Showing posts with label Tao. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tao. Show all posts

Monday, July 21, 2014



True words are not pleasant; pleasant words are not true.
The good are not contentious; the contentious are not good.
The wise are not learned; the learned are not wise.

The holy man hoards not.
The more he does for others, the more he owns himself.
The more he gives to others, the more will he himself lay up an abundance.

Heaven's Reason is to benefit but not to injure;
the holy man's Reason is to accomplish but not to strive.

Translation by D. T. Suzuki and Paul Carus

Thursday, January 31, 2013

balinese Tao

The chinese symbol of Taijitu, expression of the circularity of polar opposites such life and death, is expressed in different ways in other eastern traditions and cultures.
For example in Bali, Indonesia, it is commonly observed drapes with a black and white chequerboard or clothes of the same type worn for ceremonies, to mean the inextricable mixing between opposites.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

the system of Tao

The symbol traditionally associated to Tao or, more specifically, to the Teh del Tao - the knowable manifestation of it, is the Taijitu, commonly known as the Ying-Yang symbol, tied to the male/female duality but - more generally- representative of any opposite duality.
The historical association between the symbol and the Taoism, and to its main text - the Tao-Teh-Ching - is not clear, however it represents then completely in its simplest and most synthetic form.
Drawing the symbol can be made by drawing an external circle and two internal circles of half radius, erase the two semicircles on the opposite sides and coloring - usually by white and black - the two remaining parts:
Graphic drawing of the Taijitu symbol.
The symbol represents a polar duality between opposite elements, different and distinct, and describes in general the eastern traditional vision of the polar duality opposed to the western logical one:
Symbolic representation of polar dualities
according to logic western vision (left), intermediate (center) an eastern (right).
In the western vision of classical logic of greek origin, symbolized by the circle to the left, it is drawn a distinction through two opposite and symmetrical elements/processes which, by logical definition, are not mixable and that together describe the totality where the dual distinction is drawn. For example dualities like day/night, negative/positive, war/peace, femminine/masculine and so are composed by opposite elements or processes and completely described the reference context where they apply. The resulting vision is completely static ande binary.
A further improvement starts from the consideration that these dualities are processes, and as such are dynamical; the circle to the middle illustrates a more dynamical vision between the polar opposite processes of the duality.
In the Taijitu symbol the dynamical vision of the polar duality processes and elements reaches at the same time its maximum simplicity and dynamical complexity of representation. Not only the polar processes have a recursive but there's also an interaction between polar processes and elements, shown by the two circular dots internal to the process of opposite sign.
The Taijitu symbol may be considered as a system, and therefore analyzed in its systemic characteristics:
  • System elements
They are symbolized by the two internal polar circles placed at the center of the symbol two semicircles, where the corresponding process of opposite sign reaches its maximum amplitude.
  • System processes
They are symbolized by the two polar symmetrical recursive polar shapes which together divide the external circle of the symbol. The reppresented dynamic is  è both of process and between processes.
  • Processes-elements interaction: system dynamics
The most complex feature of the symbol is the contemporary representation both of polar elements and processes, linked together through a specific dynamic.
At the point where an increasing process reaches its maximum and starts to decrease there's the presence of an element of opposite sign. This type of dynamics may be understood in different ways:

at the peak of its growth a process generates an element of opposite sign;
the presence of an element breaks the opposite sign process growth and makes it decreasing till reset;
lthe presence of an element induces an increasing process of the same sign which reduces the one of opposite sign;
  • Process amplitude
To determine the process dynamic is necessary to compute its amplitude as a function of some evolution variable. To define them the following model is used:
Model to compute process amplitude for the Tao symbol.
within the external circle Cext of radius R one draws the red C1 and blue C2 circles with radius R/2. To define a coordinate which is always in the middle of the process the green C3 circle is used with the center moved to the left of R/4 and 3/4R radius. The upper green semicircle defines a radial coordinate which remains always central to the process and that may be assumed as its evolution coordinate s for the upper semicircle of the symbol. For the lower semicircle the central coordinate is a vertical line segment of length R/2 perpendicular to the horizontal axis from the circle C2 center to its border.
The process amplitude may be defined, for any coordinate s=angle*3/4R with angle that varies from 0 to 180 degrees, as the distance between the P1 intersection point of the C3 radius extension withe external circle Cext and the intersection point P2 of the C3 radius with the C1 circle. For any s value in the upper semicircle the P1-P2 segment is perpendicular to C3 and to compute it the sine and cosine theorems are applied on the triangles defined by P1 and P2, where two sides and one angle are known.
For the lower semicircle the amplitude calculation as a function of s is immediate and coincides with a decreasing quarter arc of circle function with radius R/2.
The result for a symbol circle with radius R=1 is:
Process amplitude as a function of evolution for a unitary radius circle.
The process starts from zero, reaches its maximum value R for a s value of 3/4πR and decreases as a quarter of circle to  zero at the value 3/4πR+R/2.
The progress for the two opposite symmetrical processes is:
Polar two-processes amplitude as a function of evolution for a unitary radius circle.
which repeats itself indefinitely radially rotating clockwisee, where the beginning of a process coincides with the other's maximum.
The recursion may be displayed also by drawing in a linear way the shapes of the opposite processes:
that seems a wave, though it is not since not sinusoidal but composed by alternate semicircles.
  • System border: closure
The system border is the external circle Cext of radius R, which implies as the system dynamic is of the operational closure type. The two possible directions of rotation - clockwise and counterclockwise - are traditionally, like other symbols such the swastika, associated to a further polar duality - creative if clockwise, destructive if counterclockwise -.
  • System matrix
It is represented by the infinite plane external to the symbol and represents, in a necessary metaphorical way, the indescribable and unknowable Tao which the emergent symbol is the Teh:

- 25 -

There was something formless and perfect
before the universe was born.
It is serene. Empty.
Solitary. Unchanging.
Infinite. Eternally present.
It is the mother of the universe.
For lack of a better name,
I call it the Tao.

It flows through all things,
inside and outside, and returns
to the origin of all things.

The Tao is great.
The universe is great.
Earth is great.
Man is great.
These are the four great powers.

Man follows the earth.
Earth follows the universe.
The universe follows the Tao.
The Tao follows only itself.

Friday, September 14, 2012

the Teh of Tao: XLIII

"Yin Yang of World Hunger", Deevad on DeviantART
The softest of all things
Overrides the hardest of all things.
Only Nothing can enter into no-space.
Hence I know the advantages of Non-Ado.

Few things under heaven are as instructive as
the lessons of Silence,
Or as beneficial as the fruits of Non-Ado.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

introduction to Tao Logical Level 3 and beyond

M.C. Escher, Horsemen, 1946.
After the first (the beginning of this blog) and the second (the transition from inorganic to the organic life levels), the third quantum leap concerns terms such as:

co-(n)science     awareness         experience       god       Self   sacred     sacrament     aesthetics     moral          beauty        truth       existence     art    justice     values

and their synonyms and opposites.
Each of these terms cannot be considered purely of description, neither of meta-description (description of descriptions), since they describe either the referenced object and the subject which is describing. They can be considered terms at the boundary between logical level 2 of meta-description and 3 of meta-meta-description and - as such - they are not objectively definable; at this level the only possible verbal description are tales, poems, stories, witnesses of experiences, parables, metaphors and, ultimately, silence.

The territory indicated by these terms is entirely modelled by the principle of subjectivity, a region where:
No Place so Sacred from such Fops is barr'd,
Nor is Paul's Church more safe than Paul's Church-yard:
Nay, fly to Altars; there they'll talk you dead;
For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.
Distrustful Sense with modest Caution speaks;
It still looks home, and short Excursions makes;
But ratling Nonsense in full Vollies breaks;
And never shock'd, and never turn'd aside,
Bursts out, resistless, with a thundering Tyde!

Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1709

In the description process by a subject (the describer) of an object (the described) there are two types of relations (the description): the first - that commonly understood - of the description of the described by the describer, the second (since - generally - the object cannot describe the subject, unless it is another subject) the description of the subject which describes the object.
Description system within a specified context: the two opposite poles white and black are the describing subject and the described object; the two opposite processes are the description of the object and the description of the describing subject.
In this recursive process the subject the subject "shape" the described object exactly as the described object "shape" the describing subject.
The first process is the one commonly intended as "description": millions of texts, encyclopedic entries, videos, films etc. are its representation. It is to be noted that the description of a specific object may change, either because the subject changes, and because the interpretation of the object may be different. For example, the description of a diamond is very different if made by a solid-state physicist, a geologist, a gemologist, a jeweler or by the buyer, although the physical object is always the same. Also, the description depends on the state of consciousness of the subject: a subject in "normal" conditions, drunk or under the influence of drugs may give very different descriptions of the same object.
The "objective" description for excellence is the scientific one, based on the fact that, using the same method under the same conditions, different observers always obtain the same data; but, at the next level, the one of data interpretation to formulate a theory or to verify an hypothesis, the subjective component becomes evident - in fact in several fields different or opposite theories coexist based upon the same "objective" data. Furthermore, if till the knowledge domains level represented by physics, chemistry, biology, medicine, physiology and engineering the object of description has an its own physical materiality (but not its interpretation which - evidently- is purely mental), at next and nearby levels as cognitive sciences, sociology, psychology, anthropology and so on to end with philosophy, the object of the description is purely conceptual/mental and not physical, and often even the definition of what a certain discipline is and should describe is a matter of interpretation. The ultimate paradox occurs, naturally, when object and subject coincide, as in the case of the sciences of the mind, where entities like higher metal functions , cognition, consciousness, the "I" and the "self" are purely subjective.
The second process is referred to the fact that a description, generally, does not carry information or is neutral if it is not specified who is describing, and in which context. A relevant example are the descriptions, statements, interpretations, opinions, discussions, debates, surveys and so by the media, which give - generally minimally - information on facts and events and - in a greater way - information about themselves.
Through a description that a subject make of an object therefore one get information both on the describing subject as well on the described object, in a variable way between the two and linked to the description context.
As illustrated in the specific case of a cell, the description typology in addition to follow the hierarchy of systems and knowledge domains, also follows a map categorization according to the logical level at which description is made, with a transition between the two objective and subjective principles of description:
Logical levels of description.
Similarly, the logical categorization may be divided between the "external" object and the "internal" subject, where the first may be divided in the hierarchical structure of knowledge domains:
Logical levels of description for "objective" and "subjective" hierarchical levels.
At logical level 0 is placed the object or the subject of the description, the described, depending on whether the observation is turned externally or internally to the describer. At this level there are data and events processable by the scientific method, the activities-actions of the body-mind and the perceived data. This level lies entirely under the objectivity principle, and in western cultures, dominated by four centuries of science, is the one that commonly is intended as "reality".
At logical level 1 takes place the description of the described from a describing; as such it is represented by - literally - millions of books, papers, encyclopedic entries that in history have described the knowledge of the external and internal worlds. According to the subjectivity principle and the scientific method the specification "on the part of a describer" is obvious and redundant: if the description is valid, according to the scientific methods, then all the describers give the same description - but not necessarily the same interpretation -. This is the level typical of the scientific description of the "external world" in terms of organized data with meaning with theories, with terms like time, space, energy, form, structure, system, element, process, learning, evolution, local and global. Since postwar the tradition of first and second cybernetics in the field of general system theory, merged in today science of complexity, has noted that the term "on the part of a describer" is instead essential in the epistemology of scientific description, as already noted in quantum and relativistic physics. At this level, for the subjective "internal world", belong the structures of perception and the body-mind results of cerebral activities, like thoughts, reasonings, imaginations, emotions and feelings.
The logical level of meta-description is related to meta-models of complexity, as synergetic for physics,  dissipative structures theory for chemistry, the SOP meta-model and the concept of autopoiesis for biology. Epistemology, ontology, ontogenesis, philogenesis, emergence, cognition, organization, Pattern which Connects and 2nd order cybernetics are meta-terms of description which belong to this territory, according to Bateson's statement that, when one talks of complex systems - as living entities and their aggregates with related emergent phenomenawe should "follow the example of the entities about which we are talking": "It follows that when we talk about living entities, statements ... should always be labeled by reference to some descriptive proposition ...". " ... we shall see later, that every descriptive proposition is to be characterized according to logical typing of subject, predicate, and context." Also the structure of perception, considered, for example, in its complexity of body-mind-emotions interaction, is referred at this level:
The complexity of perception; from C.T. Tart, States of Consciousness.
The logical level 3 of meta-meta-description describe the territory generically named of the consciousness, to which the previous introduced terms belong where the description describes itself and the describer.
The description modalities of this territory are well expressed by a Bateson's story:

There's a story which I have used before... A man wanted to know about mind, not in nature, but in his computer. He asked (surely in his more polished Fortran):
'Will you ever think like a human being?' The machine then analyzed its own computational habits. Finally, it printed its answer on a piece of paper, as such machines do. The man ran to get the answer and found, neatly typed, the words
Mind and Nature, 1979

The human consciousness and the selfconsciousness is one of the key emergent and self-referential phenomena, which integrates in a subjective way objective physical issues of matter, time, space, energy with awareness and the whole of life experience:
Emergence of human consciousness; from C.T. Tart, States of Consciousness.
The guidelines of Global Dynamics Processes and Pattern that Connects will be continued based on the works and experiences of those, with extremely fear, have tried to travel and describe those essential territories   to which - for the mere fact of living - we belong.

Besides, beyond logical level 3, a series of witnesses and experiences and of models coming from various traditions commonly categorized as "sacred" - mainly eastern - indicate further territories of experience and observation beyond consciousness, and - as a matter of fact - beyond language, where the duality subject/object becomes again unitary. The boundary between logical level 3 and higher is the one defined by propositions 6.5, 7 of Tractatus, which state that if a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered, and answered correctly, whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. The witnesses of those who went forward and travelled these territories are in fact almost always expressed by silence; practices are instead indicated to reach and to know how to travel those territories, on the base that only a personal and individual  experience may led to knowledge, inexpressible in words. In this, advanced western science practices and those of eastern  inner knowledge are not so unlike, as noted by F. Capra:
“The parallel between scientific experiments and mystical experiences may seem surprising in view of the very different nature of these acts of observation. Physicists perform experiments involving an elaborate teamwork and a highly sophisticated technology, whereas mystics obtain their knowledge through introspection, without any machinery, in the privacy of meditation. Scientific experiments, furthermore, seem to be repeatable any time and by anybody, whereas
mystical experiences seem to be reserved for a few individuals at special occasions. A closer examination shows, however, that the differences between the two kinds of observation lie only in their approach and not in their reliability or complexity.
Anybody who wants to repeat an experiment in modern subatomic physics has to undergo many years of training. Only then will he or she be able to ask nature a specific question through the experiment and to understand the answer.
Similarly, a deep mystical experience requires, generally, many years of training under an experienced master and, as in the scientific training, the dedicated time does not alone guarantee success. If the student is successful, however, he or she will be able to ‘repeat the experiment’. The repeatability of the experience is, in fact, essential to every mystical training and is the very aim of the mystics’ spiritual instruction.”
For example in this territory there is the transition from the level 2 "mind", considered as the whole of cerebral processes and psychic functions, to the "Mind" of level 3, intended as "mind which observes the mind" and as immanent mind in a wider system then individual, to the "no-Mind", considered as a non-mental entity which observes, perceives and experiences the whole of the Mind. 
The experiences witnessed about the knowledge of these territories definable as "beyond consciousness" indicate how even the principle of subjectivity is exceeded, entering in "worlds" of perception and experience not only unknown, but even unknowable, totally aliens.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Tao: third quantum leap

Also, I believe that it will be necessary
to arrive more and more to a scientific knowledge
integrating the knowledge of the human spirit
to the knowledge of the object which this spirit seizes
and recognizing the inseparability
between object and subject.
Edgar Morin
All experience is subjective ...
it’s our brains make the images that we think we 'perceive'.
Experience of the exterior is always mediated
by particular sense organs and neural pathways.

To that extent, objects are creation,
and my experience of them is subjective, not objective.
It is, however, not a trivial assertion to note that very few persons,

at least in occidental culture, doubt the objectivity of such sense data
as pain or their visual images of the external world.
Or civilization is deeply based on this illusion.
Gregory Bateson
Socrates: What is good, Phaedrus,and what is not good
need we ask anyone else to tell us these things?
Robert M. Pirsig

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing
would appear to man as it is, infinite.
For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro'
narrow chinks of his cavern.
William Blake
The world, then,is finite and at the same time limitless,
limitless precisely because there is nothing outside
that together with the inside could form a boundary.
But if this be so, then it follows that
“The world and life are one. I am my world”.
Subject and world are thus no longer
entities whose relational function
is in some way governed by the auxiliary verb “to have”
(that one has the other, contains it or belong it)
but by the existential to be:
“The subject does not belong to the world, but it is a limit to the world”.
For nothing inside a frame can state, or even ask, anything about that frame.
The solution, then,
is not the finding of an answer to the riddle of existence,
but the realization there is no riddle.
Paul Watzlawick
6.5 For an answer which cannot be expressed
the question too cannot be expressed.
The riddle does not exist.
If a question can be put at all, then it can also be answered.
6.52 We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered,
the problems of life have still not been touched at all.
Of course there is then no question left, and just this is the answer.
6.521 The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of this problem.
(Is not this the reason why men
to whom after long doubting the sense of life became clear,
could not then say wherein this sense consisted?)
6.522 There is indeed the inexpressible. This shows itself; it is the mystical.
7. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Devi asks:
"O Shiva, what is your reality?
What is this wonder-filled universe?
What consttutes seed?
Who centers the universal wheel?
What is this life beyond form pervading forms?
How may we enter it fully,
above space and time,
names and descriptions?
Let my doubts be cleared!"

Vijñana Bhairava Tantra

It is always friday afternoon in Paradise
John Niven
Para mi solo recorrer los caminos que
tienen corazón, cualquier camino que tenga corazón.
Por ahí yo recorro, y la única prueba
que vale es atraversar todo su largo.
Y por ahí yo recorro mirando, mirando, sin aliento.

For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart,
on any path that may have heart.
There I travel,
and the only worth-while challenge
  is to traverse its full length.

And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.
Don Juan Matus

 We tried reasoning
our way to Him:
it did not work;
but the moment we gave up,
no obstacle remained.
Hakim Sanai
Those who believe in substantiality
are like cows
those who believe in emptiness
are even worse

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

the Teh of Tao: XLII - the Transformations of Tao


TAO gave birth to One,
One gave birth to Two,
Two gave birth to Three,
Three gave birth to all the myriad things.

All the myriad things carry the Yin on their backs and
hold the Yang in their embrace,
Deriving their vital harmony from the proper blending
of the two vital Breaths.

What is more loathed by men than to be "helpless,"
"little," and "worthless"?
And yet these are the very names the princes and barons
call themselves.

Truly, one may gain by losing;
And one may lose by gaining.

What another has taught let me repeat:
"A man of violence will come to a violent end."
Whoever said this can be my teacher and my father.

The translation is by John C.H. Wu in Shambhala Dragon Editions. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

the end of (english) Tao

The effort to carry on two parallel twins blogs (one in italian and this one in english) has exceeded the time and energies of the author.

If any reader is interested in topics/posts available only in the italian version please leave a comment on the blog or contact at the specified e-mail or use the available (poor) translation gadget tool.

Update: some selected posts will be still published in english under the Over the End of Tao tag.

Monday, May 16, 2011

the Teh of Tao

- 16 -

Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.

If you don't realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

the Teh of Tao

- 15 -

The ancient Masters were profound and subtle.
Their wisdom was unfathomable.
There is no way to describe it;
all we can describe is their appearance.

They were careful
as someone crossing an iced-over stream.
Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.
Courteous as a guest.
Fluid as melting ice.
Shapable as a block of wood.
Receptive as a valley.
Clear as a glass of water.

Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?

The Master doesn't seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.

Monday, March 14, 2011

the Teh of Tao

- 14 -

Look, and it can't be seen.
Listen, and it can't be heard.
Reach, and it can't be grasped.

Above, it isn't bright.
Below, it isn't dark.
Seamless, unnamable,
it returns to the realm of nothing.
Form that includes all forms,
image without an image,
subtle, beyond all conception.

Approach it and there is no beginning;
follow it and there is no end.
You can't know it, but you can be it,
at ease in your own life.
Just realize where you come from:
this is the essence of wisdom.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A western contemporary of Tao in Tao

 Hendrick ter Brugghen (1588, Utrecht – 1629, idem)

... because the appearance, and remember, only the appearance, remains the same.
Otherwise, everything changes and flows."


Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 - 475 BCE)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

totally Tao


quite Tao

not - Tao

Thursday, February 10, 2011

the Teh of Tao

- 13 -

Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is a dangerous as failure?
Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
you position is shaky.
When you stand with your two feet on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don't see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.

Friday, January 21, 2011

the Teh of Tao

- 12 -

Colors blind the eye.
Sounds deafen the ear.
Flavors numb the taste.
Thoughts weaken the mind.
Desires wither the heart.

The Master observes the world
but trusts his inner vision.
He allows things to come and go.
His heart is open as the sky.