dao triumph

I have received an outpouring of messages from folks who have wonderful artwork and photographs: I also received a few requests to continue using my own work. So we will alternate days for all the artwork, you will see some of mine and a lot of other folks’ art.

Please continue to contact me and send or point me in the direction of your artwork. I am thilled at the beautiful art that every member creates!

Also, if you have poetry to contribute, send it and I will see if we can add it to the daily Tao as well. And thanks especially to today's artist, Monica. Kramer is a lovely dog and his eyes show great wisdom!


"Handsome Boy" Monica's dear dog, what a sweety!

Crawl to begin.
Triumph to complete.
Renounce to leave.

What is the anatomy of any phase of life? First comes a learning stage full of awkward struggles for mastery. Then comes a phase of testing yourself in competition. Finally, there is gracious retirement from the field, for constant competition is not a lasting way of life.

Competition is always a thorny problem. True, it challenges you to be your very best. Cultivating skill without using it is like learning a foreign language and never leaving your house. If we think of winning all the in the narrow sense of vanquishing others, we fall into a dangerous egotism. Winning can be thought of as attainment. For example, if you learn to swim, that is winning over your ignorance and sloth. If you enter into a meet and win, then that is winning not over others, but achieving your personal best. The other competitors are secondary; it is more important that you know where you stand, that you consolidate your position, and that you look for further achievement. That is true triumph.

Triumph in the right amounts is the greatest tonic to the soul. Triumph carried to extremes corrodes the soul. Once you have had your share of triumphs, know when to get out. Once you have gained the top, renounce competition.

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

"Handsome Boy" (Kramer)
© 2005 Monica Carradori
used with permission of the artist
(Monica, I have an archival quality copy for you!)

Philosophy of Mind in China

Historical Developments: The Classical Period

Confucius indirectly addressed philosophy of mind questions in his theory of education. He shaped the moral debate in a way that fundamentally influenced the classical conception of xin (heart-mind). Confucius’ discourse dao was the classical syllabus, including most notably history, poetry and ritual. On one hand, we can think of these as "training" the xin to proper performance. On the other, the question of how to interpret the texts into action seemed to require a prior interpretive capacity of xin. Confucius appealed to a tantalizingly vague intuitive ability that he called ren (humanity). A person with ren can translate guiding discourse into performance correctly—i.e., can execute or follow a dao. Confucius left open whether ren was innate or acquired in study—though the latter seems more likely to have been his position.

It was, in any case, the position of China’s first philosophical critic, the anti-Confucian Mozi. Again concern with philosophy of mind was subordinate to Mozi’s normative concerns. He saw moral character as plastic. Natural human communion (especially our tendency to "emulate superiors") shaped it. Thus, we could cultivate utilitarian behavioral tendencies by having social models enunciate and act on a utilitarian social discourse. The influence of social models would also determine the interpretation of the discourse. Interpretation takes the form of indexical pro and con reactions—shi (this:right:assent) and fei (not this:wrong:dissent). The attitudes when associated with terms pick out the reality (object, action, etc.) relevant to the discourse guidance. We thus train the heart-mind to make distinctions that guide its choices and thereby our behavior—specifically in following a utilitarian symbolic guide. Utilitarian standards also should guide practical interpretation (execution or performance) of the discourse.

At this point in Chinese thought, the heart-mind became the focus of more systematic theorizing—much of it in reaction to Mozi’s issues. The moral issue and the threat of a relativist regress in the picture led to a nativist reaction. On the one hand, thinkers wanted to imagine ways to free themselves from the implicit social determinism. On the other, moralists want a more absolute basis for ethical distinctions and actions.

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