February 26, 2005 at 7:15 pm #2946
One of the things about Daoism that frustrates me on an intellectual level the seeming lack of a clear end game. I mean, we do all this work to get to what? To use Chias silly but somehow endearing analogy, at the end of these seven formulas we will get into our energetic space shuttle and fly into reunion with the Tao. Fine. What exactly does that mean, (and why would I want to do that anyway)?
Michaels view, as best as I can understand it from the posts below, is that the ultimate goal of Daoism is to retain an individualized self while merging into the collective. (Actually, first you fuse the self together, then get into the shuttle and merge). Ones progress along the alchemical path can be seen as an ever greater merging into the collective. Michael says that that is what the collective wants, a merging of our individual experiences back into it.
I appreciate that clarification. But like all writers Ive encountered on this topic, hes still pretty vague. AND ID INVITE HIM TO OR ANYONE ELSE EXPOUND ON THIS A BIT MORE. I mean, specifically:
–What is the collective and why does it want this?
–What does it mean to merge into the collective and yet still retain ones self?
–What self is that anyway? Ones personality, individual memories, quirks?
–And lastly, WHY IS IT NECESSARILY PREFERABLE TO RETAIN THE SELF AND TO MERGE THAN TO DO SOMETHING ELSE?
Im like to spend the rest of this post discussing that last question a bit.
There is an argument made by Bodri and others that the Buddhists and Daoists are taking different paths up the same mountain (whether they know it or not). And assuming success in their practices will reach the same summit at the end of their journey.
I disagree. As Ive said before, I suspect that Buddhists and Daoists are climbing very different mountains, and will reach very different endpoints.
As noted above, the ultimate goal of the Daoism Winn practices (what Id call old school Daoism vs. Buddhist influenced Daoism) is to preserve the individual self. In contrast, the ultimate goal of the Buddhism that Plato is currently enamored with is to fully relinquish the self.
To argue that these two goals are really somehow one in the same is to argue that the people who have been practicing this stuff for centuries and competently describing what they were doing were somehow NOT competent enough to describe the ultimate goal they were striving for. I find that argument specious.
However, I also find it a bit specious to argue, as Michael and Plato both seem to do, that the others ultimate goal (preservation of the self vs. relinquishment of the self) is unattainable or, if attainable, either somehow deficient or just plain wrong.
Rather, I suspect that the Buddhist goal and the Daoist goal, while very different, are both EQUALLY ATTAINABLE AND OF EQUAL VALIDITY.
In other words, why should there be only one preferred endpoint?
To use an analogy, Stephen Hawking and Michael Jordan have both gone through significant effort, sacrifice and discipline to evolve into what they are today which is, in their particular fields, two of the most accomplished examples of humanity every to grace the earth.
So, which one of them was on the wrong path? And more importantly, which of them ended at the wrong place?
Regardless of will, training and determination, it is near impossible that either could have accomplished what the other did. Yet there is an intrinsic value to the goal that each has reached. Neither goal can be argued as being generally preferable to the other. (Individually preferable perhaps: preferable to Hawking, or to Jordan, or to me or to you, but not generally preferable to all of humanity).
So why should spiritual development be any different?
Why do we accept such grand diversity in nature, such a diversified definition of ULTIMATE SUCCESS in the physical world, and not accept those things in any other plane? If two people reach two very different spiritual goals, why cant BOTH of those endpoints be equally supreme, ultimate and valid?
Man is the only creature that can consciously CHOOSE to exercise in such a manner as to significantly change his physical, energetic and spiritual makeup, thereby evolving into a differently formed being. Why should only one of those choices, or only one of those final formations, be preferable?
I submit that Buddha and Lao Tse were each as fully realized, and as enlightened, as human beings are capable of. And that they were each as radically different in their realization and enlightenment as Jordan and Hawking.
This is all speculation on my part of course. Like all of you (even, believe it or not, Michael and Plato), I dont really know. But it makes a certain logical sense and, in any event, is more palatable to me than regulating an entire school of spiritual practice to a bunch of people working very hard to get to the wrong spot.
In sum, whether one calls it the great ocean of the Dao, or the still quiet ocean of mindlessness, my guess is that at least two mountains rise prominently from its depths.
spyrelxFebruary 26, 2005 at 8:15 pm #2947
My view is that there is a similarity in the goal of refining connection to intrinsic, primordial awareness; the energetic source of reality; and that no matter how you get to this refinement, which could also be called attainment of the philosopher’s stone, the result is the same: Skillful action in harmony with the dao/buddha nature/god; happiness without strings attached. In this case maybe merging with the collective can mean, “doing the right things at the right time because you are tuned in so finely with what everyone else is doing”.
Using my own frankenstein’s version of western mysteries terminology, I like to call this refinement the object of “the lesser mysteries”; attainment of the most desirable “operative mode”. “The greater mysteries” I like to think of as working at conscious dying, which is mainly I think what Michael was talking about in your reference. This is the main object of “initiation” in esoteric spiritual traditions. There has been a problem with jealous guarding of this angle, plus development of power structures, complicated further by the much more prevalent dogmatists waiting around with axes and lighter fluid to pounce on anyone who comes out and speaks plainly.
If one skips the refining the connection to intrinsic energy-intelligence part there are all sorts of pitfalls, if you get anywhere at all. Which is almost the same as saying, if you aren’t basically content in your own skin, enjoying a clean conscience, etc., how are you going to enjoy all those toys you’ve accumulated?
Appreciate and share your praise of both Michael and Plato.
SimonFebruary 26, 2005 at 8:54 pm #2949
The movie Siddartha came on the Sundance channel the other day . I guess the book was real popular but never read it . This character lived in the same time as Buddha but chose NOT to be his student. He instead went off with a concubine for many years and called her his teacher. He could have sat and meditated with the Buddha but instead chose the path of pleasure. Later on, he finally got enlightened while working on a river boat. Really good movie I suggest everyone check it.
It kind of got me thinking also how maybe in the future someone like Michael Winn will be considered some great teacher but some of question it and want to do our own thing..which is totally cool..instead of wholeheartedly dedicating oursevles to a path.
I am as much part of the supermarket spirituality mentality as anyone. Winn’s material is still very interesting to me as I think it very suitable for Westerners. Is it the ultimate superem path to unsurpassable Enlightenment..I don’t know. But me feeling is that it is a good “way in” as you eloquently put it..for westerners. Then again I have also met plenty of Westerners who definetly have gotten “something” from zen.
So what does this all come down to? My experience is all I have. My impression of “high level buddhists” I have met is they are very understanding and compassionte and also detached. I also got the same vibe from Winn and definetly other healing Taoists like Ron Dianna. And other teachers of mine like ken Cohen who is a Taoist Priest but also very, very buddhist and also a recognized teacher of Native American healing, African healing etc.
My conclusion at this point is why do you have to put youself in a box? Do Alchemy, Do Zen, do it all, eat and digest your experiences with it and then express it to others if you wish.
Then again, isn’t that basically what Plato has done? BUT, I think there is a difference between SHARING YOUR EXPERIENCE with other’s in a sincere way and saying NOT ONLY IS THIS NOT RIGHT FOR ME, IT IS WRONG FOR EVERYONE ELSE IN EXISTENCE.
As Ken Cohen might say, this would lead one to feel they are lsitening to the opinion of an omnipoten authority..that is..to God.
Is Michael or Plato God? Can either one really say what is the eebst path for ANYONE OTHER THAN THEMSELVES?
So you jsut have to practice it..which I know you already do earnestly .You do Chias stuff and Winn’s stuff .You do Bodri’s stuff .You call all these guys on the phone or send them emails and qeustion what tey are teaching and get a sense of who they are and the vibe and what it’s all about.
And that, my friend, is exactly what the Buddha instructed his students to do.
As Ron Diana says in his Alcehmy of the Ordinary..The past is gone, the future is an illusion. All we have is the present moment.
Anyway that’s “me” in relation to “this” in the time of now.
And i appreciate the discussion also..VERY important stuff and will no doubt be talked about for a long time.February 26, 2005 at 9:47 pm #2951
a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking post. a lot of the “ultimates” of this path (whichever one yer on) defy intellectual explanation and can only be grasped upon attainment. there simply isnt the language for it in our dualistic existence. thus there is much talk of the path, which exists here now, and little talk of the destination of the path.
despite that, there is an excellent forthcoming book which i’m working on as an editor. the author is one eric provenzano curretnly living a mundane existence in complete obscurity. his intellectual discussion of these things is the best i’ve ever seen. he also uses modern terminology to describe the advanced states and works that are very tangible to the modern western mind and avoids all use of strange sanskrit, chinese, and hebrew buzzwords. though he does sometimes refer to them to establish links for previously informed readers.
his own path was one of western alchemy. since i shared that path for a while and am now on a “doaist” path, and becasue i have also received training in native american things and am a professional english teacher, my main job is to examine his discussions in these particualr areas and the relationships he draws and grade him on grammar, syntax and vocabulary.
due to the depth and complexity of the stuff, it is very dificult and any of my input will be at best constructive, but perhaps not adequate. he’s got a website called cosmic agenda and i think he has an email address listed there if you wnat to contact him. he palns on doing a series of five books on the “great work.” very very interesting stuff.
as for human beings having a choice, i’m not sure we do. perhaps some of us are born wanting it so badly, we couldnt live a life in which we’re not seeking. others are perhaps so asleep they dont even knwo that there is a choice. ultimatley we all return to the dao. some od it cponsciously and others do it unconsciously. the buddhist method of dissolving slef is a working model for aspirants that perhaps is very different in teh end result. same can be said of daoists. winn’s explanation of self within the non-self makes the most sense to me and corresonds to the experiences i had prior to accepting him as a teacher occasional fellow adventurer.
as for the destination–its about the journey, not the destination. ironically, every destination you arrive at is just a starting point for the next journey. and the journey is never over. een after merging with the dao, you still have the wuji to uncover, and that will take forever.February 27, 2005 at 8:16 pm #2953
excellent post golden sun!
if you want a clearer idea of what this ‘one’ is that we are trying to merge with i suggest you read “the pied pipers of heaven” by L. Kin.
This non-religious book (drawing mostly from scientology, before it was corrupted and infiltrated by CIA etc, and also from other philosophies).
we all essentially came from it, we all essentially became conscious, and through our past lifes (and implanting by the horrible xenu/macarbe control order) we have lost our ability to be conscious of ourself and our place in the universe.
the taoist aim i believe is to regain that kind of awareness… thus giving you the choice to roam the universe and experience as you wish (winn made a great statement earlier about recognising your particular destiny with reference to the universe, we are here for some kind of experience to bring back to the ‘one’ or ‘tao’ or whatever you want to call it) and the choice to also end it and dissapear out of this universe to merge back with the ‘tao’.
buddhism, however, does not seem to think about this choice. they want to end the universe, and go back to the ‘one’ or ‘nirvana’ and they wont rest until all other beings also go there. thus buddhists essentially want to end this universe. i reckon they got a hell of a job ahead of them… cos a lot of beings aint ready yet and dont want to end this universe… its kind of fun existing, even though it can be tough sometimes. taoism, i think, can make it less tough and even more enjoyable.
as yatrus’ (satan/lucifer) postulate says “lets see how far we can go with it” i know this postulate has given rise to all kinds of horrible things (sex orgies, murder, violence, rape, genetic engineering, mutilation, etc) there is no reason, i believe, that we can’t use the same postulate in a positive sense. lets see how far we can take love, happiness, enjoyment and all those good things. lets see if we can transform this world back to its original beauty and take it even further than that. heaven on earth. paradise.February 28, 2005 at 9:23 am #2955
Are you sure of the reference for that book? At amazon there was one book with that title by a different author…and for $190!
ChrisFebruary 28, 2005 at 7:08 pm #2957
yes im sure of that reference and that book at amazon aint it.
i had the feeling it wouldn’t be at amazon… it’s a pretty unique book. i borrowed it from a friend.
let me tell you first that it’s wayyyyyy out there, but if you have read a lot about taoism and other forms of spirituality and then you read the book ALL THE WAY THROUGH with an open mind, it kind of makes sense in a very twisted and scary way. also don’t be put off by its founding in scientology, the author was a scientologist (no longer is) when they were uncorrupted, some time ago.
perhaps it’s not all true, but the points about how the universe started and what this ‘one’ is that we are trying to connect with is very interesting.
here are some sites that advertise selling it, if you are interested.
(i think these two above are the same place, $24.95).
the WHOLE book is available on .pdf file from here for FREE!!!
enjoy…March 2, 2005 at 8:38 pm #2959
I enjoyed reading your post here. You strike me as someone that is somewhat open minded. You ask questions that few will ask. The answers are not all that complex and no, I don’t have all of the answers. But I do know where to look. It is an inner journey. The answers do not exist in the outer. And it requires temporarily setting aside your personal beliefs, or information filters, and open wide the space of possibility for new ideas. The days of traditional wisdom’s effectiveness in the affairs of humans are coming to an end.
If I may quote you here:”In sum, external codes of conduct whether imposed on you by the Catholic Church, Buddha or your grandmother have value, precisely because they come from traditions that are, collectively, older and wiser then you; traditions that take the long view of both the human race and your own spiritual development. You ignore such teachings to the detriment of yourself and the rest of humanity.”
You take a standpoint on morals that is not uncommon. Please note, however, that humans have been doing exactly this for millenia, ie, following the traditions handed down from one generation to the next. Have you noticed that the conflict situations here on earth are not in the least diminished? The problems still exists. Traditional time-tested teachings are ineffective, as to which observation will attest. They don’t work, pure and simple.
The church, whose lists of do’s and don’ts, have modified their standpoint on many moral issues over the centuries, such as not eating meat on Fridays. The Buddah was a kind and wonderful person whose teachings were misinterpreted by those Buddist leaders that followed. The problem is dogmatism. If, in fact, free will is our spiritual heritage, then dogmatism would set a paradox in place. We either have free will or we don’t. And don’t we all like to have choices?
As for the Winn vs Plato issue, why can’t they both be right? That would depend on the definition of self. The self refered to in Taoist practice is the universal, or BIG self; the “all that is”; the “all of everything”; THE source; the “I AM”. Plato refers to the “self” in context as the ego, or little self, And there is a universe of difference. Enlightened compassion comes from the recognizing the BIG self everywhere you look.
My understanding is that while all human goals may be as different as their individual appearances, the souls that encase these temporary portals that we call bodies all have exactly the same goal: that the “I AM” may know itself in its own experience. The paths to “Who am I?”, the whole point of life in physicality and relativity, are more than the number of grains of sand that exist in totality; infinite in scope.
I could go on, but in lieu of that I’d like to make a recommendation if I may. There is a wonderful series of books on the very subjects that you bring up. An author named Neale Donald Walsch has written a series of books, the first of which is titled A CONVERSATION WITH GOD. Read it. You may disagree with the ideas presented, but at least give it a shot and consider the possibilities. There may be another way than the one currently in place. With warmest regards…
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