Lao Tzu

A little Tao for y’all

If you overesteem great men,
people become powerless.
If you overvalue possessions,
people begin to steal. The Master leads
by emptying people’s minds
and filling their cores,
by weakening their ambition
and toughening their resolve.
He helps people lose everything
they know, everything they desire,
and creates confusion
in those who think that they know. Practice not-doing,
and everything will fall into place.

I’m pretty cool with the old man who walked away from what was modern to him. Someone convinced him to write down his philosophy before he left, so the legend goes. I’m sure it was just a way for some manipulative jerk to claim wisdom he didn’t have. This passage begins with “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao”, which is one of that last really true statements in all of the works of Lao Tzu. But, people insist on taking that Tao that is told and cherry picking it, like “Practice not-doing”. It’s a great one when someone is doing something you don’t like. You sound wise, when really you are saying STFU.

Let me be very clear, the person quoting Lao Tzu is saying STFU. No wise ancient philosopher said that.

I’m pretty cool with the old man who walked away from what was modern to him. - Lausten
What he walked away from was not modernity but human strife. His mode of transport then was riding a buffalo - not an American bison even but an Asia bovine used for tilling rice fields.
Someone convinced him to write down his philosophy before he left, so the legend goes. I’m sure it was just a way for some manipulative jerk to claim wisdom he didn’t have.
The fact is, there never was an old man with a philosophy. The received texts, derived from ancient manuscripts discovered in tombs and other archaeological sites, were put together by scholars who are still debating on what it all means.
This passage begins with “The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao”, which is one of that last really true statements in all of the works of Lao Tzu. But, people insist on taking that Tao that is told and cherry picking it, like “Practice not-doing”. It’s a great one when someone is doing something you don’t like. You sound wise, when really you are saying STFU.
The Tao that can be told is neither eternal nor Chinese but thoroughly western and very American. A literal translation of classical Chinese would be unintelligible. Your version of Chapter 3 is a western interpretation. It is not what the Chinese text says, and somewhat different from the version below by Gia Fu Feng. He was probably high on weed in California when he penned it:

Not exalting the gifted prevents quarreling.
Not collecting treasures prevents stealing.
Not seeing desirable things prevents confusion of the heart.

The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.
If men lack knowledge and desire, then clever people will not try to interfere.
If nothing is done, then all will be well.

The fact is, there never was an old man with a philosophy. -- Sree
That's what I said.
A literal translation of classical Chinese would be unintelligible --Sree
When you can't respond to the point, pretend you know Chinese. Classic Sree move there.
That’s what I said. - Lausten
You said it was a legend about an old man with a philosophy. This is western egoistic focus of the individual. In the east, it's the collective. No Chinaman wrote the Tao Te Ching the way Shakespeare wrote Twelve Nights. Chinese thought is the product of the culture and not the egoistic deliberations of indiviuals.
When you can’t respond to the point, pretend you know Chinese. Classic Sree move there.
And what point is that? I do understand and speak colloquial Chinese. But a stanza of classical Chinese is something else. Look at this stanza from Gia Fu Feng:
The wise therefore rule by emptying hearts and stuffing bellies, by weakening ambitions and strengthening bones.
Your version says "emptying people's minds and filling their cores, weakening ambitions and strengthening resolve" because "stuffing bellies and strengthening bones" make no sense to the white man. And yet, our Department of State would strut beyond our shores imposing liberal values on all and sundry to protect human rights.

 

It’s hard to talk with you Sree. I don’t think you understand my use of “legend”

It’s hard to talk with you Sree. - Lausten
Try, my friend.
I don’t think you understand my use of “legend”
Perhaps, I wasn't being clear. Lao Tzu and Confucius are manufactured by the white man. Cultural appropriation is one thing, but to take something not yours and act like God to fudge it in your own image is worse than intellectual property theft. China's knock offs may be poor in quality; at least, they look like the American originals.

Jane Goodall is white supremacy in action. She speaks for the chimps the way a professor in comparative philosophy at Boston University speaks for the Chinese.

Lao Tzu and Confucius are manufactured by the white man.
The Tao was written in the 6th century BC. How did the "white people" get there and manufacture it?
The Tao was written in the 6th century BC. How did the “white people” get there and manufacture it? - Lausten
The white man started manufacturing Chinese philosophy after Matteo Ricci arrived at Macau in 1582. This Jesuit mastered classical Chinese or so he thought. Anyway, he cooked up his version of the Chinese classics and transmitted them to the west. Fast forward, and we Americans now have the Tao of Pooh which is like cowboy boots compared to shoes for the "lotus feet" of Chinese women.

White people did not create ancient Chinese thought. The American version of the Tao was not written by the Chinese in the 6th century BC. Let me put it this way. There is no shared reality as suggested by Xain.

1582
1582? Really. that's your answer. And no one in 460 years, including 100 years of air travel, has come along and said, "ummm, that word there, you aren't translating it right."

This started with you misquoting someone, and making some claim about the nature of reality or something. Let’s not stray too far from that. I’m not interested in your analysis of Sino-European relations. It doesn’t change your poor application of philosophies. Defend your idea that doing nothing is somehow a smart move, and we’ll see where that goes.

1582? Really. that’s your answer. And no one in 460 years, including 100 years of air travel, has come along and said, “ummm, that word there, you aren’t translating it right.” - Lausten
Matteo Ricci was the first white man to master the Chinese language well enough to debate religious philosophy with the Mandarins, those Chinese intellectuals at the imperial court. There is no translating it right. Do you realize that Lao Tzu's philosophy is only studied by academics and read by guys like you in the west? No one in China reads it because there is no watered-down version of the Classics for general consumption. I hired a well-known native Chinese who worked as a radio news broadcaster to recite all 81 Chapters of the Tao Te Ching. I wanted an audio recording in perfectly pronounced words in Mandarin. She had great difficulty despite being highly educated. She couldn't read many of the stanzas because she couldn't figure out what the hell they meant. Translation into English? Yeah, right. You have no idea what a dumb culture we have. And I don't mean our cowboy culture. I am talking about our Greco-Roman origin.

 

Still avoiding my actual point and now you’re trying to hope that I’ll just be stupid enough to believe your story.

https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/taoism.htm

 

 

Still avoiding my actual point and now you’re trying to hope that I’ll just be stupid enough to believe your story. - Lausten
Your link is from a tourist agency. A more credible authority to cite in defense of your position and affirm my stupidity would be a widely respected academician like Professor Tu Weiming who taught Chinese Classics at Harvard and later at Peking University. He expounds the western version of Chinese philosophy and asserts that Confucius, a contemporary of Lao Tsu, was not a legendary but a historical figure. Professor Tu’s proficiency would be equivalent to that of the Mandarin, a scholar who aced the imperial exam at the academic level of a PhD in the Classics and applied the wisdom therein to the practice of statecraft (i.e. public administration).

Do you believe that Professor Tu Weiming understands ancient Chinese philosophy? What about the Mandarins, those learned advisors to the Chinese Emperors who, one after the other, ruled China through the centuries to eventual ruin? How did that happen if they had access to the wisdom locked in the ancient Classics?

Think, man. You are the one who reads and is stuffed with learning. I drink whiskey.

Do you believe that Professor Tu Weiming understands ancient Chinese philosophy? -- Sree
I don't know who that is and I have never evaluated his work. It's the not the question I opened this thread with. It doesn't support your argument to list names of professors. Knowing names of professors doesn't tell me that you understand the philosophy being discussed. The philosophy being discussed doesn't depend on Lao Tzu being a real person, or on how the Tao Te Ching was translated. Billions of people have lived and died since then and have contributed to the validation of the ideas. I'm discussing the ideas, not trying to invalidate the particular words based on how they came to appear on this page.

Ironically, by attempting to invalidate the Americanization of the ancient scripture, you’re supporting my original point, that picking out a phrase like “practice not-doing” is a gross oversimplification of a tradition of recognizing balance, seeing strength in all people not just the ones with the most possessions, the idea of questioning everything you know.

I don’t know who that is and I have never evaluated his work. It’s the not the question I opened this thread with. It doesn’t support your argument to list names of professors. Knowing names of professors doesn’t tell me that you understand the philosophy being discussed. - Lausten
I assure you, I do. Not because I can name professors but despite their annoyance with the questions I confronted them with, in my debates with them.
The philosophy being discussed doesn’t depend on Lao Tzu being a real person, or on how the Tao Te Ching was translated. Billions of people have lived and died since then and have contributed to the validation of the ideas. I’m discussing the ideas, not trying to invalidate the particular words based on how they came to appear on this page.
The ideas you want to discuss is the problem. They are the stuff of superstition that comes from the validation of ideas accepted by billions of people to live in the misery those ideas caused. The Chinese people were really messed up by those ideas by the time the British moved in to push their Emperor around and took Hong Kong. The humiliation still rankles Xi Jinping today every time our politicians foment riots there and our Navy test his patience in the South China Sea. Anyway, Mao Tze Tung ripped those ideas out with extreme brutality when he adopted Marxism and launched the Cultural Revolution. There were no two ways about that. Today, China is westernized and thoroughly sanitized of ideas harmful to the motherland.

 

The ideas you want to discuss is the problem. -- Sree
There's nothing in your post to tell me what you think about the idea that I have presented 3 or 4 times now. What in the passage is superstition? What is the flaw in the philosophy? What do you think the passage means? You have answered none of those. You just keep claiming to know something, but no one knows what it is.
There’s nothing in your post to tell me what you think about the idea that I have presented 3 or 4 times now. - Lausten
I responded every time but you don’t seem to get it.
What in the passage is superstition?
Which passage? Yours or Gia Fu Feng’s. Both are nonsensical to me. You tell me what your passage means to you and we can check your idea out to see if it is delusory.
What is the flaw in the philosophy? What do you think the passage means? You have answered none of those.
What philosophy? If you are talking about an ancient Chinese philosophy hidden in the western translation of the Tao Te Ching, I can tell you outright that it is not there. It is not even there in the Chinese texts. However, there are many Taoist philosophies in both the east and the west today. Each of them is an ideology formed to validate a superstition for serving a purpose. Easterners are mainly into religion, witch-doctoring, and spiritual powers. Mao ripped them out. Westerners, mainly Americans, need the Tao to validate atheism and its godless secular humanistic values.

Look, the Chinese Classics are not Dale Carneigie self-help books. They are oracles; not the kind where a diety like a Lao Tsu speaks to you. They are inscrutable and compel you to look within for an answer. Seems like even the Chinese couldn’t do it and had decided to go west. The old man didn’t hold his breath. He wrote the Tao and walked away.

I can tell you outright
hmm
Each of them is an ideology formed to validate a superstition for serving a purpose
That one's universal, in this country as much as any other.
godless secular humanistic values
I find humanism and Earth Centrism way more rationally and spiritually valuable than obsessing over a fanciful God - who in fact is too often simply a reflection of self-serving Egos run amok.
What philosophy? -- Sree
You are trolling. You are not responding to the questions or points in the thread. You are repeating yourself. I started this thread as a response to a Tao quote you made, so how about you defend what you said? that's the "philosophy" I'm attempting to discuss.

Last week, in “World’s Most Admired People”, post 336163, you said,

“Paradise is heaven on Earth where there is no doing and yet everything is done. (Tao Te Ching)”

I don’t know what translation that came from or if you just made it up. You never defended it. What does it mean to you?

 

That one’s universal, in this country as much as any other. - @citizenschallengev3
In this country, “Americanization” of the Tao serves liberal progressivism’s need to displace Christianity. American Taoists now harbor the superstition that old man Lao Tsu did preach a philosophy that inspired a
tradition of recognizing balance, seeing strength in all people not just the ones with the most possessions, the idea of questioning everything you know. - Lausten
“Paradise is heaven on Earth where there is no doing and yet everything is done. (Tao Te Ching)”- Sree

I don’t know what translation that came from or if you just made it up. You never defended it. What does it mean to you? – Lausten


That wasn’t a translation. I was coining an aphorism distilled from my reading of Gia Fu Feng’s Taoist philosophy. He was feeding the hippies in California with food for thought. Those lazy louts have now bred a generation of idiots out to destroy the USA.

China is a nation of hardworking people churning out cheap goods for Walmart. Do you think they recognize balance and see strength in all people not just the ones with the most possessions? They are a nation of people who love money more than American capitalists. They are going to eat our lunch if Trump doesn’t stand in their way.