Friday, November 24, 2006

Wing-tsit Chan also gives insight into the influences Daoism has had on Chan with the notion that the “Buddha-mind is everywhere and the Buddha nature is in all men.” Keeping with the spirit of Chinese thought, the Dao De Jing is also a very practical book in many aspects. Though it gives us a glimpse of what seems to be a very abstract, esoteric Dao, this notion is in fact not divorced from the realities of life for mankind. In what I feel is one of the more philosophically beautiful and complete chapters of the Dao De Jing, chapter twenty-five paints the following picture:

“There was something undifferentiated and yet complete, which existed before heaven and earth.

Soundless and formless, it depends on nothing and does not change.

It operates everywhere and is free from danger.

It may be considered the mother of the universe.

I do not know its name; I call it Dao.

If forced to give it a name, I shall call it Great.

Now being great means functioning everywhere.

Functioning everywhere means far-reaching.

Being far-reaching means returning to the original point.

Therefore Dao is great.

Heaven is great.

Earth is great.

And man is also great.

There are four great things in the universe, and man is one of them.

Man models himself after the Earth.

Earth models itself after Heaven.

Heaven models itself after Dao.

And Dao is the self-so.” (Translation by Wing-tsit Chan with minor alterations.)

Here we see that man is considered one of the four great things in the universe after the Dao, heaven and earth. Throughout the Dao De Jing, Lao Zi writes how the sage can come to rule through the identification with the Dao and bring about harmony within the world if men. Perhaps chapter twenty-five lays the groundwork for this identification in calling man one of the four great things of the universe. Speaking to critics who say thus that the book is a mystical one and devoid of value for the common man, Wing Tsit-chan says “This is most unfair. Although half the chapters (of the Dao De Jing) deal with the sage and how he should rule, the other half do not, and it is here that the most important ideas are expressed. Furthermore, the sage is no more than an ideal person, which everyone could become through the practice of the Dao. In the Chinese tradition in general and in Daoism in particular, everyone has the potentiality to become a sage. There is not the slightest hint in the Dao De Jing that the sage is a different species.”


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home