AGAIN: Tao Te Ching


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I will make this as simple as I can. Will someone please explain Taoism to me in laymans terms. Or is that possible? I don't consider myself a shallow person, but yet I can't comprehend the Tao Te Ching. Alot of unspoken words are a play.
I can try...

Tao Te Ching (or: Daode Jing) means in the common translation: "The Book of the Way and the Power/Virtue".

When you read it, don't try to understand it! My suggestion is that you just read it... absorb it, and lets its poetry reveal its own beauty.

The Book can and have been interpreted in many ways - it's not something that has one final and absolute meaning.

Regarding Taoism... I'd describe it as seeking the art of living, and living with balance and harmony. Do note that the Tao Te Ching does not contain any commandments or orders, like the Christian Bible or Moslem Qu'ran does, but it does contain a lot of recommandations and anecdotes, i guess you can call them that.

I have personally had a very much enlightenment and enjoyment from reading various versions of TTC. I think it is awsomely simple and beautiful in its composition and messages.

Remember, dont read this is a scientific textbook. Absorb it... gently!
Djsupreme23 is right. the Tao te ching is more about an attitude to life, going with the flow, umm, not thinking too much and not not thinking too much. Its hard to explain, read some comentaries on it, but always come back to the original text, and try some different translations, some are somehow better than others even though it can be hard to say how.
It can be difficult for the western mind to comprehend Taoism. We need everything to be defined precisely, and find it hard to read between the lines. The first line of the Tao te ching is something like: The Tao that can be told is not the true tao. This means that although we may describe its effects, the real tao remains undefinable. In a way, it is sort of like a godly spirit in everything, but it is not separate, it is sort of coded into the very fabric of reality. It is impartial, and both soft and powerful, like water. The more we act in accord with it, using its presence in us as a guide, the more we flourish. Thats about the best I can do right now...hope it helps.
Tao and the Ocean

Once upon a time, a young fish asked an old fish: "Everyone talks about this thing they call 'ocean.' What the heck is it?"

The older and wiser fish answered: "The ocean is this thing that surrounds you on all sides."

The younger fish didn't understand: "There's nothing around me! Why can I not see this 'ocean?'"

"Of course you cannot," the old fish was patient. "The ocean is both inside and outside of you. You were born in the ocean and chances are you will die in it. The ocean flows around you, just as your own skin does."

Confucius once said, "Fish forget they live in water; people forget they live in the Tao." We all live in the ocean of Tao. It flows over us; it is within us and all around us. It enfolds us like our own skin, and yet we cannot perceive it... indeed, most of us have no idea what it is. Let us think of Tao as the universal flow of reality. This will take us another step toward true understanding of Tao.

Source: Tao Stories
What is Daoism?

Daoism is strongly reductionist. The very first words of the Dao de Jing warn that words cannot convey the very truth the book is attempting to convey. So I can say that the central theme of Daoism is that "all things are one", but even that is inadequate since the concept of "all things" itself detracts from the expression of the theme. Much of Daoist thought is like this. In my study of it I found myself moving in a steadily decreasing spiral until the only realistic expression I could make about Daoism was a mindful silence.
I've been trying to understand Daoism for some time now and I find it quite difficult. The problem being the various different approaches to translating the Daode Jing due to the ambiguity of the Chinese languages, some might say the essence of the Dao is reflected in the Chinese language, heavily Subtractive as opposed to Additive as most western philosphies might seem. Mainly my confusion probably lies within this phraze ''trying to understand Daoism''.

On translations of the Ta Te Ching(Daode Jing) I think I am soon going to totaly dismiss the translation Aleister Crowley has provided mainly due to his questionable morality and the Seemingly perverted use of the Concept of 'Do what thou willt, and that shall be the whole of the law'. He seems to mean 'Do whatever you want' :D Drugs, women, men, anything.
But I like his poetic approach as opposed to the dry, scholarly (and often Westernly biased(Christianity, etc.)) that most translations are, does anyone know of a good translation that is not too scholarly and also not too perverted?
I read it first with an open/blank mind, where I didn't try to analyze it too much or apply the messages. The second time I went went through it trying to apply the messages to what I was seeing around my life. I found parts of it to be applicable to politics, business ethics, and general living.

One section I thought dealt with the US presidential elections almost perfectly, 66:
"How does the sea become the king of all streams?/ Because it lies lower than they!/ Hence it is the king of all streams./ Therefore, the Sage reigns over the pople by humbling himself in speech;/ And leads the people by putting himself behind./ Thus it is that when a Sage stand above the poeple, they do not feel the heaviness of his weight;/ And when he stands in front of the people, they do not feel hurt./ Therefore all the world is glad to push him forward without getting tired of him./ Just becase he strives with nobody,/ Nobody can ever strive with him.

from John C. H. Wu's trans.
Except that I think that "applying" the Tao te ching to things isnt quite right.
Dont focus on "learning". Just read it... grab a bottle of beer, tea, and a slice of good pizza, kick back and just read it. You get the idea.

Originally posted by grazzhoppa
Yea I know that, but I'm incappable of learning it.

That sort of self -defeating, self-immolating attitute is exactly what they are preaching. With that attitude, i would say that you dont need to learn anything that you havent learned already.
Dont think,dont do, be nice to everyone, STAGNATE.

"travel only along used trails"
dont create. Dont do.

I, once upon a time, read the book seriously. Now i read it as a joke, and to enforce exactly what Ayn Rand has said on the topic.
Self-immolation and stagnation.
"I, once upon a time, read the book seriously. Now i read it as a joke"

Whilst that is fair comment on teh Tao te ching,

"and to enforce exactly what Ayn Rand has said on the topic.
Self-immolation and stagnation."

That isnt.
You clearly have decided the way you look at things is different from the way teh tao te ching suggests.
Tao-ism has a light touch. A Taoist person tends to be flexible, faster in the moment, smoother. Jonathon Livingston Seagull moved a single feather sometimes to achieve his desired goal of flying in one passage.

Tao-ism tends to be very clear for me. Tao-ism reminds me of simple judo; it's easy to step aside if a blow is coming and observe rather than to confront the blow right away.

Tao-ism can be very outgoing. The "Te" in Tao Te Ching means virtue, according to The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff. So, combining the above 3 paragraphs, virtuous action should be outgoing and flexible to the moment.

Zen koans don't speak to me, usually, and if in a bad mood, a koan appears snobbish when the Zen master rebukes a student.
Tuner said:
Tao-ism reminds me of simple judo; it's easy to step aside if a blow is coming and observe rather than to confront the blow right away.

Sidestepping is difficult if someone grabs hold of you; this was the doctrine of Carolus Magnus. He made a lot of people into Christians by threatening to kill them.
The Tao Te Ching is a very small book, and there are several excellent translations. I like the one by Stephan Mitchell. It could not be said better, or explained in terms more suitable for the laymen. If there is a particular passage to be explained, maybe I can help, but the whole thing is a work of philosophical art, and is irreducible. It may require a lifetime of contemplation to understand, or an instant, whatever way is more appropriate to you.