Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsOkay. Today, I want to talk about the Dao De Jing
Skip to 0 minutes and 18 secondsthe Dao De Jing as we see it in the West. We do not say that Beethoven is music that German people like to listen to. Beethoven belongs to the world, and because Beethoven belongs to the world, Beethoven becomes a much more important cultural hero. The Dao De Jing is a text like this in the sense that it has been translated into English more than any other text.
Skip to 0 minutes and 55 secondsPerhaps there are close to 400 different translations.
Skip to 1 minute and 1 secondWhat is the Dao De Jing? The Dao De Jing is a window on a way of thinking in ancient China. The interpretative context of the Dao De Jing is 4th century before the common era
Skip to 1 minute and 24 secondsduring the Warring States period in China,
Skip to 1 minute and 28 secondsand the Dao De Jing is a collection of wisdom sayings that constituted the language during that period. So that means that a school, a lineage of thinkers collected and edited together a way of thinking that was a response to the violence of the time. We remember that the Warring States period in China was 200, 300 years of increasingly exponentially violent conflict among the states on the central plains of China
Skip to 2 minutes and 19 secondswhere, just like in Vietnam in the 20th century, a woman would give birth to a child understanding that this child would never reach majority. And so the Dao De Jing is a way of thinking that is an alternative to the kind of horrors of warfar that were characteristic of this period in Chinese history. The Dao De Jing has what we call the Wu forms Wuwei Wuyu Wuzhi
Skip to 3 minutes and 0 secondsThat what these concepts are are ways of optimizing the human experience. That the text begins from a cosmology, a worldview, a common sense where relationality comes before particularity. What does that mean? That means that a friendship is what is most concrete, and the people who constitute the friendship are abstractions out of the concrete relationship. So we tend to think of ourselves physically as organic, but the Dao De Jing gives us an organic worldview where the human experience is the entire human experience is organic. That human beings are not discrete particulars. What we are is we are like events in history. We are relationally constituted. The family is the entry point for the human being to develop those kinds of moral
Skip to 4 minutes and 17 secondsthe moral competence that allows us to optimize the human experience.
Skip to 4 minutes and 24 secondsAnd so these Wu forms:non-coercive acting, Wuwei the idea that in our relationships, if we can begin from not trying to overwrite the other, the other person, the environment, that what we have to do is we have to achieve a quality of relationship where we let the world be itself. We begin from that point of view and then try to get the most creativity out of the relationship. The mirror is an image that we use in the Daoist tradition, where the mirror allows us to take the other person and give them 100% of who they are. So in our friendships with other people, if we begin from wanting them to be something different, that’s an unhealthy relationship.
Skip to 5 minutes and 28 secondsIf we begin in our relationships allowing the other person to be wholly who they are and then on that basis pursue a friendship, that gives us the most— the widest creative possibilities. Wu Yu is objectless desire. Now human beings live in the world but we don't want to occupy other things. We don't want to own other things. when we say, “My children,” or, “My wife” or“My father, we don't want to think of that relationship as one of ownership. We have to allow the other person to be who they are, to find their own way and then on that basis to grow our relationship.
Skip to 6 minutes and 23 secondsAnd Wu Zhi is the idea that when we come into a particular situation, we don't want to bring the agenda with us so it’s kind of unprincipled knowing. It’s knowing that is seeing rather than knowing, that is to say that we don't want to mediate an experience through our assumptions, through our stereotypes, through our presuppositions about things. We want to have an experience where we take that experience wholly on its own terms. So these Wu forms that are the foundation of the Dao De Jing really provide us with a way of thinking about relationships that allow us to optimize the human experiences, that allow us to make the human experiences as meaningful as significant as we can
Wu forms and the human experience
Dao De Jing begins with an essential statement that relationality comes before particularity. It gives us a worldview that the entire human experience is organic. As the video explains, the Dao De Jing is a window on a way of thinking in ancient China. It features what we call the Wu forms - Wuwei, Wuyu and Wuzh. These concepts are are ways of optimising the human experience.