dao completion


several varieties of eggs in abstract style, muted tones

Only when the last spoke
Has been fitted to the wheel,
Is there completion.

Ambitions, career, family, and everyday identity are like the outer wheel. All the different talents and deep aspects of the mind are like the spokes. The consciousness is the hub that holds all together. At the center of the hub is emptiness — that aspect of ourselves that is open to the universal reality.

Unfortunately, we are not always whole. Perhaps it is a matter of opportunities missed when we were younger. Perhaps it is a lack of education or experience. Whatever it may be, we should, through introspection, search out what we lack and then work toward fulfilling it. Once we identify and complete some part of ourselves, it is like fitting a spoke into our wheel. when we have enough spokes, we are whole.

A new wheel will have a long future of rolling. Our selves, once made whole, can then serve our spiritual aspirations until the end.

365 Tao
daily meditations
Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9
© 2005 lisbeth west

The Conceptual Context

One source of the difficulty in characterizing the metaphysics of dao is this deep difference in the role of metaphysics. The other most important source is the wide gap between the conceptual schemes of ancient China and those of Indo-European (Buddhist, Islamic and Judeao-Christian) culture. I have discussed these differences at length in my 1992 and will only restate the conclusions here. The important points for our purposes here includes the absence of a Western representational and propositional conception of 'belief', 'knowledge', 'inference' as well as (correspondence or coherence) 'truth', 'reason', or 'inference'. The ways ancient Chinese grammar use to attribute commitments resembled de re belief ascriptions more than the de dicto ascriptions more familiar in English.[6] When ancient Chinese thinkers ascribed commitments to each other, they treated commitments as taking the form of a disposition to use a term or description of some part of the world. They seldom attributed commitments in a way that suggested "inner representations" of outer "facts" or pictures of things in the world. The writing may have been pictures, but the commitments were to use some term (written or spoken) of the given object.

In theory of language, I argued that they also did not otherwise highlight the sentence as a significant unit of language. They did not have a clear notion of the syntactic sentence, which would be located conceptually between the clearly recognized mingnamesphrase (ranging from compound characters to long strings "with a yiintent") and the discourse-like daoguide. A key to my view was my hypothesis that daoguide was a linguistic unit--at the opposite end from mingnames. (paradigmatically the ideographic character), the broadly construed ci

Three other features of classical Chinese grammar bear on our account of the nature of dao. First, Ancient Chinese does not have singular-plural grammatical marking, so references to dao are comparatively mass-like. To skip a lot of controversy and detail, the important points are daos can be summed (your dao and my dao make our dao) and we may individuate them in several ways. Second, Chinese lacks articles—definite or indefinite. Again, traditional translations and accounts typically supply the definite article, “the” before occurrences of dao particularly in contexts where the nature of dao is concerned. I suggest instead using it as an implicit plural (e.g. like a mass noun) or an indefinite 'some' instead. Third, dao is sometimes used as a verb in Chinese – and most famously in Daoist texts such as the first line of the Daode Jing – dao which can be dao-ed is not constant dao.

Against the prevailing practice of translating the verb as "to speak”, I argued that it (a) should incorporate the normative force of the noun, i.e., something like "to guide" and (b) that the range of denotation should include both speech and writing -- as well as gesturing and so forth. I suggest treating the verbal use as "to express as guidance." Again, I will not repeat these arguments here, but want to broaden them slightly in keeping with the entry-exit transition model. The notion of ‘expression’ may restrict the range of the verb in ways that underplay how many ways one may endorse a dao. Brandom's[7] formulation of a notion close to what I am after would be "to endorse a pattern of material practical inference" whether in intention, plan, expression or recommendation to another. I have reservations about explicating ancient Chinese commitments in terms (e.g., 'inference') that suggest a commitment to sentential analysis. Still, we can rephrase Brandom's notion as expressing commitment to conform to a way (analogous to commitment to follow a practice), which leaves the reference to 'inference' implicit in the structure of the practice. Zhuangzi's helpful metaphor here gets the vague effect of 'inference' via our "shooting out" shi-feithis-not this 是非" distinctions and commitments to which we cling, as we would to "an oath or a treaty." Talk of a 'practice', rather than to a specific intent, a principle or a norm is advised because of these worries about segmenting dao sententially. Individuation of dao, as I noted above is best left vague. To dao is to undertake a commitment to correctly effecting some (bit of?) dao in behavior.

The variety of ways to individuate dao stem not only from the mass-like segmentation, but also from the familiar difficulty of drawing the boundaries with a word like "community." Implicitly in ancient China, the stereotype of dao in ethical debate was a large, nearly universal human community.[8] But Daoist literature regularly draw our attention to daos of thieves, of musicians, of carpenters etc. as well as to even more global daos of all natural kinds, of the world (natural and social) of nature and so forth. The notion of dao clearly is not limited to ordinary moral discourse, but to any practical discourse--including perhaps the discourse of "natural signs."

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