ASIAN THOUGHTS 8
Inthe Tao of Pooh, two concepts that are central to the teaching of Taoare presented. One is called P`u(the Uncarved Block),and the other is Wu Wei (Doing without doing). In your words,describe these two teachings of Taoism.
Taoof Pooh is a book authored by Benjamin Hoff and it is intended topresent an introduction to the Eastern belief system of Taoism forthe Westerners. The book employs the use of fictional characters toexplain the basic philosophical principles of Taoism (Hoff& Ernest, 2003).Taoism drew its cosmological notions from the tenets of the School ofYin Yang,and it isheavily influencedby the oldest text of ancient Chinese classics that prescribes thesystem of philosophical thoughts on the ethics of human behaviors. Onthe same notion, sometimes Taoism is referred to as Daoism. However,itlaterhas diverged sharply from the Confucian thoughts by abandoning socialclasses and rituals. Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize threeJewels of Tao and these are compassion, humility, and moderation.
Taoismhas different mechanisms and concepts within the system of theeastern philosophy. Wu Weiisonesuch concept. The literal meaning for Wuweiis “without action”. Elsewhere it is expressed by the paradox WeiWuWei,which means action without action. The role of Wuweiis alignment with Tao, revealing the both the invisible power andsoft within all things (Hoff& Ernest, 2003).It isbelievedthat the masters of Wuweihave the capacity to control the hiddenpotential, the innate yin-action of the way. In the ancient Taoisttexts, is associated with water through its flexiblenature. Water is weak and soft, but it can movecarvestone and earth. Taoist philosophy proposes that the universe worksharmoniously according to its way. In case someone exerts his willagainst the world, he disrupts the harmony. However, Taoistphilosophy does not propose man’s identity as the root problem,rather, it asserts that man must place his will when it comes withthe natural universe (Laozi,Victor & Dan, 1997).
Onthe other hand, P’u,another philosophical concept in Taoism, is translated as “uncarvedblock”. It is still a state of Wuweiand the principle of jian.The concept represents a passive state of receptiveness. It is asymbol for a state of pure perception and potential with noprejudice. In this state, Taoist believes everything should beseenas it is underno illusion nor preconceptions. P’uishere perceivedas keeping oneself in the primordial state of Tao. Philosophers inthis field believe it is agenuine nature ofthe mind, unburdened by experiences and knowledge. More so, in thisstate, there is wrong or right, beautiful or ugly. What existsis a pure experience, or awareness, free from scientificdefinitions and labels.
BothP’u and Wu Wei describe Taoism. As mentioned before, Taoismrepresentsthe various Chinese religious, and philosophical traditions, andconcepts. Theemphasis is on the link betweennature and the people,and this lessens the need for rules and order leading to a betterunderstanding of the world. Also, there is traditionaluse and mention of nature and ancestral spirits in Taoism. P’u andWu Wei describe these situations and concepts (Ram,2004).Wu Wei,for instance,is aligned with Tao since it reveals the soft and invisible powerthat exists in all things. Furthermore, because of the harmony thatexists between nature and human beings, Wu Wei suggests that in casean individual exerts his will against the world, the respectiveindividual disrupts the balance.On the other hand, P’u alsodescribesthe passive state of receptiveness. There is nothing wrong, right,ugly, or beautiful since everything exists in a state of harmony. Thephilosophy contributes to Taoism.
TaoTe Ching in Chapter 2 describes the use of Wu Wei concept regardingthe invisible power that can beseenin the world and its beauty (LaFargue,Michael, Laozi & Tao,1994).The complementary coexistence of the different factors in theuniverse the bad, and the good, low and high, and the ugly and thebeautiful. The poetic words describe the nature of the universe, andthe how WuWei aligns with the Taoism. The soft and invisible power that makesthe coexistence of the different factors workcomplementing each other. The overworking of one factor might work tooverrule the other.
Theuse of P’u on the other hand, also called uncarved wood, is wellillustrated inChapter28 of Tao Te Ching (LaFargueet al,1994. The author uses metaphors like black to indicate carvings ofthe wood on our personality and white to indicate the simplicity wewerecreated with.The language further illustrates the mistakes made by human beings inabiding in black (wrong) that shows the return to carved wood nature.However, P’u suggests that our personality is as uncarved woodadorned with simplicity.
Hinduismaccepts the fact that reincarnation is the result of karma (a statethat reflects the approximatevalue of the totality of human actions whether they are rightor wrong)and the body in which one isreincarnatedreflects the quality of karma one has accrued in life. Hinduism is apolytheistic religion. It lacks a single central text although theHindus universally accept Vedasas divine revelations. The Vedas is one of the most central Hindtexts,and they compromise four in number. These include Rig, Sama, Yajurand Atharva.Vedas is a collection of invocations and hymns that are thought to bedivinely inspired (Ram,2004).
TheHindu culture began to be more detailed. There arose structuresurrounding the rules for ritual knowledge (Veda) and ritual action(Karma) and their respective role in salvation, the joining of thefathers in heaven. The Brahmins began to take control of the rituals.The path to the World of Fathers did requirenot only ritual knowledge and action at the time of deathbut also its continuation in one’s descendants. The absence ofproper action and knowledgeone would be reborn again on earth (Lebron,2012).
Oneof the philosophical texts, the Upanishads, addresses the creation ofnewmetaphysical systemsthat intently question the permanence of not only this world but alsoof the world of the fathers also. This new tradition maintains thatthe essential self, also called Atman,in its essential nature, is free from all change. It further statesthat the ignorance of the true nature of selfis the fundamental cause of suffering. The essential selfhasthe physical body, subtle body and causal body. From the physicalbody, originates in timechanges and perishes. The subtle body on the other hand, as recordedin Karma, survives the death of the physical body and accounts forreincarnation in the Hindu faith. Thesubtle body is made of the fivesense organs, vital forces, the mind and the intellect. The causalbody, on the other hand, manifests itself in deep sleep.
Theseparation of the subtle body from the physical body isdefinedas death in Hindu faith. From the Upanishad scholars, it is believedthat the thoughts, desires, and actions of an individual could resultin a rebirth of the subtle of the bodyin a new physical body. Karma is something to be “worked off” incase it is bad karma or rewarded inthe event of goodkarma. One with a bad karma may bereincarnatedas an animal or lower social caste status,and they will continue with rebirth until their bad karma isentirely dissipated.On the same, those with good karma maybereincarnated in the world of the fathers, a temporary dwelling, andeventually re-enter the cycle of birth, death and rebirth after thesufficient reward of the good karma (Lebron,2012).Upanishad thinkers, record that freedom from rebirth was onlypossible by an individual giving up all desirousaction, and this was only possible if one realized that atman was notpart of the transientphysicalbody.
Inthe view of the afterlife, the selfwaspure consciousness and its nature identical with Brahman,which is the unchanging reality of the universe. The primarygoal of the Upanishads was less on the transient World of the Fathersbut more on the notion of escape from rebirth. The escapewas entirely usingknowledge,and this was preciselythe fundamental identity of atman with the Brahman. The Upanishadstherefore, not only emphasize the good karma path but also of propereducation,and for this to happen one must enter advanced stage of life thatabandons all personal relationships, family ties and possessions.
However,there is also another approach to permanent salvation for the elitesof the society. Thisincludesthe Vedic rituals and the Upanishads path of knowledge. The methodrequired the Brahmins to teach people on the same. The caste systembelieves that those of low birth are the product of bad karma. Themethod denies access to the majority Hindus not qualified bybirth to the Vedic study.
Onefactor that separates us from Brahman, escape from rebirth is thelack of knowledge, the fundamental identity of the realself, atman. The path of proper knowledge is also called jnana. Asmentioned earlier, for the attainment of this goodunderstandingone must enter advanced stage of life in which they abandon allfamily ties, personal relationships and possessions. More so, theevil of Mayaprevents us from knowing our real self and nature and thatsurrounding us. Jnana directly renders the veil and then tearing itthrough a two-pronged approach.
Jnanais one of the Yogas that can helpus free ourselves from the factors that separate our union withBrahman. The path of knowledge under description is not intellectualbut the knowledge of Brahman, Atman and the realization of theirunity. The devotee of God follows the promptings of the heartthejnaniuses the power of the mind to discriminate between real and unreal.Here the devotee,think of God as distinct from themselves toenjoy the sweetness of the relationship (Lebron,2012).Jnanisby contrast, know that all duality is ignorance and that there is noneed to look outside for divinity, an individual is already a divine.
Thephilosophy of self-affirmation is one of the approaches to Jnana andbuilding of a closerelationship with Brahman. As humans, we have to drum up support forthe right thoughts about ourselves. Sometimes we create wrongimpressions in our minds and so we must reverse the process byallowing ourselves to develop the rightideasof purity, strength, truth. For instance, the use of the AshtavakraSamhita that declares that an individual is spotless, tranquil, pureand beyond nature that all the time under control of the wrongthoughts was the deception based on illusion.
Jnanayoga uses considerable mental power to know that ashuman beingswe are and will always be perfect, immortal, and infinite. We will nolonger be confined to painfullimitations of self-centerednessand will see Brahmanin everything and everywhere.
Hoff,B., & Shepard, E. (2003). TheTao of Pooh.London: Egmont Print.
LaFargue,M., & Laozi.,. (1994). Taoand method.Albany: BState University of New York Press.
Laozi.,Victor, M., & Dan, H. (1997). Taote ching.Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications.
Lebron,R. (2012). Searchingfor the Spiritual Unity … Can There exist a Common Ground?: TheBasic Internet Guide to the Forty World Religions & SpiritualPractices.Bloomington: Ind: Crossbooks Publishing.
RamDass.,. (2004). Pathsto God: Living the Bhagavad Gita.Three Rivers Press.