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Re: [TaoTalk] "Non-being" in the Tao Te Ching

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  • Thomas
    ... De : Wulf Dieterich ...the usual translations of wu ...like non-being , nothingness, void, emptiness,... aren t they misleading? imo, ...we should try to
    Message 1 of 48 , Oct 1 5:07 AM
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      ----- Message d'origine -----
      De : Wulf Dieterich
      ...the usual translations of wu ...like "non-being", nothingness, void,
      aren't they misleading?
      imo, ...we should try to find a better rendition of this great phenomenon
      "wu" ...
      ZEN has tried to express it in spontaneity ... paradoxons...
      Yes, Angus Graham, in Disputers of the Tao, points out that the first
      chapter ot the TTC works like koans do.
      "The approach of the Lao-Tzu is to lay out couplets which, juxtaposed as
      parallels, imply both that there is and that there is not a constant Way
      with a constant name, and then try out the alternatives in turn. Call the
      Way nameless, and it is put back to the time before there were things
      distinguished by names; name it, and it becomes itself a thing out of which
      all others have grown."

      "What has no name is the beginning of heaven and earth,
      What has a name is the mother of the myriad of things."

      "Having tried both sides of the dichotomy the text now throws it aside: to
      name as 'nameless' is itself to divide named and nameless in what is
      ultimately the same. 'Call them the same, the Dark', use a new name to
      propel you towards the darkness beyond naming, and momentarily discard the
      'Way' itself for the 'gate' out of which things come in the mystery of the
      commencement of distinctions."

      "The two have the same source but different names:
      Call it the same, the 'Dark'.
      The darkest of the dark
      Is the gate of the sublime everything." (transl. Graham)

      As to non-being (wu), it's the Tao in its nameless aspect. But it's not the
      absolute opposite of "being" like in Greek philosophy. Fung Yu-Lan writes:
      "Non-being is not a mere zero or nothingness. For how could Tao be
      nothingness when at the same time it is the all-embracing principle by which
      all things are produced?"

      And this nameless, non-being aspect of Tao produces Being = the named = the
      one. That one goes on to produce the 2 (heaven/earth or yang/yin) and then
      the 10K.
      (Yet Tao is still present in the 10K through "Te", its power.) This Being,
      one, is, according to Anne Cheng, the "yuan qi", the primal ch'i, the
      original breath, that then splits into yang and yin, etc...

      "From Tao [non-being] there comes one. [Being]
      From one [primal ch'i] there comes two.[yang/yin]
      From two there comes three. [yang/yin/transformation]
      From three comes all things.[10K]" TTC 42

      And TTC 40:
      "All things in the world come into being from being [the primal ch'i], and
      being comes into being from non-being [the nameless tao]"

      If I try to imagine it, there first is the 10K, trees, people... and they
      are made of yin and yang ch'i (breath) which in turn originate from a single
      "primal ch'i" (being, the One). Behind that there is pure unnameable
      mystery, that we could call Tao (nameless non-being), but Tao is a name that
      isn't really a name, because there is no thing to name.

      All this is indeed a super-koan...
      My Daoist page:
    • Fred Runk
      ... The possibilities for prompts are endless. Each year I begin a new translation of the TTC, read one chapter a day, and write whatever, if anything, comes
      Message 48 of 48 , Oct 6 11:08 AM
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        At 01:45 PM 10/6/00 -0000, you wrote:

        >Fred, I think that is an excellent way to spark a journal! Will
        >remember it if I decide to start keeping one.

        The possibilities for prompts are endless. Each year I begin a new
        translation of the TTC, read one chapter a day, and write whatever, if
        anything, comes to mind.

        >Every once in awhile I run across a poem or a passage in a book that
        >does this to me. A few years back a person sent me a picture that
        >had this effect on me. It was a shot of two starfish, lying on the
        >sun-drenched sand, with just the tips of one of each of their 'stars'
        >touching each other.

        I also haunt used book stores and buy the small postcard size art books
        with prints or reproductions. I cut one out each day, tape it to the page
        of the journal, and write about it.


        April's air stirs in
        Willow leaves...A butterfly
        Floats and balances.
        - Basho -

        email: fredr@...
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