« Oh, no! Claiming Taoist enlightenment, I'm asked to define it | Main | Abandon all hope... and be more active »

May 09, 2015


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

So to summarise and I quote what the philosophical Taoist believes is:

"If you can conceive of an unnameable infinite power (call it Tao) that has always existed, that powers the universe, holds molecules together, makes the flowers bloom, birds sing, your heart beat, allows some things to evolve while others don't, allows the sun to shine and rain to fall on both the good and the evil, all without putting any demands on the recipients or having the need to be worshiped or even acknowledged... then you might be a Taoist. (Verse 25 & 34)"

An infinite, eternal, omnipresent power - he calls it Tao, others may call it God.

The bit I dont is that this Tao allows some things to evolve while other don't - which suggests omnipotence as well.

I also am not sure I really grasp this 'I'm spiritual, not religious' mantra.

You either believe in the existence of supernatural powers or spirit or you don't. An atheist does not. At least their position is crystal clear and they nail their colours to the mast. The others sound like religious people who try pretend they are more rational - rather just say, I believe in spirit.

George, philosophical Taoists don't believe in supernatural powers or spirit. They are naturalists, just as most scientists are.

Here's the thing, as I see it:

There is no "given" to the universe. There is no single objective way of looking upon it. Everybody views the universe in different ways. When a number of people look upon the universe in a certain way, it may get the name of an "ism."

Like Taoism. Or humanism. Or atheism. Or theism. Or existentialism. Regardless, everybody has a way of looking at the universe, even it is unique to themselves. You, for example, could be a "Georgeist."

So it comes down to how useful and true to reality our "isms" are. In my experience, Taoism is quite useful and true to reality. But this certainly can be debated.

That's a big part of what makes life fun! Debating!

Yes Brian - I think there is something to the natural approach that Taoism takes - but there seem to be done pretty fine distinctions when one gets to its heart - the Tao - what is it?

And taoists talk about something ehich cannot be described or conceptualised or proven - and that is all fine

However, if you give Taoism credit, with such wooly underpinnings, why not God or the One or Spirit or the Word or the Shabd?

And then the question is whether all the respective 'practices' or 'ways' of living, be it tau chi, chopping wood, meditation, prayer, yoga or farting after a sip of wine are the respective religious practices of Trying to connect to or glimpse this ultimate Spirit

The atheist says there is no central power - something comes from nothing, there is no power that makes things evolve, it just does.

Atheism is therefore fundamementslly distinct from philosophical Taoism.

I'm not sure that I am an atheist, but they do not believe in anything spiritual nor any underlying flow.

Why are people so insistent upon defining themselves or others, very fixed, either this or that, black or white thinking.

A couple of Alan Watts quotes:

"Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth"

and one of my favourites:

"I owe my solitude to other people"

TAO you are Sir

You are everything
I proved that here some time ago

I can"t even wish :
"May Your Divine amnesia be not longer than is best for You"
because it will be no longer :-)

Philosophical Taoism points to a way of understanding existence as a interconnected whole. This is opposed to a strictly dualistic approach which envisages entities as somehow independent and inherently existing. This holistic sensibility comes naturally to anyone who as begun to sense the incoherence of the body-mind as the free willing agent of experience.

A freely willed event would, in effect, be a first cause - but we can see clearly that there is really no reason to suppose that that might be the case (for me that would be a definition of supernatural.) The events that arise as apparent willed events are emergent from complex conditions.

This ever-emergent web of complex conditions which gives rise to events could be called nature or the universe (I read somewhere that the literal meaning of 'universe' is undivided turning.) Whatever we call it, it is (and may forever be) ultimately mysterious. Science carves it up and attempts to make sense of the component parts but the event of existence itself is beyond the reach of the currently evolved mammalian brain and its applications. As the science writer Jim Baggot says: "Reality is at heart a metaphysical concept - it is, quite simply, beyond physics and therefore beyond science."

As for atheism, an atheist does not believe in gods and deities and other supernatural 'explanations' for existence and its workings. But it does not follow that the atheist can claim an understanding of things beyond its current cognition.

I feel sometimes saying :"Grass might be green"
or "I like water"

so many , after the blue & yellow issue ,
drowning in the proton vs neutron business


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.