• 0 thru 9
    694
    Governing a large country
    is like frying a small fish.
    You spoil it with too much poking.

    Center your country in the Tao
    and evil will have no power.
    Not that it isn't there,
    but you'll be able to step out of its way.

    Give evil nothing to oppose
    and it will disappear by itself.

    - chapter 60. Translated by Stephen Mitchell.
  • T Clark
    3k
    Governing a large country
    is like frying a small fish.
    You spoil it with too much poking.
    0 thru 9

    I'm ambivalent about the political verses. Telling someone how to govern seems a little inconsistent. Why would a person who follows the Tao want to rule a country?

    Give evil nothing to oppose
    and it will disappear by itself.
    0 thru 9

    Sometimes I get this. We make our enemies by making them enemies. On the other hand, isn't it necessary to fight back at some point?
  • frank
    1.8k
    Im going to give your comment some space. :razz:
  • 0 thru 9
    694
    Sometimes I get this. We make our enemies by making them enemies. On the other hand, isn't it necessary to fight back at some point?T Clark

    Thems fightin’ words! En guardè! :nerd: But seriously, I would agree that there is a time to fight. Personally, I admire the instincts of animals, who mostly run away if possible, before considering fighting. Barking or growling is also an option. I have almost stepped on skunks in the dark several times, and they ran off without even spraying me. (Thank goodness)

    I'm ambivalent about the political verses. Telling someone how to govern seems a little inconsistent. Why would a person who follows the Tao want to rule a country?T Clark

    Maybe mentally replace “governing a country” with “managing your business”? (BTW, when quoting me here it looks like I am the author of the quotes. I wish!)
  • Pattern-chaser
    655
    Taoism was originally written down in the form of instructions on how to govern. I'm not sure of the details, but that's the essence of it. Which is why it's sometimes phrased in that way. There is also an oriental tradition of saying what a wise man might or should do. And I suppose some of these wise men were rulers?

    Just my two penny-worth. :smile:
  • unenlightened
    2.9k
    Sometimes another translation is illuminating by comparison. Legge is old-fashioned and clunky, but sticks more closely to what is there than some more poetic versions:

    "Governing a great state is like cooking small fish.

    Let the kingdom be governed according to the Tao, and the manes of
    the departed will not manifest their spiritual energy. It is not that
    those manes have not that spiritual energy, but it will not be
    employed to hurt men. It is not that it could not hurt men, but
    neither does the ruling sage hurt them.

    When these two do not injuriously affect each other, their good
    influences converge in the virtue (of the Tao)."

    Manes? Beards? legacy? Perhaps it is the residue of resentment from old battles, old wrongs that is being considered. To oppose it is to reawaken it. Or as we philistines have it, 'don't pick your scabs.'
  • T Clark
    3k
    Im going to give your comment some space.frank

    Which one of us is evil?
  • frank
    1.8k
    Probably neither. It's not like you were advocating child molestation.
  • frank
    1.8k
    Throw away holiness and wisdom,
    and people will be a hundred times happier.

    Throw away morality and justice,
    and people will do the right thing.

    Throw away industry and profit,
    and there won’t be any thieves.

    If these three aren’t enough,
    just stay at the center of the circle
    and let all things take their course.

    TTC 19
  • 0 thru 9
    694

    Dang, that’s a good one. Just let it go. If it’s there and real, it’s not going anywhere. Less is more.
    But I’ve experienced how one can feel drowned out by the noise, lost in the crowd. So you amp it up, try to get louder and brighter. Who can be “on” all the time without feeling drained? Another verse says to dim your brightness, and to wear your gold and jewels under common clothing.
  • frank
    1.8k
    but aren't you the camera-man in this movie?
  • 0 thru 9
    694

    Maybe... not sure. Could you please expand on that a little?
  • frank
    1.8k
    I was just thinking of being lost in the crowd. Unseen, like a ghost. Versus being the center of attention.

    Some people feed off of being the center and others become exhausted from doing it. I get exhausted and just sit there silently while my friends talk. In the process, I become the center of attention because I'm silent. Sometimes.

    What are you doing when you become central?
  • 0 thru 9
    694

    :up: Thanks for the reply (and the attention). I see what you mean now. Boy, that’s a big subject. Probably could be a separate thread eventually. On attention and feedback, and our needs. You’ve probably heard the saying “where attention goes, energy flows”. That kind of sums it up, in general.

    Picture a little baby. Even with its physical needs temporarily met (hunger, diaper, sleep) that baby is most likely ravenous for attention. Maybe quiet attention or goofy attention, etc, but attention nonetheless. Some of that might be immaturity, but I think a good deal of it is human nature. Maybe we need less as adults, but it is safe to assume that there is a baseline need for response and feedback. Both verbal and physical.

    And this is not necessarily insecurity and neediness. One sees that animals, plants, and even inanimate things feed off of attention. The floor needs sweeping and the clutter benefits from sorting. Attention being the flow of energy, as in the practice of feng shui. (I’m still working on that clutter thing! Starting with the mental clutter :smile: )

    To play one’s part in the conversation, in the back-and-forth of life is almost a musical skill. Timing and rhythm, melody and harmony, verse and chorus. The most enjoyable conversations are like a jazz performance, with both soloing and group effort. When the vibration is high, everyone feels good. Even while sitting there quietly.
  • T Clark
    3k


    Your verse always makes me think of this one (80):

    If a country is governed wisely,
    its inhabitants will be content.
    They enjoy the labor of their hands
    and don't waste time inventing
    labor-saving machines.
    Since they dearly love their homes,
    they aren't interested in travel.
    There may be a few wagons and boats,
    but these don't go anywhere.
    There may be an arsenal of weapons,
    but nobody ever uses them.
    People enjoy their food,
    take pleasure in being with their families,
    spend weekends working in their gardens,
    delight in the doings of the neighborhood.
    And even though the next country is so close
    that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,
    they are content to die of old age
    without ever having gone to see it.


    Which I find provocative, but I'm not sure if I buy it. So, when I gain enlightenment I won't be able to go on vacation or use a vacuum cleaner anymore? I won't be interested in how other people live and think?
  • frank
    1.8k
    Attention being the flow of energy, as in the practice of feng shui.0 thru 9

    Like recognition for Hegel? Is there a master slave aspect? Maybe not necessarily in a negative way?

    To play one’s part in the conversation, in the back-and-forth of life is almost a musical skill.0 thru 9

    Requiring generosity?
  • frank
    1.8k
    That passage expresses a particularly Chinese aesthetic, or so westerners imagine. They invented the clock and stored it in a basement.
  • T Clark
    3k
    Picture a little baby. Even with its physical needs temporarily met (hunger, diaper, sleep) that baby is most likely ravenous for attention. Maybe quiet attention or goofy attention, etc, but attention nonetheless. Some of that might be immaturity, but I think a good deal of it is human nature. Maybe we need less as adults, but it is safe to assume that there is a baseline need for response and feedback. Both verbal and physical.0 thru 9

    I was sitting in a coffee shop in the town where I live. A group of people came in including and American family with husband, wife, and two teenage girls and an Italian family with husband, wife, and 4 year old girl. Sophia. Sofia spent the whole time marching around an empty table very seriously. Very industriously. Studiously. Really marching - stomp, stomp, stomp. Paying close attention. If something got in her way, she would step back, look at it, move it, and then start marching again. Every five minutes or so, she would go over to her mother. Her mother would whisper something to her. Touch her hair. 10 seconds later Sophia was back marching.

    What a neat little girl. I wonder what she'll be like when she's 30. She was out on an adventure by herself, but every so often she had to go back to the safe place to remind herself that she wasn't alone. I think that's true of children in general. They learn from their parent's attention that the world cares about them. That they belong here. As they get older, they need to be reminded less often because it gets built into who they are.

    To me, that is what attention is for. It reminds us the world cares about us, is interested in us. We belong here.
  • 0 thru 9
    694
    Like recognition for Hegel? Is there a master slave aspect? Maybe not necessarily in a negative way?frank

    Sorry, not sure what you were saying here. Not too familiar with Hegel. Possibly elaborate?

    Requiring generosity?frank
    Definitely. But I imagine it is possible to get more out of it than what is given. But everyone involved has to be contributing. Anyone holding out is like a knot in the garden hose, restricting the flow.


    Good stuff, thanks for sharing it. The particular situation and person mirrors the universal forms, one could say.
  • frank
    1.8k
    Sorry, not sure what you were saying here. Not too familiar with Hegel. Possibly elaborate?0 thru 9

    My understanding isnt deep. It's like this.

    A sense of self could be a by-product of receiving attention. Attention is like food to a developing ego. An ego that doesn't get a normal amount of attention becomes... what?
  • unenlightened
    2.9k
    A sense of self could be a by-product of receiving attention. Attention is like food to a developing ego. An ego that doesn't get a normal amount of attention becomes... what?frank

    Narcissistic. Trying to parent itself, attending to itself, it becomes both hyper-sensitive and vacuous. Ever-demanding, and ever dissatisfied when it gets what it demands, because while has to attend to its own needs, it not only cannot fulfil them, it cannot even properly identify them.
  • frank
    1.8k
    I think you just described me. It looks kind of fucked up laid out so simply.
  • 0 thru 9
    694
    My understanding isnt deep. It's like this.

    A sense of self could be a by-product of receiving attention. Attention is like food to a developing ego. An ego that doesn't get a normal amount of attention becomes... what?
    frank

    :up: Ok, I see what you were referring to. Your food analogy is near perfect. The psyche/ego doesn’t simply enjoy attention or energy or feedback, it radically needs it and is constructed by it. Just as the body uses food as fuel, but is also built from food. Like a starving person eating tree bark or insects, sometimes you just take what you can get. @unenlightened‘s description of the pathology is it, in a nutshell. He probably described the angst or struggle of the greater majority of individuals.

    And like with many things in life, there is some kind of ideal floating balance point, some possible “golden mean”. Too much attention, pressure, expectations, and praise can be damaging, though maybe not in exactly the same way as deprivation. (More or less, the stage-parent phenomenon). The person with a deficiency or toxic excess of attention early in life may need to deal with it eventually. Possibly in a crisis, depression, or breakdown scenario like has been the topic of several threads, and which was discussed in this post. One way or another, willingly or not, the need or imbalance will rise from the subconscious and demand attention and resolution. This seems to be approaching the territory of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell perhaps.
  • unenlightened
    2.9k
    Don't panic. Student doctors often think they have whatever illness they are studying. Presumably because we're all self-obsessed narcissists to a degree. It's kind of like astrology character descriptions, so vague and universal that anyone can identify with them.
  • frank
    1.8k
    I wonder what that implies about hermits. Maybe the hermit has become her own audience.


    Ok. I'd rather not be overly insane. Just averagely.
  • T Clark
    3k
    And like with many things in life, there is some kind of ideal floating balance point, some possible “golden mean”. Too much attention, pressure, expectations, and praise can be damaging, though maybe not in exactly the same way as deprivation. (More or less, the stage-parent phenomenon). The person with a deficiency or toxic excess of attention early in life may need to deal with it eventually. Possibly in a crisis, depression, or breakdown scenario like has been the topic of several threads, and which was discussed in this post. One way or another, willingly or not, the need or imbalance will rise from the subconscious and demand attention and resolution. This seems to be approaching the territory of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell perhaps.0 thru 9

    To take it back to the Tao te Ching in Verse 30:

    Because he believes in himself,
    he doesn't try to convince others.
    Because he is content with himself,
    he doesn't need others' approval.
    Because he accepts himself,
    the whole world accepts him.
  • frank
    1.8k
    Stop thinking, and end your problems.
    What difference between yes and no?
    What difference between success and failure?
    Must you value what others value, avoid what others avoid?
    How ridiculous!

    From 20. I wonder how the rhythm of it feels in Chinese.
  • frank
    1.8k
    44
    Fame or integrity: which is more important?
    Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
    Success or failure: which is more destructive?

    If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never truly be fulfilled.
    If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself.
    Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.

    When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.
  • BrianW
    504


    So, when I gain enlightenment I won't be able to go on vacation or use a vacuum cleaner anymore? I won't be interested in how other people live and think?T Clark

    I think when you're enlightened you get the right perspective.

    They enjoy the labor of their hands
    and don't waste time inventing
    labor-saving machines.
    T Clark

    They realize machines do not do any work. Rather, humans use them to work more efficiently, instead of replacing human labour.

    Since they dearly love their homes,
    they aren't interested in travel.
    T Clark

    And even though the next country is so close
    that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,
    they are content to die of old age
    without ever having gone to see it.
    T Clark

    When enlightened, they realize that the grass is neither greener nor browner on the other side; and that what they would seek elsewhere can be easier found within their encompass. That is, they develop the proper appreciation for life and its providence.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.