Pre-chin Daoism先秦道家: Laozi老子 I. Laozi (551-479B.C.???) The “author” (?) of Daodeching An older contemporary of Confucius some said he lived to a great age D.C. Lau (1921-2010): the translator of The Analects, The Mencius, Dao De Ching (Penguin Classics version) Laozi was not a historical figure at all. stories in other texts (e.g. Zhuangzi) can’t be taken as historical evidence Purposeful: “Lao” (老) “zi” (子) means “an old man/ old men” In 4 & 3 B.C., at least two works with titles meaning “elder” and “older man of mature wisdom.” these works were more or less anthologies complied from short passages by an editor or a series of editors. II. The Period when Laozi was Born Late Zhou Dynasty Spring-autumn Period & Warring Period a golden age of Chinese thought: Hundred Schools Period諸子百家時代 1st time in China: Scholars/philosophers of the common people Help the feudal lords and win wealth, prestige, fame. III. Laozi’s Dao De Ching道德徑 (Classic of Dao and De) # Only 5250 Chinese characters The shortest among the few most important ancient texts More commentaries than any other classics Many passages are lost / only in fragments Maybe a development from Yang Chu楊朱’s teachings: Yang Chu said, “Even simply pulling out a hair of mine and the whole empire will be benefited. I will not do it.拔一毛以利天下不 為” NOT egoism in modern sense Yang Chu: To preserve life is the most important !!! • Living in a period of warfare • A piece of your hair is much precious that an empire IV. How to read the Dao De Ching道德經 Laozi’s Book: Dao De Ching Structure: similar to texts in that period (e.g. The Analects) How to read? To look for key concepts, and to relate them Laozi’s Dao De Ching For the sage-ruler & the common people: rules the state/ live successfully by non-interference V. Daosim vs. Confucianism Confucianism: social order and an active life conformity; self-cultivation/morality Daoism: individual life and tranquility non-conformity; a transcendental spirit Both: long-term influence (even for modern Chinese) Philosophy; art Cultivating and preserving life, on handling things Government Religion, Medicine Even Cooking etc. Daoism Laozi emphasize weakness/ emptiness無 NOT a philosophy of withdrawal NOT a philosophy of negativism/ of absolute quietism NOT for the hermit, i.e. NOT to desert the world BUT to follow “Nature” (D 25) “Man models himself on earth, earth on tian, tian on dao, and dao on that natural [what is naturally so]”人法地, 地法天,天法道,道法自然 “Wu-wei”無為 -- wu-wei “taking no action that is contrary to Nature” Or, to let Nature take its own course not meant literally “inactive”/ “doing nothing” (D 48) “In the pursuit of learning one knows more every day; in the pursuit of Dao one does less every day. One does less and less until one does nothing at all, and when one does nothing at all there is nothing that is undone. It is always through not meddling that the empire is won. Should you meddle, then you are not equal to the task of winning the empire.” 為學日益;為道 日損.損之又損,以至於無為.無為而無不為.取天下常以 無事.及其有事,不足以取天下 VI. The Teachings of Laozi wu-wei無為 -- NOT literally means “sitthere & doing nothing” “taking no action” = instrumental a practical tactics for successful action (D 3)“Do that which consists in taking wei-wu [no action], and order will prevail” 為無為,則 無不治 Dao道 Dao: “path,” “road,” “way,” “extended to mean principle,” “system,” “truth,” “Reality”… In many other schools (e.g. Confucianism), dao means a system or moral truth For Laozi, Dao is The One, which is natural, eternal, spontaneous, nameless, indescribable Dao is both the beginning of all things and the way which all things pursue their course. VII. Major Ideas in the Dao De Ching 1. Dao道(the Way) 2. Opposite Terms e.g. strong/weak強弱 3. Turning back反 4. Development & decline 5. Contentment & when to stop Dao De Ching. ch.1 “Dao that can be spoken of is not the constant dao; The name that can be named is not the constant name. The nameless was beginning of Tian and earth, The named was the mother of the myriad creatures. Hence always rid yourself of desires in order to observe its secrets; But always allow yourself to have desires in order to serve its manifestations. These two are the same but diverge in name as they issue forth. Being the same they are called mysterious, Mystery upon mystery— The gateway of the manifold secrets.” 道可道,非常道.名可名,非常名.無名,天地之始,有名,萬物之母.故常 無欲,以觀其妙.常有欲,以觀其繳.此两者同出而異名.同謂之玄.玄 之又玄,眾妙之門. (Dao De Ching 1) Dao Laozi: rejected names in favor of the nameless unique in Chinese philosophies (D 32) “Dao is for ever nameless.”道常無名 (D 41) “Dao conceals itself in being nameless.”道隱無名 nameless without names = simplicity for when names arise (i.e. when the simple oneness of Dao is split up into individual things by various names), Dao is no longer in full. Dao No name is applicable to the Dao language is totally inadequate to talk about Dao BUT: if we want to talk about dao, we have to use language -- no matter how inadequate!!! EVEN the term “dao” is not its proper/real name, but a name we use for the sake of discussing its features: i.e. the term “dao” = a name for the sake of “convenience” if we insist on characterizing dao in some manner, we can only describe it as “great大” (D 25) Dao = “nameless = closer to simplicity” when names arise (i.e. when the simple oneness of Dao is split up into individual things by various names), Dao is no longer in full. = “The One” (D 39) Dao When an individual “things” “possess” dao, Laozi’s term is that it is of de 德. The book: Dao De Ching = Text of Dao & De (D 39) “Of old, these came to be in possession of the One: Tian in virtue of the One is limpid; Earth in virtue of the One is settled; Gods in virtue of the One have their potencies; The valley in virtue of the One is full; The myriad creatures in virtue of the One are alive; Lords and princes in virtue of the One become leaders in the empire…” 昔之得一者:天得一以清,地得一以寧,神得一以靈,谷得一以盈,萬物得一以生,候 王得一以為天下貞… -- i.e. “dao” “nameless,” “One” in Dao De Ching are interchangable -- to grasp dao, also read passages with terms like “nameless” & “The One/one” 1. Dao Dao = “create & support” the myriad creatures “The myriad creatures“ = “everything in the universe” (D 42) “Dao begets one; one begets two; two begets three; three begets the myriad creatures.” 道生一,一生二,二生三,三生萬物 Laozi: dao existed before the universe came into being This is the only feature we know about dao. But beyond this there is nothing we can say about the dao Dao= nameless = “The one” = great CANNOT to provide information for us (human) to understand dao Dao To describe “dao” in physical terms/ using worldly things: (D14)“…Its upper part is not dazzling; Its lower part is not obscure. Dimly visible, it cannot be named And returns to that which is without substance. This is called the shape that has no shape, The image that is without substance. This is called indistinct and shadowy. Go up to you and you will not see its head; Follow behind it and you will not see its rear...” 其上不礉,其下不昧.繩繩不可名,復歸於無物.是謂無狀之狀,無物之物. 是為惚恍.迎之不見其首,随之不見其後. 1. Dao Even to say that dao produced the universe (D42) is misleading: The usage of the term “produce” in (D 42 ) [“dao produce the universe”] is not our common usage of the term “produce. e.g. Dao does not produce in the same way as a father produces a son Dao produces the universe only in a figurative sense: (D 4) “Deep, it is like the ancestor of the myriad creatures… It images the forefather of God” 淵兮似萬物之宗…象帝之先 “like” the ancestor of the myriad creatures “images” the forefather of God is to say that the Laozi’s Dao : totally different from Plato’s Form For those who know Plato: Plato: a plurality of Forms, each distinct in character from all others, yet there is a unifying principle: the Form of Good Plato’s insistence that of anything real we must be able to make a statement to the exclusion of its contradictory seems to stem from the assumption that the totally real must be totally knowable. Laozi: one dao, yet the Daoist takes the opposite position. Dao is unknowable. The relationship between Tian and Dao -- In ancient text e.g. The Book of Poetry詩經, The Book of History書經, The Analects, Mencius Traditionally, the role of creator belonged to tian. This was so from the earliest times tian天= the “highest order” In relation to tian it means the way that tian follows, and in relation to man it means the way that one ought to follow. dao道= “the way of something” e.g. “the way of Zhou Dynasty” Tian vs. Dao *** Dao = the creator of the universe is interesting an innovation of the Spring-Autumn春秋& Warring States戰國 Period The Laozi is one of the works The relationship between Tian and Dao In the Laozi, dao no longer “the way of something” a completely independent entity replaces tian in all its functions dao = the way of the inanimate universe & man Sometimes the line is blurred dao as an entity dao as an abstract principle The relationship between Tian and Dao In The Laozi dao replaces tian tian = no longer an intelligence and to be moral Laozi: model-man: to model himself on dao. 2. Opposite Terms in the Laozi Pairs of opposites: strong/ weak强/弱 hard/ submissive剛/柔 The lower terms: e.g. weak弱, submissive柔 far more useful/ far less misleading as descriptions of the dao Nothing is often used to indicate dao (D 15) “The myriad creatures in the world are born from Something, and Something from Nothing.” 萬物生於有, 有生於無 2. Opposite Terms in the Laozi The lower terms: negative form: preferred, does not have the same limiting function as the positive terms positive terms: limiting function that makes specific terms unfit to describe the dao (D.36) “The submissive and weak will overcome the hard and strong.” 柔弱勝剛強 (D 40) “Weakness is the means dao employs” 弱者道之用 (D 78) “In the world there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it. This is because there is nothing that can take its place.” 天下莫柔弱於水,而攻堅強者莫之能勝,以其無以 易之. 2. Opposite Terms in the Laozi (D 52) “To see the small is called discernment; to hold fast to the submissive is called strength. Use the light but give up the discernment. Bring not misfortune upon yourself. This is known as following the constant.” 見小 曰明;守柔曰強;用其光,復歸其明.無遺身殃.是謂習常. Laozi’s advice: Hold fast to the submissive and weak. BUT opposite-terms = not cyclical if change is understood as cyclical 1. a thing that reaches the limit in one direction will revert to the opposite direction 2. his precept is both useless and impracticable 2. Opposite Terms in the Laozi (D.76)”A man is supple and weak when living, but hard and stiff when dead. Grass and trees are pliant and fragile when living, but dried and withered when dead. Thus the hard and strong are the comrades of death; the supple and the weak are the comrades of life. Therefore a weapon that is strong will not vanquish; a tree that is strong will suffer the axe. The strong and big takes the lower position.” 人之生也柔弱,其死也堅强.草木之生也柔脆,其死也枯槁. 故堅强者,死之徒;柔弱者,生之徒.是以兵强則不勝,木强則 兵;強大處下,柔弱處上. 3. “Turning back”反 in the Laozi “Turning back”: NOT turning from one opposite term back to the other i.e. NOT hard to soft/ soft to hard To turn back is “to return to one’s roots (dao)” one’s roots = the submissive and the weak i.e. turn-back = back to the lower end Once reaching the maximum development, it, automatically, return to its roots, i.e. will decline. 3. “Turning back”反 in the Laozi (D 16) “I do my utmost to attain emptiness; I hold firmly to stillness. The myriad creatures all rise together and I watch their return. The teeming creatures all return to their separate roots. Returning to one’s roots is known as stillness. This is what is meant by returning to one’s destiny. Returning to one’s destiny is known as the constant. Knowledge of the constant is known discernment. Woe to him who wilfully innovates while ignorant of the constant, but should one act from knowledge of the constant one’s action will lead to impartiality, impartiality to kingliness, kingliness to heaven, heaven to Dao, Dao to perpetuity, and to the end of one’s days one will meet with no danger.” ”致虛極;守靜篤.萬物並作,吾以觀復.夫物芸芸,各復歸其捉.歸根 曰靜.是謂復命.復命曰常.知常曰明.不知常,妄作凶;知常容,容乃公,公乃王, 王乃天,天乃道,道乃久,沒身不殆 3. “Turning back” in the Laozi -- (D 78) “Straight words seem paradoxical.” 正言若反 When one has returned to its roots, Laozi does not say what will happen BUT definitely: the process of change is non-cyclical 4. Development vs. Decline Development and decline: totally different in nature Development: a slow and gradual process every step needs deliberate effort Decline: quick and abrupt comes about naturally and inexorably The process of change from development to decline: NOT a merry-go-round BUT like a children’s slide 4. Development vs. Decline Children’s slide: one climbs laboriously to the top but once over the edge the downward movement the natural fall/decline is quick & complete Laozi’s advice: 1. to holding fast to the submissive 2. to avoid the fall should one become hard 3. Especially In the times of the Spring-autumn & Warring Period: difficult to protect one’s life be submission if one is strong, it’s more likely to lose one’s wealth/ power/ life 5. Contentment 知足 & When to stop知止 (D 44) Thus, one should “Know contentment and you will suffer no disgrace; know when to stop and you will meet with no danger. You can then endure.” 知足不辱,知止不殆,可以長久 (D 33) “He who knows contentment is rich.” 知足者富 (D 46) “There is no crime greater than any having too many desires; there is no disaster greater than not being content; there is no misfortune greater than being covetous. Hence in being content, one will always have enough.” 罪莫大於可欲,禍莫大於不知足,咎莫大 於欲得.故足常足矣 5. Contentment and when to stop Only when a man realizes that he has enough can he learn not to aim at winning greater wealth and more rank, the ceaseless pursuit of which will end only in disaster.