Tag: Taoism

Three Lesser-Known Figures in the Zen Tradition

All three emphasized the Tao side of Zen

I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone has heard of Shakyamuni (Gautama Buddha) and Lao-Tzu, the semi-historical founders of Buddhism and Taoism.

A lot of people have probably also heard of Bodhidharma, the 28th patriarch of Buddhism (and first patriarch of Zen Buddhism) who brought Indian metaphysics to China in 520 AD, where it started to mix with Taoism, leading to the entirely new phenomenon that we call “Zen.” See D. T. Suzuki, “History of Zen,” in Essays in Zen Buddhism.

But most of us in the West haven’t heard of the hundreds of other philosophers and monks in the Zen tradition whose insights and lives deserve attention.

Now, as a Catholic, I don’t believe these men merit the attention of the saints, but they do merit attention. They represent the highest attainment of natural philosophy.(FN)

By “natural philosophy,” I primarily mean “philosophy without any revelation.”

The Zen tradition is almost entirely deprived of Christian revelation. More troubling, its ontology is monistic, meaning that it presumes there is not even a transcendent being (God) that could impart revelation.

It wouldn’t be accurate to call Zen “atheistic,” but it wouldn’t be inaccurate either.

As far as philosophical traditions go, you could argue that Zen is the one tradition that, through its premises and practices, has done everything possible to deprive itself of grace. I’m not saying it is deprived of grace (and I’m inclined to think that, despite its unknowing attempts to eliminate grace, it has received it in spades nonetheless), but any grace it receives is applied solely on the natural plane.

Yet Zen’s insights are enormous and important. Its insights are often wrong and incomplete, but that’s unavoidable in a tradition that denies one-half of existence … Read the rest

How to Live Like a Zen Master

Lessons from spiritual adepts from various traditions tell us the same thing: Cultivate the eyes of a child

In the seventh century, Hung Jen, the fifth patriarch of Chinese Zen Buddhism, neared death. In order to choose a successor, he asked each monk to compose a verse that testified to the monk’s Zen insight and post it on the wall. Shen Hsiu, the illustrious heir apparent, composed the following:

The body is the Bodhi-tree,

The mind is like a clear mirror standing.

Take care to wipe it all the time,

Allow no grain of dust to cling to it.

An uneducated kitchen worker named Hui Neng disagreed with the verse, and wrote beside it:

The Bodhi is not like a tree,

The clear mirror is nowhere standing.

Fundamentally not one thing exists:

Where then is a grain of dust to cling?

The Patriarch favored Hui Neng’s verse and appointed him successor. Zen at this point split into two schools, the Northern School (under Shen Hsiu) and the Southern School (under Hui Neng). The Southern School became the dominant school and the doctrines now associated with Zen are from the Southern School. Although this popular account of a famous split in early Zen is often disputed the key lesson remains: don’t wipe the mirror.

Pure Self is Still Self

Zen as it developed in the Southern School has always disdained mirror wiping because, by emphasizing the mirror, the “mirror wiper” asserts that he or she is renouncing the self in order to create a pure self — with the result that either way he or she is focused on him or herself. His or her self may become more pure, but it continues to stand strong.

It’s the religious version of having your cake and eating it, too.

Zen tries … Read the rest

How Many Beers Does It Take to Find the Tao?

C.S. Lewis would’ve said “zero.” It’s the Tao that helps you find the beer.

It is Nature, it is the Way, the Road. It is the Way in which the universe goes on, the Way in which things everlastingly emerge, stilly and tranquilly, into space and time. It is also the Way which every man should tread in imitation of that cosmic and supercosmic progression, conforming all activities to that great exemplar.

That’s C.S. Lewis writing about the Tao in his famous book, The Abolition of Man. Since the book’s publication in 1947, Lewis’s name has been associated with the Tao because of his love and respect for the natural law it embodies.

But I associate Lewis with the Tao for a different reason: his beer drinking.

You see, Lewis spent many Tuesday mornings at the Eagle and Child public house drinking beer with J.R.R. Tolkien and other friends.

It’s vintage Lewis. Although he was at times melancholy, Lewis could find enjoyment almost anywhere doing almost anything: attending church, taking long country walks, living at his humble Kilns, tutoring students, writing theology or children’s fiction, teaching.

The difference between enjoying and enjoying the enjoying

Lewis’s capacity for enjoyment stemmed at least partly from the early influence of a little-known Australian philosopher named Samuel Alexander.

Alexander pointed out the distinction between enjoying something and being aware of the enjoying. Here’s how Lewis put it:

“Enjoyment and the contemplation of our inner activities are incompatible. You cannot hope and also think about hoping at the same moment. Of course, the two activities can and do alternate with great rapidity, but they are distinct and incompatible. . . The surest way of spoiling a pleasure [is] to start examining your satisfaction. . . [N]early everything that was going on a moment

Read the rest

Former NHL Goon Turns Catholic . . . After Winning All-Star MVP Honors

Photo by Matthew Fournier on Unsplash

 “They challenged my manhood, challenged my role as a father. They were really just questioning my morals. It was very personal, and at that time I was really starting to grow into my faith. My wife was really instrumental in me going to the game.”

John Scott, about his election to the 2016 NHL All-Star Game and the NHL’s efforts to derail it

There’s a great story at Relevant Radio about 6’8″ defenceman/winger John Scott. A radio program launched a successful campaign to vote him captain of the Pacific Division. The NHL balked and ruthlessly tried to foil it. Scott persisted, played in the game, scored two improbable goals (he only scored five in his entire career), and was named MVP.

There is now a movie being made about it.

Debate

I could only watch for an hour. Biden stumbled out of the gate, showing an inability to keep a chain of thought . . . and Trump let him off the hook by interrupting him repeatedly. I think Trump missed a golden opportunity, and Biden came off favorably. Victory to Biden, based on those first 60 minutes.

Critical Race Theory

There’s a pretty good summary contained in this story: Trump Order Dealing Unprecedented Blow to Critical Race Theory:

The theories are based on the Marxist concept of “struggle,” pitting races and sexes against each other by labeling them “oppressors” and the “oppressed.” It then reinterprets society and history as being rooted in this “struggle.”

Something New Under the Sun

Changes are coming to The Daily Eudemon. You’ve probably been noticing them over the past few weeks. With this post, I launch into a new layout approach. Please forgive any awkward formatting.

Why the changes?

Well, quite frankly, I’ve been greatly encouraged … Read the rest