Words of Wisdom #64, #65 & #66

“Nothing’s worth as accepting one’s own fate, hard as it may be!”.

-Zhuangzi

“Your nature and your destiny are not of your property: they are the course traced for you by sky and earth”.

-Zhuangzi

“The succession of life and death is decree of fate, as the alternation of night and day is decree of the sky. There are things that the human being can’t change: such is the condition of all beings”.

-Zhuangzi

“Master Yang answered: <<There is a saying of the ancients, that I try to remember and repeat you: all that is as it is, and we don’t understand why, is destiny>>”.

-Liezi

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Words of Wisdom #62

“<<Let me point out>> said Yuan Xian <<that being devoid of goods means only to be poor. Being miserable means not being able to put into practice one’s own knowledge. I am poor, but not miserable>>. Zi-gang moved back blushing. Yuan Xian added laughing: <<Behaving to please the world, being everyone’s friend, studying to become someone, teaching for selfish purposes, doing evil under the cover of goodness and equity, walking in sumptuous garments, these are the things that I will never accept to do>>”.

-Zhuangzi

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The Harmony of Opposites in Daoism

Daoism is an ancient Chinese philosophical tradition whose doctrinal foundations are found in three texts: the Daodejing, the Zhuangzi and the Liezi. I will quote some passages chosen from these works, which reveal a doctrine of opposites similar to that of Heraclitus also in relation to the concept of “panta rei” (“everything flows”):

“When in the world everyone acknowledges beauty as such,
that’s when ugliness is already present.
When everyone acknowledges goodness as such,
that’s when badness is already present.

Therefore being and non-being generate each other,
difficult and easy complement each other,
long and short define each other,
tall and low lean one towards the other,
before and after follow each other”.

-Daodejing

“What you want to contract you must first expand,
what you want to weaken you must first strengthen,
what you want to refuse you must first exalt,
what you want to take you must first give”.

-Daodejing

“Between night and day there is no separation and I don’t know at what moment they end”.

-Zhuangzi

“Under the sky everything sinks and resurfaces without ever perishing”.

-Zhuangzi

“Everything disappears and reappears, full and empty alternate, every end is also a beginning”.

-Zhuangzi

“Growth and decline, fullness and emptiness, end and beginning, here is the cycle of the world. In this way must be understood the great task that looms to each one, and the universal order that presides over all beings”.

-Zhuangzi

“Life transforms into death, death is the beginning of life. Life and death transform each into the other: why then should we be upset about them?”.

-Zhuangzi

“For those who know the heavenly joy life is a motion according to nature, death a change of form”.

-Zhuangzi

“The ten thousand beings (a peculiar daoist expression that refers to the infinite multiplicity of living forms that exist in the universe) and I are one single thing”.

-Zhuangzi

“The ten thousand creatures are one single thing, but what they find beautiful is vitality and individuality, what they find ugly is stench and putrefaction. But stench and putrefaction transform into vitality and individuality, vitality and individuality transform into stench and putrefaction”.

-Zhuangzi

“The ten thousand things transform incessantly and we don’t know what presides over the change. How can we know what is an end? How can we know what is a beginning?”.

-Zhuangzi

“The beginning is the end of something, the end is the beginning of something else”.

-Liezi

“What is born returns to the unborn, what has form returns to the formless. What lives must necessarily die and what dies cannot help but die, as well as what is born cannot help but be born. So the yin and the yang alternate, so the four seasons follow each other”.

-Liezi

Finally I would like to talk about the Taijitu, a well known daoist symbol:

The Taijitu:
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In this symbol Yin and Yang (the origin of this symbolic dualism [whose primal manifestation is identifiable in the “first couple” composed by Earth and Sky] is ascribed to the observation of the shadowed side and the sunny side of a mountain) are two necessary and complementary ways of being of the same reality (and in their maximum metaphysical dimension they represent the philosophical concepts of Becoming and Being, which, as a result of the coincidentia oppositorum [“coincidence of opposites”], appear as two ways of being of a single principle, two different manifestations of a same and single reality, the Dao [the word “dao” is represented by an ideographic character that unites the signs of the head and the foots, i.e. unites the complementary opposites in an undifferentiated totality], the Universal Totality, the definitive metaphysical reality where the opposites coincide), and their intrinsic interrelation is shown by the fact that at the culmination of each of the two there is a seed of the other: light and darkness are two subsequent aspects of a unique reality, their apparent distinction and opposition supports the harmony of a cyclical process. When the light energy, Yang, reaches its culmination, then begins to grow the dark energy, Yin, and vice versa, they transform constantly one into the other: the opposites generate themselves reciprocally and each is the other’s shadow.

Words of Wisdom #49

Kang-zi said to Yan Hui: <<Hui, come here. Your family is poor, your condition is humble. Why don’t you try to obtain a task of any sort?>>. <<No,>> said Yan Hui << I don’t want it. I have a small field out of the suburbs that produces the necessary for my soup and a bit of land in the city that produces me silk and hemp; To play the lute is enough to distract me; to meditate on the Tao is enough for my delight. No, I will not try to obtain a task>>. <<Excellent is your idea>> said Kong-zi, who had changed expression. <<I heard this: “Who knows how to be content with little doesn’t care of profit; who only cares to find himself doesn’t afflict himself for any loss; who seeks his own inner perfection doesn’t afflict himself for not having a social position”. For a long time I recited these words of wisdom. But only now I see them applied by Hui. The profit is mine>>”.

-Zhuangzi

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Words of Wisdom #34, #35 & #36

“With the audacity of our gesture we separated ourselves from the dominant mentality of the century; we killed a world in ourselves to establish another one, elevated up to the sky. The total dominion of matter was overthrown to be replaced by the predominance of the spirit, of the moral values”.

-Corneliu Z. Codreanu

“Our contemporaries put at risk their own person, and refuse life to sacrifice themselves to the external things. Isn’t it deplorable?”.

-Zhuangzi

“Discreet answered: <<Only the inner peace procures happiness. Every superfluous harms. So is for everyone, and nothing harms as wealth>>”.

-Zhuangzi

Matter exists (and if understood as energy then maybe everything is matter) and is indispensable, nobody should put in doubt its value and function. That said, if we Europeans will not embrace again our spirituality and traditions, as these have been understood by our ancestors and with all that this entails, only the animal instincts will remain us, and we may find that in this respect we are much less gifted than other human species.

Words of Wisdom #31

“The Ancients judged happy he who can no longer increase his happiness and not, like today, he who owns a carriage and a dignitary cap. The carriage and the dignitary cap belong to the person; they are neither part of man’s nature, nor of his destiny. If these goods rain down on him, it is only at provisory title: he can neither protect himself against their coming, nor prevent them from going away. One should not get excited because he owns a carriage and a dignitary cap. One should not get in tow of the common people, because he will find himself in a miserable situation. He who finds his happiness both in misery and in the carriage and dignitary cap, will be without worries. If the deprivation of provisional goods destroys happiness, it is because this was vain”.

-Zhuangzi

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Related post: About Stoicism

Words of Wisdom #30

“The gardener became angry, changed color and said scornfully: <<I learned this from my master: who uses machines uses mechanisms and his spirit mechanizes. Who has a mechanized spirit no longer possesses the purity of innocence and loses the peace of the soul. I don’t ignore the qualities of this machine, but I would be ashamed to use it>>”.

-Zhuangzi

Positive Technology: simple, silent and light manual tools activated by our physical movement, they are an extension of the human body and require skill and dexterity in their application despite being of simple access and maintenance.

Negative Technology: complex, noisy and heavy tools activated mainly by fossil fuels, man becomes their prosthesis and is limited to assist their work at the expense of the personal experience that diminishes or is null.

All that can be defined as negative technology has been developed, consciously or not, in compensation to our mental and physical degeneration: despite our limits we should always remember it and act accordingly!

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Words of Wisdom #27

“Knowing that against which nothing can be done and accept it as destiny: here is the supreme virtue”.

-Zhuangzi

Our freedom and will coincide with necessity and destiny, they are two sides of the same coin and one cannot exist without the other. Everything that happens during our existences, i.e. everything that has been established by our blood and spirit, is inevitable and right.

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Related post: Words of Wisdom #12