chinese thought being linked to the dialectic? Or that its one of the earliest examples of libertarian thought?

As you were children neutral

fruitloop
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Jul 20 2006 11:33

Detachment would be buddhism anyway. Aren't taoists supposed to 'mingle with the dust of the world' rather than 'escape the world of dust'?

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Jul 20 2006 11:37
revol68 wrote:

god I fucking hate wankers coming out with taoist/buddhist shite.

Yeah because these ideas are so linked roll eyes

wannatodiveinto...
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Jul 20 2006 11:39

Absolutely - Taoism is very much a philosophy of day to day practicality - any way can't see this going any where those interested will read - those uninterested won't!