Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Tao

In one of your readings - the one that says 'Rebel-Seeker' at the top of the page - we are told that Hesse "was favorably impressed by Lao-Tse" and "became a passionate advocate of Chinese thought and belief" (Mileck 161).

I was looking at the Tao Te Ching recently and found a few excerpts whose sentiments and ideas Siddhartha seems to echo. I've included one example below, for your perusal and mystification.

"Be done with knowing and your worries
will disappear.
How much difference is there between yes and no?
How much distinction between good and evil?
Fearing what others fear, admiring
what they admire -
nonsense.

Conventional people are jolly and reckless,
feasting on worldly things and carrying
on as though every day were the
beginning of spring.
I alone remain uncommitted, like an
infant who hasn't yet smiled:
lost, quietly drifting, unattached
to ideas and places and things."

(Walker, Brian Browne. The Tao Te Ching of Lao Tze. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.)

1 comment:

Nicholas said...

Mystification is right.

I'm not altogether familiar with the principles and philosophy of Taoism but from what I do know it prescribes one to be so unattached as to be somewhat apathetic.

Chuang Tzu's (I believe he is one of the pillars of Taoist thought) writings also feature a concept of metempsychosis - the 'transmigration of the soul', see the butterfly dream thing - and I do not profess to know the specifics of what he defines identity as but it seems to say flitting from one form (social constructs, i.e. identities/personalities) to another is perfectly acceptable and is perhaps the natural state of things.

I suppose Taoism posits our existence as essentially ephemeral - in Siddhartha we follow the same vein as he takes on a variety of roles (this time more occupations than personalities/identities) but the principle divergence here is that apparently this cycle of infidelity to a constant or 'true self' (SAMSARA, yes?) is one to be broken out of. To achieve that elusive ATMAN.

Maybe I haven't read enough, but I tend to distrust Taoism for its disregard of paradox. Too tired to elaborate further... It has to do with how metempsychosis necessarily requires attachment (to the entity the soul is subsuming) - also how Cogito Ergo Sum would throw a spanner into the works of this multiple points of existence thing.

Ahaha 2 AM and the rain is falling here we are at the crossroads once again I am incoherent.

-Nic Seow