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Hedonistic Daoism


Blessed2
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I'm reading a book about Daoism, and there is some interesting stuff here. I'll copy some of it for you:

 

 

The hedonistic orientation of Daoism and Zhuangzi favors lightheartedness, leisure, non-constrained life, indulgence and following one's own happiness and satisfaction. It's based on this idea: that which is good for me, is good for the entire universe. If the individual is a part of Dao, then all their feelings and desires are too part of it. Thus, all personal desires of human beings are manifestations of greater cosmic goodness, and are to be satisfied.

 

The hedonistic orientation is closely tied with a philosopher Yang Zhu. According to him and the hedonists, everything is naturally and inseparably part of Dao. They refuse to profess the difference between inner purity and the potential imbalances that desires and excessive sensory experience might bring. Rather, they accept all aspects of life as positive.

 

The result is certain ruthlessness when it comes to personal sacrifice - Yang Zhu wouldn't even give one of his fingernails to save an entire world. On the other hand, the result is also a very relaxed and lighthearted lifestyle.

 

Hedonistic ideas have persisted in Daoism in a form that of an unconventional poet and hermit, who is constantly drunk and doesn't care about social norms or codes of conduct. These ideas are also present in certain figures, like the Eight Immortals, who are known for their lighthearted attitude, peculiar ways of enjoying their free-time and joyful laughter about everything, with everyone.

 

 

What do you guys think? This resonates with me a lot. I feel like I just found something that truly feels like me, what I want to be all about. ❤️ Something here really rings true for me.
 

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Ah yes. Zhuangzi and Yang Zhu had slightly different philosophies - I personally prefer Zhuangzi. To Zhuangzi (who wrote a book with the same title), the useless life, the life of the honorable bum, is the good life. The sage who simply lives day after day and who doesn't worry about the future or about what others might think about him. He lives of the hand in his mouth and doesn't know where his food comes from, he always has money but doesn't know where it comes from either. 

Yang Zhu's hedonism isn't quite the same as what we mean by the word "hedonism". It doesn't mean to totally chase plesaure and not care about social norms whatsoever. It means to live the useless life. The carefree life. The light-hearted life. Not the "chase pleasure at all cost hardcore hedonist" life.

But first and foremost, it's the useless life. The purposeless life. The life that has no meaning or sense beyond the here and now, totally.

 

The old, crooked tree isn't good for anything. You can't make a walking cane of it, neither can you eat its leaves, nor is it of any use to a carpenter. Thus, this honorable tree lives long.

The Daoist bum sage who sits by the side of the road, drunk on rice wine, laughing about the terribly serious looking faces of all the people going by who think they're so busy, who has a big bag full of nonsense things and trash because he collects everything he finds on his way, but who gives it to children and laughs together with them - that's by the way the "fat Buddha", his name is "Budai" (布袋) in Chinese and he is revered as one of the ideal men, although he emerged from Chan Buddhism rather than Daoism. But Daoism influenced Chan Buddhism a great deal before it went to Japan and become Zen. 

 

So you see, this type of hedonism is characterized by a kind of modesty and contentness, unlike classical Western understanding of hedonism where the motto is "the more, the better." Many of these Doaist sages are said to have been mendicants, begging monks. 

 

I personally love Daoism, Zhuang Zhou and Chan Buddhiusm. It's a very playful, unserious way of life and a good counter balance to our Western, busy, serious ways of life.

 

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@Indisguise 🙏❤️

 

1 hour ago, Indisguise said:

Yang Zhu's hedonism isn't quite the same as what we mean by the word "hedonism". It doesn't mean to totally chase plesaure and not care about social norms whatsoever. It means to live the useless life. The carefree life. The light-hearted life. Not the "chase pleasure at all cost hardcore hedonist" life.

But first and foremost, it's the useless life. The purposeless life. The life that has no meaning or sense beyond the here and now, totally.

 

Yeah! This "hedonism" we're talking about isn't really hedonism, it's not a philosophy. It can't be thought. I've noticed that this free-flow, accepting desire and doing what feels good is really just alignment, it only ever leads to here-now, mindfulness and simple joy.

 

1 hour ago, Indisguise said:

The old, crooked tree isn't good for anything. You can't make a walking cane of it, neither can you eat its leaves, nor is it of any use to a carpenter. Thus, this honorable tree lives long.

The Daoist bum sage who sits by the side of the road, drunk on rice wine, laughing about the terribly serious looking faces of all the people going by who think they're so busy, who has a big bag full of nonsense things and trash because he collects everything he finds on his way, but who gives it to children and laughs together with them - that's by the way the "fat Buddha", his name is "Budai" (布袋) in Chinese and he is revered as one of the ideal men, although he emerged from Chan Buddhism rather than Daoism. But Daoism influenced Chan Buddhism a great deal before it went to Japan and become Zen. 

 

Ryokan Taigu comes to mind. I love his poems and energy.

 

2 hours ago, Indisguise said:

and a good counter balance to our Western, busy, serious ways of life.

 

Yeah. And IMO also a great counter-balance to spiritual "goals" and "achievements". 

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3 hours ago, Lotus said:

Wow, you seem to know a lot about Daoism. Any book recommendations? German ones are welcome, too!

Yeah I love Daoism and will reply with 100% certainty to any post about Daoism or Chan/Zen😂

I would highly reccommend to you the original books of Daoism. The first book on Daoism that I've ever read was the Daodejing, by the founder of Daoism, Lao Tsu. But don't expect to understand what Lao Tsu writes. Don't read the Daodejing like you would read any other book, aiming to understand and make logical and rational sense of what is written. Read the Daodejing rather like you would look at a painting. In other words, let the intuitive understanding come to you. Don't rush it.

I remember when I first laid hands on a very old version of the Daodejing from my (former) university library, I went and sat under a crooked old willow tree by the water (which I would also reccommend; go  read Daoist texts in nature, as Daoism is a philosophy of nature) and sometimes read one chapter a day. and the chapters are very short. Every time we return to the chapters, they will mean something different.

As it is also said in Daoism; "The scholar learns something every day. But the sage unlearns something every day." (chapter 48 Daodejing)

 

Next to the Daodejing, read "Zhuang Zhou". He has a lot to say about the useless life. 

As I said, Chan has been influenced by Daoism and if you're interested further, you can try to look into some of the old Chan classical texts, preferably stories. There's a book called the Bìyán Lù (碧巖錄), which contains many of the great Koan stories and is reminiscent of Daoist mentalities and relating to nature. 

 

I highly recommend Alan Watts book "Tao - The Watercourse Way", he has a great and sophisticated understanding of Daoism.

 

There are a lot of German and English translations of the Daodejing and it's difficult to get a good one, because many translations actually miss some of the crucial meanings of some of the ideas of the Chinese language.

My favorite translation (habs aus der Uni-Bibliothek von der JLU Gießen, hab da früher studiert😄) isn't in print anymore: "Laudse Daudedsching", by Ernst Schwarz published by the "dtv" (Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag), from 1980. It's a really good translation, the best one I've come across so far, and it has some nice commentary (which is certainly helpful, giving you some context in terms of Chinese culture and language of that time). 

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@Indisguise

 

Amazing, thanks so much dude. Reading the Daoist texts in nature sounds like a good idea, seeing the cycles of nature in real-time. So far, I've only read a few portions of The Tao of Systems Thinking, but you're inspiring me to read the Daodejing exclusively right now. I always wanted to read some Alan Watts too, so this is a good timing! 😄

 

1 hour ago, Indisguise said:

As it is also said in Daoism; "The scholar learns something every day. But the sage unlearns something every day." (chapter 48 Daodejing)

 

Geez, I love it.

 

 

1 hour ago, Indisguise said:

There are a lot of German and English translations of the Daodejing and it's difficult to get a good one, because many translations actually miss some of the crucial meanings of some of the ideas of the Chinese language.

My favorite translation (habs aus der Uni-Bibliothek von der JLU Gießen, hab da früher studiert😄) isn't in print anymore: "Laudse Daudedsching", by Ernst Schwarz published by the "dtv" (Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag), from 1980. It's a really good translation, the best one I've come across so far, and it has some nice commentary (which is certainly helpful, giving you some context in terms of Chinese culture and language of that time). 

Dann warste ja gar nicht weit von mir entfernt. Ich werd mal Ausschau nach dem Buch halten. 😌

 

Again, thank you for the recommendations! 🙏

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1 hour ago, Lotus said:

Dann warste ja gar nicht weit von mir entfernt. Ich werd mal Ausschau nach dem Buch halten. 😌

Hi,

 

Per the forum guidelines-

 

"Posting in any language but English is currently prohibited."

 

Thank you 

 

 

 

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6 hours ago, Mandy said:

I think that hedonism and pleasure is most often misunderstood when it is thought of as a duality. 

6 hours ago, Blessed2 said:

 

Or thought of at all 😁😂

Do hedonism or pleasure experiences appear as thought's to you? 

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48 minutes ago, nurthur11 said:

Do hedonism or pleasure experiences appear as thought's to you? 

No, I can have thoughts of appreciation, and that's awesome. I find running pleasurable, because I have very few thoughts while running that aren't of appreciation. Others find it awful because they have lots of thoughts about how awful it is. What they don't see is that they don't like the discord of the thoughts about running, they don't dislike running itself. 

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Mandy said:

No, I can have thoughts of appreciation, and that's awesome. I find running pleasurable, because I have very few thoughts while running that aren't of appreciation. Others find it awful because they have lots of thoughts about how awful it is. What they don't see is that they don't like the discord of the thoughts about running, they don't dislike running itself. 

 

So could one experience pleasure and not know about it because one does not have thoughts of appreciation?

 

Edited by nurthur11
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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, Mandy said:

I'd say that thoughts about it and knowing about it are an unnecessary but cool occurrence. 

Yeah, this makes sense for me. Ty for the response!

 

Very cool understanding 🙂

Edited by nurthur11
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On 6/3/2022 at 4:18 PM, Blessed2 said:

I'm reading a book about Daoism, and there is some interesting stuff here. I'll copy some of it for you:

 

 

The hedonistic orientation of Daoism and Zhuangzi favors lightheartedness, leisure, non-constrained life, indulgence and following one's own happiness and satisfaction. It's based on this idea: that which is good for me, is good for the entire universe. If the individual is a part of Dao, then all their feelings and desires are too part of it. Thus, all personal desires of human beings are manifestations of greater cosmic goodness, and are to be satisfied.

 

The hedonistic orientation is closely tied with a philosopher Yang Zhu. According to him and the hedonists, everything is naturally and inseparably part of Dao. They refuse to profess the difference between inner purity and the potential imbalances that desires and excessive sensory experience might bring. Rather, they accept all aspects of life as positive.

 

The result is certain ruthlessness when it comes to personal sacrifice - Yang Zhu wouldn't even give one of his fingernails to save an entire world. On the other hand, the result is also a very relaxed and lighthearted lifestyle.

 

Hedonistic ideas have persisted in Daoism in a form that of an unconventional poet and hermit, who is constantly drunk and doesn't care about social norms or codes of conduct. These ideas are also present in certain figures, like the Eight Immortals, who are known for their lighthearted attitude, peculiar ways of enjoying their free-time and joyful laughter about everything, with everyone.

 

 

What do you guys think? This resonates with me a lot. I feel like I just found something that truly feels like me, what I want to be all about. ❤️ Something here really rings true for me.
 

Just two cents, but it sounds like the way of an ego hijacking the Dao, with a sprinkle of Truth.

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35 minutes ago, Phil said:

Just two cents, but it sounds like the way of an ego hijacking the Dao, with a sprinkle of Truth.

Reminds me a lot of the same objections with the dreamboard, LoA & manifesting desires. 🤔

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32 minutes ago, Phil said:

Just two cents, but it sounds like the way of an ego hijacking the Dao, with a sprinkle of Truth.

 

How so?

 

Don't get too hung up on the -ism or the drunken hobo figure.

 

On 6/4/2022 at 1:58 PM, Blessed2 said:

How I see it, it boils down to few points...

 

You are already pure

 

There is no guilt

 

There is no need

 

There is no insufficiency

 

There is no lack

 

There are no separate selves

 

Not giving a fingernail to save a world probably points to authenticity and honesty in contrast of shame and guilt-driven values and spiritual ideals. Forgiveness!

 

Is this not communion?

 

At that point the joy and love must be great enough to give the fingernail anyway.

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