Taoism Theory VS Application

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f13ticket
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Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:06 pm

Taoism Theory VS Application

Post by f13ticket »

I have found the Tao to be very interesting. However, while observing the Tao Symbol of Yin and Yang, I have ran head long into something difficult for me to accept.

Almost everything said about Tao seems self contradictory as a rule. But the crux of it all rests upon the idea that for everything that exists, there must also not exist a reversed reciprocal.

For instance, there is up because there is down. There is good because there is evil. On because there is off. Everything because there is nothing. Gone further, space and form are even defined as interdependent on each other.

While I agree action tends to run in cycles; it seems foolish to me to presume the instantaneous and forced creation of interdependent reversed reciprocals for all things.

For instance, if I open up a graphic editing program and paint the entire screen white with a bucket; am I to really believe there is some black screen that comes into being in some parallel reality of nothingness? Perhaps that's a bit too literal.

'If someone falls in love somewhere in the world, does God have to kill a kitten?' What forces this balance to happen?

I guess my challenge, that I have yet to wrap my head around, is why can't something exist on its own merit? It feels like Taoism has taken something that is great for categorisation and extrapolated it beyond its bounds to cover everything. Taoism seems stretched so thin that it has to assume this field of nothingness to balance out everything that is. It has to assume this scale of equilibrium for every action.

For instance, in Taoism, the world can not ever be truly happy. For those that choose liberty and freedom, there are others that choose oppression and tyranny. One and negative one are both one step away from zero. Fools are as needed and manifested as Sages.

The Taoist world view, that I have tried to force myself to take because it makes sense in almost every way, falls apart at its crux in my mind. Perhaps I have failed to understand it correctly.

Here is were either I or Taoism fails. I believe a Utopian society is possible, at least in theory. If everyone decided to be happy and have freedom and be nice; I do not believe there is some natural "way of things," or "mechanism of things" that will generate evil and decay just to create balance. I think sadness can be beaten by happiness, idiocy through education, and tyranny through freedom. I believe the good side of 'the force' does not need 'the dark side' and can exist and thrive better on its own without it.

I admit evil exists, and typically collides with good in pattern with the Tao Te Ching and the Tao Symbol. But, it just seems silly to me (as if people are stretching what once made sense into something that no longer does) for people to try to say good needs evil to exist. Outside of terms of categorisation, no one has given an empirical reason as to why.

We do not need pain to define pleasure. For instance, sex feels fantastic. While, on the other hand, being brutally smashed upside the head by a beam of wood feels like crap. I do not need to be smashed upside the head by the beam of wood to enjoy the multitudes of pleasure sex delivers. Taoism says I do. Because, in Taoism, pleasure can not exist without pain. But, I have had lots of sex without being in lots of pain. So, unless Tao mystically tortures some person on the other side of the world every time I receive sexual pleasure to create balance; the Tao seems as much a fantasy and overstretched theory as the cookie cutter version of the Christian God.

Are there any Taoists here that can correct me if I am misunderstanding this? Taoism works perfectly as a system for experiential categorisation. But when it leaves the realm of theory and enters the world of practical application; I don't see how it doesn't fall flat. In the world of categorising all possible experiences, of course there is no up without down. There is no good without evil, pleasure without pain. But, going back to my example, there is a lot of pleasure without pain in practical application. How does the Tao make up for its apparent failing in transitioning from theory to application?

I guess another way to phrase my position is this.

Taoism (interdependent dualities) makes perfect sense for defining existence.

We think, and define, through opposites. Up can not exist without Down. This is because for everything we can think of, there is naturally the possibility of thinking of the exact opposite. In this way, we define things by their opposition. On is the opposite of off. Off is the opposite of on. Or, light is the absence of darkness. Darkness is the absence of light.

In the world of categorising all experience and all possibility; this mode of thinking makes perfect sense. Rather, to me, I don't see how anything else could make more sense than this; or could be as complete as this is. For, this way of thinking accounts for and makes sense of everything; even contradictions and oppositions.

However...

Taoism (interdependent dualities) makes no sense (to me at lease) as an accurate model for being.

In the world of thinking, inverse opposites must exist to naturally balance and make sense of being. Taoism is basically philosophical algebra is this context. 1+1=2, 2-1=1. Or, more to the point, -1 and 1 are both 1 in worth away from 0. The 'positive' polarity and the 'negative' polarity are both of equal worth and necessary. Again, how can we have up without the natural inverse of down?

But, I think it is inaccurate to simply presume that the world of being works perfectly in line with the theoretical world of defining things. In short, I think it's philosophical laziness to simply presume that sense we can not define on without off that for every on in the world we must have an equal and inverted amount of off.

That's where, in my mind, Taoism fails in application. The world is not balanced. Anyone viewing it, honestly with themselves, should admit that there is more evil, death, and ignorant people in the world than there is good, life, and people of intelligence.

Further, Taoism seems to ask as to accept tyranny, death, and evil as natural balancing mechanisms of existence. It's as if Taoism is saying, "Don't worry about bad things, that's the universe's natural way of balancing itself."

Taoism seems to define 'evil' as 'necessary evil.' It asks us to view it as natural cycles of the world. More or less 'People that have liberty become apathetic and loose sight of their history of how they got liberty. These people need to be allowed to be hurt by tyranny; because that's the only way they will learn how to define liberty from tyranny and bring liberty back. If we try to stop them from being hurt, we are getting in the way of their lesson and we are getting in the way of the greater good; and thus we are flowing against the Tao and the natural way of things.'

This is the moral failing of Taoism because morality and immorality, like all polarities, must be each other's compliment and not rival.

My point is. Pleasure can exist without pain. We probably wouldn't be able to define pleasure without pain. But pleasure could be in a state of being and could exist without pain. Or, with my other example, a free society does not need tyranny to be its counterbalance.

A free society is created as people learn to respect one another formally. If everyone on earth did this, there would be no tyranny. The idea that tyranny would just spontaneously manifest as the way of Tao (or will of God) is illogical.

The short of it is this. While we need the concept of tyranny to define the concept of liberty; we do not need the existence of tyranny to legitimise (or bring into being) the existence of liberty.

And, for that example, you can drop in good and evil, on and off; any polarity.

My view is that the people that think in dualities love how well the Tao defines the world of theory that it is just easy for them to presume (pre assume) that the world of theory accurately describes the world of being. Even though it doesn't, and they have yet to provide proof of otherwise. Further, when proof is demanded, they sometimes even fall back to the old cookie cutter stereotypical Christian stand by. (The way of the Tao is vast and beyond human comprehension. If you don't understand it. It's because you're brain is just too small and stupid.) Also known as, (The will of God is beyond human comprehension. If you don't understand it. It's because you're brain is just too small and stupid.)

If I am wrong about this, please explain to me why I am wrong. Part of my likes Taoism, at least to a certain extent. But, I can not fully embrace it currently because of this failing (or at least perceived failing) in it.

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laotan
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Re: Taoism Theory VS Application

Post by laotan »

The Taoist thinking is based on accurate observation of how things are. For example when one is drinking wine he passes through feeling good to feeling bad depending on the qantity of wine he drinks. The same, one sees that persons with good qualities of leadership are not necessary leaders. Instead persons who doesn't have these qualities are leading others. In short everything in this universe is guided by what we call paradox or contradictions. From here the Taoist master may extract some wise formula such as don't do that or do that instead.

eddie_wu

Re: Taoism Theory VS Application

Post by eddie_wu »

My undesrtanding is that if there is no bad then there can be no good. This makes sense in that good can only be defined by comparing it to bad. If there was only good then it would not be considered good as it would just be the norm!

For example, I consider chocolate to taste really good, whilst the taste of mushrooms for me is quite bad. I can call them good tastes and bad tastes by comparing them to each other. If everything tasted like chocolate however, I wouldn't say that it tasted good as I wouldn't know what a good taste was and would have nothing to compare it to.

In the yin/yang symbol let's not forget that yin has a little of yang in it and yang has a little of yin in it. I don't think we're necessarily always talking about the complete opposite or parralel realities.

In f13ticket's example the black screen can only exist if you have the colour white and all the other shades between to compare it to. I'm not sure God needs to kill a kitten for someone to fall in love or for you to be smashed in the side of the head to be able to compare th enjoyment of sex though!

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laotan
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Re: Taoism Theory VS Application

Post by laotan »

eddie_wu wrote:My undesrtanding is that if there is no bad then there can be no good. This makes sense in that good can only be defined by comparing it to bad. If there was only good then it would not be considered good as it would just be the norm!

For example, I consider chocolate to taste really good, whilst the taste of mushrooms for me is quite bad. I can call them good tastes and bad tastes by comparing them to each other. If everything tasted like chocolate however, I wouldn't say that it tasted good as I wouldn't know what a good taste was and would have nothing to compare it to.

In the yin/yang symbol let's not forget that yin has a little of yang in it and yang has a little of yin in it. I don't think we're necessarily always talking about the complete opposite or parralel realities.

In f13ticket's example the black screen can only exist if you have the colour white and all the other shades between to compare it to. I'm not sure God needs to kill a kitten for someone to fall in love or for you to be smashed in the side of the head to be able to compare th enjoyment of sex though!
Yes you must compare things in order to decide upon them as good or bad. But the yin-yang symbol doesn't mean that. It is about the rate of intermingling of the two forces and features in the Universe. This idea is one of the basic of the Taoism as developed in the Tao Te Ching...

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