Essays on taoism

Jainism traces its roots to a succession of 24 Jinas (" those who overcome ", or conqueror) in ancient East India. The first Jina is traditionally believed to have been a giant who lived million years ago. The most recent and last Jina was Vardhamana (. Mahavira, "The Great Hero") He was born circa 550 BCE ) and was the founder of the Jain community. He attained enlightenment after 13 years of deprivation. In 467 BCE, he committed the act of salekhana which is fasting to death. Each Jina has " conquered love and hate, pleasure and pain, attachment and aversion, and has thereby freed `his' soul from the karmas obscuring knowledge, perception, truth, and ability... "

Moreover, it is not outer action that Taoism deems important; this in itself it looks upon as immaterial indeed and it expressly teaches the doctrine of "non-action" whose real meaning Westerners as a whole have some difficulty in grasping. It is true that they might have been helped in this by the Aristotelian theory of the "motor immobilis", which is fundamentally the same in meaning, but they never seem to have considered all that is implied in it. "Non-action" is not inertia; on the contrary, it is the fullness of activity; but it is transcendent and purely inward activity, unmanifested, in union with the Principle and therefore above all the distinctions and appearances which are commonly mistaken for reality itself, although they are only more or less distant reflections of it. One should also note that Confucianism itself, though its standpoint is that of action, nevertheless talks of the "unchanging middle", that is, of the state of perfect equilibrium, withdrawn from the incessant changes of the outward world. But in the case of Confucianism it can only be the expression of a purely theoretic ideal, and in its contingent realm it can grasp no more than a mere reflection of true "non-action", whereas Taoism is concerned with something quite different, namely with a fully, effective realization of this transcendent state. Placed in the centre of the Cosmic Wheel, the perfect sage moves it invisibly by his presence alone without taking part in its motion and untroubled by the need for any action whatsoever; his absolute detachment makes him master of all things, because he can no longer be affected by any. "He hath attained such perfect impassibility; for him life and death are alike indifferent, and the upheaval of the world would move him not at all. By penetration he hath reached the Immutable Truth, the Knowledge of the One Universal Principle. He letteth all the beings roll on according to their destinies, while himself he keepeth to the Immobile Centre of all destinies ... The outward sign of this inner state is imperturbability, not that of the warrior who for love of glory swoopeth down upon an army ranged in battle, but that of the spirit, superior to Heaven, to Earth and, to all beings, who dwelleth in a body for which he careth not, taking no account of the images perceived by his senses and knowing all, in his immobile unity, by a knowledge all-embracing. This absolutely independent spirit is the master of men; if it pleased him to summon them all together, all would run to his bidding on the day appointed; but he careth not to be served." [4] "If a true sage, much despite himself, had had to take charge of an empire, still keeping himself to non-action, he would make use of the leisures of his non-intervention by giving free rein to his natural bents. The empire would prosper for having been put in the hands of this man. Without bringing his faculties into play, without using his bodily senses, seated motionless, he would behold all with his transcendent eye; absorbed in contemplation, he would shake all like thunder; the sky would conform obediently to the motions of his spirit; all beings would follow the impulse of his non-intervention, as dust follows the wind. Why should this man seek to guide the empire, when letting it go on is enough?" [5]

Essays on taoism

essays on taoism

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