dao solutions


Aretha chicken, black and white mottled, views her barnyard

Don't be afraid to explore;
Without exploration there are no discoveries.
Don’t be afraid of partial solutions;
Without the tentative there is no

Indecision and procrastination are corrosive habits. Those who wait for every little thing to be perfect before they embark on a project or who dislike the compromise of a partial solution are among the least happy. Ideal circumstances are seldom given to anyone for an undertaking. Instead there is uncertainty in every situation. The wise are those who can wrest great advantage from circumstances opaque to everyone else.

Wanting everything in life to be perfect before you take action is like wanting to reach a destination without travel. For those who follow Tao, travel is every bit as important as the destination. One step after another: This is still central to the wisdom of Tao.

Every day passes whether you participate or not. If you are not careful, years will go by and you will only have regrets. If you cannot solve a problem all at once, at least make a stab at it. Reduce your problems into smaller, more manageable packages, and you can make measurable progress toward achievement. If you wait for everything to be perfect according to your preconceived plans, then you may well wait forever. If you go out and work with the current of life, you may find that success comes from building upon small things.

365 Tao
daily meditations
Deng Ming-Dao (author)
ISBN 0-06-250223-9
tao hub
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original photo from camera phone

(The January Project)*

©2005 lisbeth west

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*(The January Project was created to show that the photographer's eye is the most important "tool" in creating a great photo. All shots were taken during the month of January, 2005 with a Motorola camera phone.)


I am proposing to refine a traditional account of the character of Daoist thinking that I take that tradition to have mistaken for a meaning change. The refinement does not deny that they may give accounts of the nature of dao. To the degree that we consider such an account metaphysical, Daoists may be said to address the metaphysics of daoguide, but the "metaphysical" viewpoint is of a metaphysics of action, not a way of turning their backs on the philosophical issues of ancient China to talk about a religious view of supernatural creation and divine nature. Rather than asking, "What is, such that we may know it?" the Daoist asks, "What is, such that humans can act in it?" His answer does not use the familiar concepts of Western sentential philosophy--no propositions, truths (including moral truths), beliefs, practical reasoning, or most of their close and distant conceptual relatives. Nor does a Daoist conception of either language or mind shift focus to the experiential or entry side of meaning. It does not start with mystical experience, consciousness, evidence, or either a successful or failed attempt to picture some ultimate being.

The elevator terms of this conception include this-not this (right-wrong) (of actions of contextual selections), distinctions, discrimination, desires, deemings, and dao itself. Dao is the main elevator term but is otherwise close to 'way' in English--a term that never had been a dominant elevator term of Western philosophy. Chinese meta-ethics uses a radically different conceptual scheme in a different philosophical agenda, and with different ways of setting of its problems. I have not, as I predicted, provided a definitive individuation of this confused practical concept, but we can begin to appreciate why (a) Daoists express the view that the subject matter leads to obscurity and paradox and (b) why their conclusions cover the range from monism to relativism and skepticism.

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