Tao and Wu Wei

Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The word “Tao” (道) has a variety of meanings in both ancient and modern Chinese language. Aside from its purely prosaic use to mean road, channel, path, principle, or similar, the word has acquired a variety of differing and often confusing metaphorical, philosophical and religious uses. In most belief systems, the word is used symbolically in its sense of ‘way’ as the ‘right’ or ‘proper’ way of existence, or in the context of ongoing practices of attainment or of the full coming into being, or the state of enlightenment or spiritual perfection that is the outcome of such practices.

Some scholars make sharp distinctions between moral or ethical usage of the word “Tao” that is prominent in Confucianism and religious Taoism and the more metaphysical usage of the term used in philosophical Taoism and most forms of Mahayana Buddhism; others maintain that these are not separate usages or meanings, seeing them as mutually inclusive and compatible approaches to defining the principle. The original use of the term was as a form of praxis rather than theory – a term used as a convention to refer to something that otherwise cannot be discussed in words – and early writings such as the Tao Te Ching and the I Ching make pains to distinguish between conceptions of the Tao (sometimes referred to as “named Tao”) and the Tao itself (the “unnamed Tao”), which cannot be expressed or understood in language. Liu Da asserts that the Tao is properly understood as an experiential and evolving concept, and that there are not only cultural and religious differences in the interpretation of the Tao, but personal differences that reflect the character of individual practitioners.

The Tao can be roughly thought of as the flow of the Universe, or as some essence or pattern behind the natural world that keeps the Universe balanced and ordered. It is related to the idea of qi, the essential energy of action and existence. The Tao is a non-dualistic principle – it is the greater whole from which all the individual elements of the Universe derive. Keller considers it similar to the negative theology of Western scholars, but the Tao is rarely an object of direct worship, being treated more like the Hindu concepts of karma or dharma than as a divine object. The Tao is more commonly expressed in the relationship between wu (void or emptiness, in the sense of wuji) and yinyang (the natural dynamic balance between opposites), leading to its central principle of wu wei (inaction, or inexertion).

The Tao is usually described in terms of elements of nature, and in particular as similar to water. Like water it is undifferentiated, endlessly self-replenishing, soft and quiet but immensely powerful, and impassively generous. Much of Taoist philosophy centers on the cyclical continuity of the natural world, and its contrast to the linear, goal-oriented actions of human beings.

In all its uses, the Tao is considered to have ineffable qualities that prevent it from being defined or expressed in words. It can, however, be known or experienced, and its principles (which can be discerned by observing Nature) can be followed or practiced. Much of East Asian philosophical writing focuses on the value of adhering to the principles of the Tao and the various consequences of failing to do so.

The Tao was shared with Confucianism, Chán and Zen Buddhism and more broadly throughout East Asian philosophy and religion in general. In Taoism, Chinese Buddhism and Confucianism, the object of spiritual practice is to ‘become one with the Tao’ (Tao Te Ching) or to harmonise one’s will with Nature (cf. Stoicism) in order to achieve ‘effortless action’ (Wu wei). This involves meditative and moral practices. Important in this respect is the Taoist concept of De (德; virtue). In Confucianism and religious forms of Taoism, these are often explicitly moral/ethical arguments about proper behavior, while Buddhism and more philosophical forms of Taoism usually refer to the natural and mercurial outcomes of action (comparable to karma). The Tao is intrinsically related to the concepts yin and yang (pinyin: yīnyáng), where every action creates counter-actions as unavoidable movements within manifestations of the Tao, and proper practice variously involves accepting, conforming to, or working with these natural developments.

Empty Dancecard

This morning I have been reflecting on my agenda, my diary, my dancecard.

There are only two appointments and both of these are medical, one in June and one in July.

That is the some total of the entries in the diary.

Apart from that we have to do some shoppping and take the full trailer up to the tip. No real time constraints or urgency.

It is unlikely that we will speak with another human being face to face other than the checkout people and those making deliveries before June.

I am in internet based telecommuniction with only one other being, in a land far away.

Which means I can take pictures  of the fauna.

This is one of our two kitchen-window lizards.

They get out their Ambre Solaire and bask each morning.

They are back now and will be here for the next few months.

So far we have had visiting:

A fox

A Reynard Charbonnier (fox with a blackish back)

Four lizards

3 slow worms

1 salamander

A grass snake (yesterday)

A coleuvre viperine, a swimming grass snake

3 deer

One coypu

Two otters

~5 ducks

A moorhen

One heron {a frequent visitor in winter}

A kingfisher { he is  a stunner }

Some spectacular moths and butterflies

Four trout

Loads of dragon flies

Multiple toads and frogs

A bunny rabbit

Loads of voles

A water vole

One rat

Plenty of mice

A red squirrel

A mink

We have a resident pair of magpies

And many other birds

We can hear owls and a rooster

The swallows who dive bomb the pond for a drink on the wing…amazing..they are back from Africa now..

Two random stray dogs

A scruffy cat

Oh and moles, lots of moles.

I am not quite at the stage of talking to them yet….

Zazen “Haiku”

a memory evening

forgotten in the sunset

burnishes copper kettles

holding linen gloves

performing léger de main

with destiny’s child

hidden pathways unwind

each nascent moment

ever pregnant pauses

judge and jury mind

hears not the birdsong

resenting coming dawns

a tear meanders lost

on a forsaken face

quenching desert lilies

sandcastle dreams ebb

and flow, with the

incoming tides of life

under the arch’s curve

fate shelters a while

as the earth drinks deep

raindrops softly caress

verdant carpets drawn

on canvas fields

watercolours paint margins

for the Soul to journey

a leather coracle in Dao

the profound silence of ponds

hears water boatmen

tickle trout with song

the wind plays flute

a chimney blows smoke rings

beech logs in the fire

cows chanting mantra in sheds

the prayer bell chimes

a farmer brings fresh hay

the kestrel hovers hungry

seeing beyond horizons

keen for future dreams

the woodcutter’s solitude

cuts axe blade sharp

through logs mundane

spiced wine warming

the veins of golden ore

pumped only by heart

the acrobat squirrel

crosses the swaying canyon

between century’s pylons

semaphore trees

waving long naked fingers

in winter’s winds

the point before mind

waits for the ripple of

a passing thought

stardust falls silent

for those who wait

no footprints in the snow

a match scratches a back

a hint of phosphorous

fire eases the itch of cold

moss on the trees

hiding from sunrays

growing only aeon’s beards

the wise old yews

cracking knuckles in the breeze

have watched millennia

the moorhens plink

pennies in a fountain

wishing for luck at dawn

a carrion crow plucks

a hearty breakfast

at the roadside café

omniscience counts

each Autumn leaf

the actuary of Souls

how does dharma teach

the fiery core of stars

only by feathers in the heart

what lies before now

only the present sleeping

waiting for the cockerel

what lies after now

only persistent dawns

irradiated with dew

what lies in the now

only forever born eternal

in the womb of moment

singing songs in the bath

no-one is watching

a child starts to walk

as naked as spring

a flower unfolds its flag

saying only welcome

the candle shimmers

beacons burn on the hills

eyes glisten with living love

an owl hoots in laughter

at man’s busy lives

pondering on their shadows

a spider’s web tense

sees the ants commute

yearning for love

soft down in chestnut shells

beyond fish hook barbs

cradles possibility

red holly berries

write in their font of hope

amidst the thorns

wide empty paths

leading to the cosmic causeway

where bamboo bridges flex

the Dao bends the reed

to fit the clarinet

and Gabriel’s oboe

Dao tunes pianos

in the darkness of night

a quintessence is born

a river carves Souls

whilst brooks chuckle softly

over the mossy rocks

mayflies tickle the eddies

willows bowing humble

under azure skies

scent carries fragrance

of lotus blossom

cherishing tender Sakurai

a single petal floats

wafted on pillow dreams

cotton wool soothes with a tincture

cutting carrots fine

a sliver of perfection

crisp and juicy with joy

sliced ginger pervades

more pungent than any dawn

a newborn deer forages

Heart Sutra

Perceiving that all the five skandhas are empty saves all beings from suffering.

Form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form.

Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.

No appearing, no disappearing.

No taint, no purity.

No increase, no decrease.

All Dharmas are marked with emptiness.

No cognition-no attainment.

Nirvana.

 

Unexcelled perfect enlightenment – anuttara samyak sambodhi.

 

Gate, gate, paragate, parasamgate, bodhi svaha!

——————————-

 

Maha Prajna Paramita

Prajñāpāramitā (Sanskrit: प्रज्ञापारमिता) in Buddhism, means “the Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom.” The word Prajñāpāramitā combines the Sanskrit words prajñā (“wisdom”) with pāramitā (“perfection”).

 

प्रज्ञापारमिता)

Tathāgata (Devanagari: तथागत, Sanskrit: [t̪əˈtɑɡət̪ə]) is a Pali and Sanskrit word that the Buddha of the Pali Canon uses when referring to himself. The term is often thought to mean either “one who has thus gone” (tathā-gata) or “one who has thus come” (tathā-āgata). This is interpreted as signifying that the Tathagata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena. However there are other interpretations and the precise original meaning of the word is not certain

Empty Paths

beyond the point

of primal,

causal origination,

no cognition

nor perception

 

a void awakens

shimmering the nothing

into becoming

empty and yet Dao,

no re-cognition

 

before the void

no time

no place

no recollection

or, any memory

 

wide empty paths

towards the infinite

have no ending

nor any start,

the essence of being

 

a Soul alone,

sole and soular

radiates into space

a single spark

of a cosmic fire

 

beyond the point

of primal,

causal origination,

no cognition

nor perception

 

at the point before mind

bodhi svāhā