Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What Tao Sounds Like

Play this musical video...




Dao (Tao) ·De (Te) ·Wuji ·Taiji ·Yin-Yang ·Wu Xing ·Qi ·Neidan ·Wu wei
Laozi (Tao Te Ching) ·Zhuangzi ·Liezi ·Daozang
Three Pure Ones ·Yu Huang ·Guan Shengdi ·Eight Immortals ·Yellow Emperor ·Xiwangmu ·Jade Emperor ·Chang'e ·Other deities
Laozi ·Zhuangzi ·Zhang Daoling ·Zhang Jue ·Ge Hong ·Chen Tuan
Tianshi Dao ·Shangqing ·Lingbao ·Quanzhen Dao ·Zhengyi Dao ·Wuliupai
Sacred sites
Grotto-heavens ·Mount Penglai
Tao or Dao (, Pinyin: About this sound Dào ) is a Chinese word meaning 'way', 'path', 'route', or sometimes more loosely, 'doctrine' or 'principle'. Within the context of traditional Chinese philosophy and religion, Tao is a metaphysical concept originating with Laozi that gave rise to a religion (Wade-Giles, Tao Chiao; Pinyin, Daojiao) and philosophy (Wade-Giles, Tao chia; Pinyin, Daojia) referred to in English with the single term Taoism. The concept of Tao was later adopted in Confucianism, Chán and Zen Buddhism and more broadly throughout East Asian philosophy and religion in general. Within these contexts Tao signifies the primordial essence or fundamental nature of the universe. In the foundational text of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching, Laozi explains that Tao is not a 'name' for a 'thing' but the underlying natural order of the universe whose ultimate essence is difficult to circumscribe. Tao is thus "eternally nameless” (Dao De Jing-32. Laozi) and to be distinguished from the countless 'named' things which are considered to be its manifestations. There is a close analogue in the Western tradition, with the German philosophical term "Sein", generally translated as Being, but it would be more accurate to understand that Tao also would include Nothingness as well.
In Taoism, Chinese Buddhism and Confucianism, the object of spiritual practice is to 'become one with the tao' (Tao Te Ching) or to harmonise one's will with Nature (cf. Stoicism). This involves meditative and moral practices. Important in this respect is the Taoist concept of De (virtue).
In all its uses, Dao is considered to have ineffable qualities that prevent it from being defined or expressed in words. It can, however, be known or experienced, and its principles (which can be discerned by observing Nature) can be followed or practiced. Much of East Asian philosophical writing focuses on the value of adhering to the principles of Tao and the various consequences of failing to do so. In Confucianism and religious forms of Daoism these are often explicitly moral/ethical arguments about proper behavior, while Buddhism and more philosophical forms of Daoism usually refer to the natural and mercurial outcomes of action (comparable to karma). Dao is intrinsically related to the concepts yin and yang (Pinyin: yīnyáng), where every action creates counter-actions as unavoidable movements within manifestations of the Dao, and proper practice variously involves accepting, conforming to, or working with these natural developments.
The concept of Tao differs from conventional (western) ontology, however; it is an active and holistic conception of Nature, rather than a static, atomistic one.

Description and uses of the concept

The ba gua, a symbol commonly used to represent the Dao and its pursuit.
The word "Dao" (道) has a variety of meanings in both ancient and modern Chinese language. Aside from its purely prosaic use to mean road, channel, path, doctrine, or similar,[1] the word has acquired a variety of differing and often confusing metaphorical, philosophical and religious uses. In most belief systems, Dao is used symbolically in its sense of 'way' as the 'right' or 'proper' way of existence, or in the context of ongoing practices of attainment or of the full coming into being, or the state of enlightenment or spiritual perfection that is the outcome of such practices.[2] Some scholars make sharp distinctions between moral or ethical usage of the word Dao that is prominent in Confucianism and religious Daoism and the more metaphysical usage of the term used in philosophical Daoism and most forms of Mahayana Buddhism;[3] others maintain that these are not separate usages or meanings, seeing them as mutually inclusive and compatible approaches to defining the concept.[4] The original use of the term was as a form of praxis rather than theory - a term used as a convention to refer to something that otherwise cannot be discussed in words - and early writings such as the Dao De Jing and the I Ching make pains to distinguish between conceptions of Dao (sometimes referred to as "named Dao") and the Dao itself (the "unnamed Dao"), which cannot be expressed or understood in language.[notes 1][notes 2][5] Liu Da asserts that Dao is properly understood as an experiential and evolving concept, and that there are not only cultural and religious differences in the interpretation of Dao, but personal differences that reflect the character of individual practitioners.[6]
Dao can be roughly thought of as the flow of the universe, or as some essence or pattern behind the natural world that keeps the universe balanced and ordered.[7] It is related to the idea of qi, the essential energy of action and existence. Dao is a non-dual concept - it is the greater whole from which all the individual elements of the universe derive. Keller considers it similar to the negative theology of Western scholars,[8] but Dao is rarely an object of direct worship, being treated more like the Hindu concepts of karma or dharma than as a divine object.[9] Dao is more commonly expressed in the relationship between wu (void or emptiness, in the sense of wuji) and yinyang (the natural dynamic balance between opposites), leading to its central principle of wu wei (non-action, or action without force).
Dao is usually described in terms of elements of nature, and in particular as similar to water. Like water it is undifferentiated, endlessly self-replenishing, soft and quiet but immensely powerful, and impassively generous.[10] Much of Daoist philosophy centers on the cyclical continuity of the natural world, and its contrast to the linear, goal-oriented actions of human beings.

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