A Fool's-Eye View

You will find no politics here. But you'll find some conservative taoist views here.
The secret wisdom of crows, foxes, bats, woodpeckers, wasps, mice, spiders, snakes, fools, and, actually, all living things...

And for the latest writings, try: Secrets of Life forum.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Introduction to Tao

Tao may not be defined, although people are always trying to define it.
The dictionary gives it a shot:
     ...the course of life and its relation to eternal truth.
     ...that in virtue of which all things happen or exist.

And here's a very interesting definition: 
     ...it is the open road of escape from the solitary confinement of individuality.
Taoism is easier to define, since it describes what certain people do:
The dictionary, again:
...philosophical system developed by Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu advocating a simple honest life and noninterference with the course of natural events.

And according to a crow:
Tao: That which one did not realize one was part of.
Taoism: The one thing that one should never do.
Taoist: One who still thinks in terms of labels.


  1. A man standing on the earth and look at the sun when it rises in the morning; he sees a big ball. Suppose he starts on a journey towards the sun and takes a camera with him, taking photographs at every stages and reach the sun. In fact, when he gets back, he brings so many different suns yet he know it's the same sun and it just appears. There is only one religion, one 'ism' and that is spirit, the energy, the voice inside. And all others appear like different suns.

    Any religion is a matter of direct perception of its own spirit. Whenever we use this word 'religion' , we tend to confine it into a box. People have different choices of box, preferences are different, usages are different. Whatever the 'ism' are, no one can do but to realize. But I agree certain systems are useful that help in circumstances.

  2. agreed.
    it is not the religion that delivers the goods.
    it is the goods, that deliver.
    religion may start the process,
    but the process necessarily sheds the religion.
    shubhajit :)

  3. Taoism: Do or not do, the choice is yours. Taoist: One who understands the practical usefulness of labels as a tool for communication.

  4. doing not-doing.
    but who understands this?

    there is no label in existence that is understood by anyone other than the one using it.

  5. Monica, your post is great....

    As the Buddha said in Diamond Sutra: if one can see illusion out of absolute, one is enlightened. Absolute is label. Corollary 1: without label there will be no content, and without "absolute", not even the Buddha can communicate the concept of illusion. Corollary 2: For those who are interested in Jungian psychology: Unconscious (personal or collective) cannot be manifested without Consciousness (sub-corollary: God needs man as much as man needs God!)

  6. "God needs man as much as man needs God!"
    If you value your hide, don't ever say that to a Christian :)

    Buddha would likely have trouble communicating the nature of illusion, since he has not seen it in a very long time.

    Have you ever been to a place where you felt that there was/is no illusion?

  7. "God needs man as much as man needs God"....you can check up Jung's Answer to Job if you're serious. As for Buddha's idea, you can check up "Diamond Sutra".

    Hmm, in Chinese Buddhism there is indeed a saying for those who prefer not-to-be-too-serious: "Zen-by-the-tongue" 口頭禪:)

    ...and do you mean illusion or delusion? I guess probably it depends on whether the ladies there are attractive or not...and probably also depends on the then mental state (may be the weather is a factor too, I don't like gloomy weather)...:):)

    Nice talking to you, as always :)

  8. "There is only one religion, one 'ism' and that is spirit, the energy, the voice inside. And all others appear like different suns." ...Shuhajit

    I have the feeling that this is a distinctly Hindu perspective on religion (correct me if I'm wrong). That is probably why there are (still) so many gods "surviving" side by side in the Hindu-culture of India nowadays. But I do find a revival of this interest in the concept of personal-god among some folks who are loosely defined as (spiritual) New Agers in the West, particularly US.

  9. @ Paul - There are two Gods - personal and impersonal. Majority of mankind are attached to personal God because in that type of love there is juice, whereas in a different spiritual journey where we set our mind on impersonal God (the God without name, form - omniscient, omnipresent, eternal power), we find there is no juice in it. In everyday life we see that who we love actually want to materialize into it, though we know love is a profound feeling and not elements, still we find love in some forms made up of atoms and molecules (our bodies).

    Personal Gods are important because it serves the humanity in a better way. My breakfast, lunch and supper are different, yours are different..so we all need something that suits our tastes and according to it we strive for our development.

    I appreciate your comments..you are a learnt man and I have learnt something from this discussion.

  10. Thanks Subhajit. I was told there is this famous Ganesha in Hindu tradition. Is this deity a Personal God (selected through one's family tradition, I suppose)? And are there many Personal Gods (Deities) in Hinduism? And they are NOT being chosen by individuals but "passed on" through families?

  11. There are 33 crores (3 billion ) Gods and Goddesses!!! Most of them are from Indian mythologies and ancient lore. Some are passed through families.

  12. All spiritual systems seem to attempt the same thing, which is to bond our minds to reality so we escape the tyranny of preferential (wishful) thinking, and can find beauty enough in life to give up our negativity and just do what fulfills us and, coincidentally, makes sense to nature.

    When the artist forgets he's alive, or exists, and sees himself as an extension of the world and his paintbrush as an extension of that extension, the energy and logic flows and what emerges is a representation through the filter of self but without it imposed like a tyrant.

    Great blog.

  13. Golly. Not THE Brett Stevens???
    How honored I am to see you :)

  14. So how do you find out what the Tao is, or attain the Tao, or whatever non-contradictory way there is of putting it?

  15. You're already within it. Always were. Always will be. The thing is to learn to recognize it, for what it is, and go with it, not against it.
    It's like God, only it makes more sense.

  16. I see.

    You really are a sage, Mr. Crow.

  17. If one is within it and always was, why is one to change action (by going with instead of against). Is one not always with it if one is already within, no matter ones actions?

  18. If one goes against oneself, one is not likely to be having much fun.
    Or much success.
    Or much hope, life, health, effectiveness...
    Work with what is there, to be used as one sees fit.
    Do not use what is there, to counter and to ruin it.
    Obvious, but opaque.

  19. Do you have a recommended translation of the Tao Te Ching? The most popular Amazon results all appear to be modern re-interpretations.

  20. http://www.crowfeather.net/tao/

    Based loosely on Stephen Mitchell's translation, which some dislike, while I find it to be a superb western-oriented bridge to taoist wisdom.
    Take the numbered menu on the left of the page. Explore.
    Bear in mind that there is no wisdom there: only a description of it.

  21. Thank you for sharing

  22. Is spiritual wisdom something you achieve/experience directly once in a while, or is it a constant state? Am I expecting too much to think one should have a direct spiritual insight that is beyond rationality or hard to describe yet provides some sense of truth?

  23. Good question!
    One does not experience wisdom. Wisdom may come as a result of experiencing spiritual revelation.
    Wisdom, as I see it, is what humans do with spiritual revelation, if they ever experience such events.
    The revelation itself, is beyond wisdom. Wisdom is a translation, into practical terms, of an impractical revelation. This impracticality not being a failing of revelation, but an out-of-context phenomenon.
    If you're expecting anything, you're expecting too much (:>
    This is the paradoxical nature of the beast, and of the communicating of it.
    Direct spiritual insight is, by its nature, beyond rationality, while at the same time, making sublime 'sense'. It's greatest describable attribute is its utter simplicity. In the sense of feeling ridiculously stupid for never having noticed, or known, something so obvious. Without any sense of embarrassment, either. A true 'Doh!' moment.

    I imagine what you are asking is: why can't I understand this thing?
    And if so, the answer is: understanding is not the sense to use.
    What you may seek to understand, is not something that can be understood.
    It is more a moving away from any attempt at understanding. Like sunshine. You feel it, see it, are warmed by it, without needing to understand it.

    If I misunderstood you, then I apologize.

  24. No you did not misunderstand me, thank you for your answer. I think I should have wrote "spiritual insight" instead of "spiritual wisdom."

  25. Ah!
    So now we have:
    "Is spiritual insight something you achieve/experience directly once in a while, or is it a constant state?"

    I would say that it happens only once, in a breathtaking, life-changing way, and anything after that is a clearing-up and an organizing of that first event.
    This, however, and little by little, leads to a permanent state of seeing things quite differently to the way things were previously seen.
    The best way of describing this is to say that infinite viewpoints become apparent, with none being either 'right', or 'wrong', but rather more, or less, applicable to the context.
    You may have noticed how people have opinions, viewpoints, points of view, convictions, etc.
    But almost all of them have only one per subject. As if theirs is the only one possible.
    And of course, this is not the case at all.
    Mostly, viewpoints are arranged around emotional responses, and emotions, I am beginning to understand, are actually delusions that signal a loss of balance, and of self-control.
    Choose anyone you admire, for their wisdom, and you will notice a singular lack of emotion.
    Their vision is clear, as are their responses. They are balanced.
    But most of all, their responses are adaptable, and numerous.
    The single view/single response phenomenon fades into the distance, when wisdom is achieved.

  26. Replies
    1. It's more Zen than anything else is.
      That's why it's called "Zen".
      Whatever "Zen" means...

    2. I thought Zen meant quite a few things.

      Only to realize how much of a fool I was.

      Then I realized that Zen means absolutely nothing allowing me to enjoy life life.

      Only to realize how much of a fool I was.

    3. If you're a fool, you're on your way to better state.
      It's not about being a fool: anyone can be a fool.
      It's more about knowing you're a fool (:>

  27. I don't understand how one is supposed to Understand the Tao through letting go of understanding.

  28. One does not understand the tao.
    One lives within it. Becomes it. Joins together.
    Understanding, is the bane of being.
    The idea is to bypass the need to understand.

  29. I find this confusing. Is there a certain physical technique used to bypass understanding? See... Even in this concept (that is, to not understand) I know no other way than to try and understand what you mean - or understand how to do it - and so i seem to be stuck in a loop.

  30. Well, if it was easy, everybody would be doing it :)
    But actually, it is so easy, that nobody sees it. And that's the truth of it.
    Understanding introduces a layer of separation that needs not be there.

    Do you understand the sun coming up, or simply feel it on your face?
    Do you understand respiration, or do it automatically, anyway?

    Consciousness is the drop-in replacement for understanding.
    Words will not explain it, but they may hint at it.
    The rest is up to you.

  31. For someone who talks about reality, you seem the farthest from it. Posting pictures of places you have never been, never felt, nor never smelled, to your supposed “enlightened” articles. So low, that you don’t even give credit to the photographers from which you steal for your fake-ness. Never have seen one so “enlightened” continuously talk about it, however passive it often comes across.

    You have several blogs about teaching the Tao, showing who you really are. Giving your internet students ideas of what the Tao is by stating what it isn’t, you are the furthest from it, degenerate. You believe it to be a state of mind, when it is not. You aren’t even that far in your petty thoughtless thoughts. Thinking yourself clever by italicizing certain words, which to you shows displays some mysterious deeper meaning, when it makes you actually dumber then you’ll ever possibly know

  32. Thank you Sun, for sharing your thoughts.
    I am sure other readers will profit by them.

    1. Since it interests certain readers:
      Every photo on every post, of every blog I have, was taken by me.
      I just never thought to mention it.


Comments are welcome, while remembering:
Taoism is all about balance, thus:
Politics are not part of taoism.