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Is Tao = consciousness?

Discussion in 'Taoism DIR' started by DanielR, Feb 24, 2012.

  1. DanielR

    DanielR I like Nisargadatta Maharj :)

    Messages:
    533
    Religion:
    Advaita
    Hello y'all,

    I don't think this question has been asked here before, I just wanted to know if Tao is the same as Consciousness or Brahman in Advaita, or could it (Tao) be interpreted that way?

    Thank you :)
     
  2. swamplizard

    swamplizard Human

    Messages:
    1,768
    "What is described as the tao, is not the eternal Tao."

    best,
    swampy
     
    wmjbyatt likes this.
  3. DanielR

    DanielR I like Nisargadatta Maharj :)

    Messages:
    533
    Religion:
    Advaita
    :D

    good answer :D ^^

    thx :)
     
  4. wmjbyatt

    wmjbyatt Lunatic from birth

    Messages:
    427
    The answer above is the most perfect answer, but I figure we can take a little bit of concrete analytical yang with our abstract and mysterious yin, eh?

    The Tao COULD be interpreted that way... if you wanted to interpret it incorrectly. To my knowledge (which shows much greater depth in Taoism than it does in Advaita), there are fundamental differences (I may be wrong at any point regarding Advaita, so there's your grain of salt. Take it, dammit!). Specifically, the Tao lacks intention and awareness, and is thus fundamentally not conscious of itself (or anything else). Further, I understand Brahman to be a unified substance, whereas the Tao is neither form nor substance. It lacks separation, yes, but it also lacks unity. It lacks, in fact, itself. Also, it is my understanding that contact with Brahman is an experience of mystical unity. Having experienced mystical unity, it is not the same as (in terms of experienced nature) contact with the Tao, which is better described as an experience of mystical CLARITY, wherein the separation/unity thing is not to be described. To (inaccurately) describe, I understand contact with Brahman to be stillness to the point of transcendence, whereas contact with the Tao is movement to the point of transcendence.

    Now, it can be argued (successfully) that mystical contact is mystical contact, and they're all the same kind of thing. This is true. Kinda. It's more like... you know that "many paths, one mountain" metaphor? Mystical peaks have different characters, which I think can be best (inaccurately) described as looking in different directions from that peak. The best way I have to describe my understanding would be to say that mystical unity is kind of like looking straight up, while contact with the Tao is more like looking straight OUT as you snowboard back down the mountain.

    Now, we've explored some of the esoterics and gotten some good, concrete, yang-y analysis. The spot of yin there, unfortunately, is that everything I have just said is an approximation and mostly wrong. Though to think of truth as a binary is even more so.
     
  5. Iti oj

    Iti oj guru of the new rf Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    10,602
    Religion:
    RF cult leader & taosit black magician
    i don't think it matters... either way its the same thing, if anything i think consciousness would subtract from the concept. and technically this question is unawnserable for it would no longer be the tao
     
  6. apophenia

    apophenia Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,375
    tao is an uncarved block

    "only when the block is carved are there names

    as soon as there are names it is time to stop

    knowing when to stop prevents trouble

    all under heaven will return to the tao

    as brooks and streams flow home to the sea"

    from tao te ching verse 32
     
    bobhikes likes this.
  7. bodisat

    bodisat New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Each man attempts to be God, in its purest realm there is Spirit and this changes to whatever "shape" belief has. The concepts are fundamentally different, Brahma is living substance whilst Tao is non-living and unsubstantial.
     
  8. atanu

    atanu Member

    Messages:
    7,616
    Not so easy. :D

    Brahman is indescribable and so is not a substance. Mystical unity is only a mental step, since Brahman is not separate from anything.

    OTOH, if Tao was fundamentally not conscious of itself then one attaining Tao will be no better than a stone. You mean that Mystical clarity emanates from us the discrete pieces and it is not endowed by Tao?
     
  9. DanielR

    DanielR I like Nisargadatta Maharj :)

    Messages:
    533
    Religion:
    Advaita
    Thanks for all the answers,,

    as for now I cannot decide between Advaita, Taoism and Kashmir Shaivism,, Advaita regards the world as illusionary I think whereas in Taoism and KS the world is said to be real, but in KS Shiva is consciousness whereas Tao is not conscious hmm
     
  10. josh120775

    josh120775 waiting for god

    Messages:
    16
    Interesting indeed. I just started reading on Taoism, and it's been interesting. I reading the Derek Lin version.
     
  11. Vichar

    Vichar New Member

    Messages:
    113
    I would like to wrap my whole following post under the umbrella of "in my opinion".

    Yeah, the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao. But The eternal Tao can be experienced. We can Be it. Consciousness is not a bad approximation but I would suggest that maybe "spirit" comes a little closer.

    Consider the word "apple". The word itself and the actual physical apple are two different things. So the word Tao is different from the eternal Tao that can't be named. But I believe this is less a caution about semantics and more advice from the old man to look for the eternal Tao within. After ruling out the physical plane, emotions, mental concepts and thoughts, the Tao is what remains. So yes, that is consciousness from our experiential viewpoint. But the eternal Tao is the Tao in everyone, everywhere, and nowhere in the physical or conceptual planes, which is why I say maybe "spirit" is a closer fit.
     
  12. Vichar

    Vichar New Member

    Messages:
    113
    I agree the Tao is aware, alive, however we might put it. Is is conscious. I would just like to caution us that a stone is also the Tao; it is simply much less aware than we are (hopefully).

    More precisely, the stone does less thinking than we do, And so ironically it is closer to the Tao in many ways.
     
  13. ben d

    ben d Being

    Messages:
    2,221
    Religion:
    Yes
    A stone is no more the Tao than an electron in your body is you.

    Here is a little allegory for you to reflect on, don't be like the character 'Knowledge' and imagine 'you' can attain a sense of knowing the Tao, it is non-dual and hence is forever on the other side of knowledge.

    Knowledge had rambled northwards to the region of the Dark Water, where he ascended the height of Imperceptible Slope, when it happened that he met with Dumb Inaction. Knowledge addressed him, saying, 'I wish to ask you some questions:-- By what process of thought and anxious consideration do we get to know the Tâo? Where should we dwell and what should we do to find our rest in the Tâo? From what point should we start and what path should we pursue to make the Tâo our own?' He asked these three questions, but Dumb Inaction gave him no reply. Not only did he not answer, but he did not know how to answer.

    Knowledge, disappointed by the fruitlessness of his questioning, returned to the south of the Bright Water, and ascended the height of the End of Doubt, where he saw Heedless Blurter, to whom he put the same questions, and who replied, 'Ah! I know, and will tell you.' But while he was about to speak, he forgot what he wanted to say.

    Knowledge, again receiving no answer to his questions, returned to the palace of the the Yellow emperor, where he saw Hwang-Tî (Yellow emperor), and put the questions to him. Hwang-Tî said, 'To exercise no thought and no anxious consideration is the first step towards knowing the Tâo; to dwell nowhere and do nothing is the first step towards resting in the Tâo; to start from nowhere and pursue no path is the first step towards being one with the Tâo.'

    Knowledge then proudly addressed Hwang-Tî, saying, 'I and you know this, but those two did not know it; which of us is right?' Hwang-Tî replied, 'Dumb Inaction is truly right, Heedless Blurter has an appearance of being so, but you and I are nowhere near to being so". As it is said, "Those who know do not speak of it, those who speak of it do not know it", and "Hence the sage conveys his instructions without the use of speech."
    - Chuang Tzu

    So long as there a you Vichar, that is coming closer to the Tao, experiencing the Tao, thinking about the Tao, offering opinions about the Tao, etc., then the Tao remains obscured.

    This is most esoteric and to paraphrase a mystical saying of note, the Tao can only be revealed by the Tao to the Tao through the medium of the Tao, all else is error and vanity.

    Iow, the 'I' must cease arising to obscure the Tao, but don't imagine this means the extinction, rather transcendence beyond the ken of mortal mind.
     
  14. Vichar

    Vichar New Member

    Messages:
    113
    This is why the stone is closer to the Tao. It does not think about "I". It does not worry about being closer to the Tao. But a stone is conscious. It's just a matter of degree. One can (eventually) sense this directly.

    Esoteric things appear to be quite mysterious, but then again from another viewpoint they are laughly obvious. A little like riddles (but those are all mental, of course). The old man did a great job with the Tao Te Ching (or the guy that wrote down what he said), but it's practical advice. It's not unapproachable, and it's not meant to be "too deep to understand". If we go to that extreme, nothing that is spirit can be expressed with words or thoughts. We only refer to things with words. They help us understand what it is we're trying to discard--we are naturally bouyant otherwise and our consciousness will naturally emerge as dead weight is thrown overboard.
     
  15. ben d

    ben d Being

    Messages:
    2,221
    Religion:
    Yes
    Friend Vichar, to talk of a stone being closer to the Tao is missing the point, for from the Tao itself we can paraphrase...when something is judged as being closer, the concept of further comes into existence!

    Whenever a concept is created to represent a perception, simultaneously its complementary opposite comes into being. That is why so long as there is a 'you' seeking the Tao or not seeking the Tao, coming closer to the Tao or going further from the Tao, meditating on the Tao or not meditating on the Tao, the Tao remains obscured, for its the 'you' that obscures the transcendent that is eternally omnipresent.

    From the first verse of the Tao Teh Ching, Lao Tzu obseves..."The Tao that is spoken of, is not the eternal Tao",...this reveals the irony that all the words of all the verses that follows are not to be taken as a real, just a selection of salient conceptual representations concerning the real.

    Oh and btw, since it seems you are convinced of the extra special closeness of a atone to the Tao, you may or may not resonate with these Sufi pieces...

    I died as a stone and became a plant;
    I died as a plant and rose to animal;
    I died as an animal and I was a man.
    Why should I fear?
    When was I less by dying?
    Yet once more I shall die as man to soar...
    With angels blest.
    But even from an angel I must pass on:
    All except God must perish.
    When I have sacrificed my angel soul,
    I shall become what no mind ever conceived.
    -Jalaluddin Rumi

    and...

    God sleeps in the stone,
    Dreams in the plant,
    Stirs in the animal,
    And Awakens in Man.
    - Al Arabi
     
  16. crossfire

    crossfire Egyptian Borg heretic troll ☿ Staff Member Premium Member

    Messages:
    5,635
    Religion:
    Ordained Pastafarian, Taoish, Buddhish, & Luciferianish ☿
    Instead of looking for a thing/reductionism, try process thinking--no separation between subject and object.
     
  17. Alceste

    Alceste Vagabond

    Messages:
    26,030
    There are a few different concepts in taoism for what tao means. Consciousness is not one of them. Literally, it means "way". So, the way things are, the way to get where you want to go, the way things came to be etc. The only metaphysical concept it refers to is more like a big cosmic vagina that continually pours out creation than an intelligence. You could describe that as potentiality if you were in a certain mood. The uncarved block / empty vessel /centre of the wheel analogy is a metaphor for cultivating a state of potentiality in ourselves so that we can respond to any situation spontaneously and effortlessly.
     
  18. ben d

    ben d Being

    Messages:
    2,221
    Religion:
    Yes
    Friend Alceste, if you understand the Way does not refer to universal consciousness, then so be it, and if another understands the Way does refer to universal consciousness, then also, so be it!

    That Way is non-dual and hence is not affected by personal opinions as to what the Tao represents!

    The Great Way is not difficult
    for those who have no preferences.
    When love and hate are both absent
    everything becomes clear and undisguised.
    Make the smallest distinction, however,
    and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.
    If you wish to see the truth
    then hold no opinions for or against anything.
    To set up what you like against what you dislike
    is the disease of the mind.

    When the deep meaning of things is not understood
    the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
    The Way is perfect like vast space
    where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.
    Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject
    that we do not see the true nature of things.
    Be serene in the oneness of things
    and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.
    - Chien-chih Seng-ts'an
     
  19. Alceste

    Alceste Vagabond

    Messages:
    26,030
    Kind of shoots your bolded sentence in the foot there with the bit about "erroneous views" at the end, doesn't he. ;)
     
  20. ben d

    ben d Being

    Messages:
    2,221
    Religion:
    Yes
    Sorry but can you explain what you mean more clearly?
     
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