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My take on Laozi's Te

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This is my understanding of Laozi's Te, conveyed through the TaoTeChing.

 

 Many Taoist practitioners hold that Te means the strength found in Virtue, i.e. goodness, high moral standards, etc...  and they base their beliefs on translations of the TaoTeChing;  translations that unfortunately reflect the bias of the translator based on their own ideas and/or traditions.

 

My take is that Te is the inherent strength found in being true to your own nature. 

 

A mouse would not last long if it tried to function like a wolf. By using it's own mouse Te, it can scurry & hide, forage & breed, until it naturally becomes something's meal, lol.

 

Laozi conveys that if we stay with our natural Te, the gentle rain would fall (ttc32). He also conveys that few can do this... yet still he tried to point at that moon. (-:

 

 So what exactly IS the natural Te for humans? 

 

When I'm tired I sleep, when I'm hungry I eat. If my friend is hungry I give him food not because I'm supposed to, or because it's the "right" thing to do - but because he's hungry and I have food. Maybe it's just as simple as that. Or when we jump in a river to rescue someone without first thinking about it... it's in our nature.

 

Our natural Te is there, encoded at the cellular level imo, and the more we use it, allow it to rise unboundaried with our actions, the stronger our Te is. Rather, the stronger, the more efficacious, WE are - in every moment.

 

It's not surprising that Te is usually translated as (moral-ish) Virtue. When we stay true to who we are in our hearts, our actions would appear as being the 'right' ones. And they are... but not because we were taught about what is 'virtuous' or 'moral' or 'right' - but because it's just what we do.

 

Or so it seems to me. (-:

 

All thoughts welcome!

 

 

 

 

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8 minutes ago, rene said:

When I'm tired I sleep, when I'm hungry I eat. If my friend is hungry I give him food not because I'm supposed to, or because it's the "right" thing to do - but because he's hungry and I have food. Maybe it's just as simple as that. Or when we jump in a river to rescue someone without first thinking about it... it's in our nature.

 

I sense a Te <-> Wu Wei connection...

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, Jason said:

 

I sense a Te <-> Wu Wei connection...

Yes!!

Lol. WuWei is another thing mistranslated, misunderstood, frequently. It doesn't mean 'No Action' imo; it means actions arising from Wu (i.e., the Mystery, the same place from which Te arises). Effortless effort, and all that. Spontaneously. Naturally. Just like Te. (-:

Edited by rene

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4 minutes ago, rene said:

Yes!!

Lol. WuWei is another thing mistranslated, misunderstood, frequently. It doesn't mean 'No Action' imo; it means actions arising from Wu (i.e., the Mystery, the same place from which Te arises). Effortless effort, and all that. Spontaneously. Naturally. Just like Te. (-:

 

Ah ha!

 

If "Wu Wei" is "effortless action" then "Te" is "effortless integrity!"

 

@Steve need your input, man!

 

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If "Wu Wei" is "effortless action" then "Te" is "effortless integrity!"

 

 

Excellent!! Yes!!

B)

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1 hour ago, rene said:

This is my understanding of Laozi's Te, conveyed through the TaoTeChing.

 

 Many Taoist practitioners hold that Te means the strength found in Virtue, i.e. goodness, high moral standards, etc...  and they base their beliefs on translations of the TaoTeChing;  translations that unfortunately reflect the bias of the translator based on their own ideas and/or traditions.

 

My take is that Te is the inherent strength found in being true to your own nature. 

 

A mouse would not last long if it tried to function like a wolf. By using it's own mouse Te, it can scurry & hide, forage & breed, until it naturally becomes something's meal, lol.

 

Laozi conveys that if we stay with our natural Te, the gentle rain would fall (ttc32). He also conveys that few can do this... yet still he tried to point at that moon. (-:

 

 So what exactly IS the natural Te for humans? 

 

When I'm tired I sleep, when I'm hungry I eat. If my friend is hungry I give him food not because I'm supposed to, or because it's the "right" thing to do - but because he's hungry and I have food. Maybe it's just as simple as that. Or when we jump in a river to rescue someone without first thinking about it... it's in our nature.

 

Our natural Te is there, encoded at the cellular level imo, and the more we use it, allow it to rise unboundaried with our actions, the stronger our Te is. Rather, the stronger, the more efficacious, WE are - in every moment.

 

It's not surprising that Te is usually translated as (moral-ish) Virtue. When we stay true to who we are in our hearts, our actions would appear as being the 'right' ones. And they are... but not because we were taught about what is 'virtuous' or 'moral' or 'right' - but because it's just what we do.

 

Or so it seems to me. (-:

 

All thoughts welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

Is our true nature only this body and ego? Nothing more?

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24 minutes ago, Jason said:

 

If "Wu Wei" is "effortless action" then "Te" is "effortless integrity!"

 

Actually, to expand that a bit more (for those who might not be familiar with the lingo) - 

 

'Effortless action' still requires physical energy, but it is not encumbered with extraneous thoughts (which also take energy) or unnecessary movements.

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2 minutes ago, Tom said:

 

Is our true nature only this body and ego? Nothing more?

Expand how you are using the term 'ego' please? Thanks!

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Posted (edited)

@ rene

 

I like your interpretation, and I don't think it's very different from what is found in many modern philosophical books on Lao tse. Probably te also had a more magical connotation in Lao tse's own time, but developing that part of early Taoism falls outside the circle of philosophical Taoism. (Except possibly for the psychological sense of te as charisma.)

Edited by Zwerver

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Posted (edited)

From the first verse it is clear that Laozi exists within a dimension different to ordinary human beings.

From this place he can see many unusual things and insights, and he can understand that humans are not themselves.

But ... that does not necessarily lead to an answer for an ordinary human being.

 

Many or most human beings do not have an alternative to how they are.  They simply are how they are and that's it.

 

Natural meaning to have evolved beyond the conditioned unconscious human, and return to the objective flow, is a rather gigantic step, instructions not given.

 

Likewise Chuang Tzu says that he feels the hard joints coming, and he slows down and pays careful attention.

Why does he feel them coming, when other do not.

One answer is that he experiences phenomenon from the intelligence of the Tantien in the belly, he experiences phenomena from the vision of the underlying energy flows ... this is the intelligence of the Tantien.

How he comes to be like that I do not know, instructions not given.

 

Some of the observations about human life and the insincerity / delusion within it require several types of intelligence used together.   A knowledge of psychology, what people are thinking when they are interacting in certain situations.  These teachers are students of life.  To be like them one would also have to study life, and in particular situations consider what is really happening, what people are feeling and thinking, and what would actually be truth.  A student of several different things.

 

Both Laozi and Chuangtzu seem to have been scholars who studied wisdom texts.

 

All of which points to their state and understanding being the product of a great deal of work of one sort or another.

 

 

Edited by rideforever

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46 minutes ago, Zwerver said:

@ rene

 

I like your interpretation, and I don't think it's very different from what is found in many modern philosophical books on Lao tse. Probably te also had a more magical connotation in Lao tse's own time, but developing that part of early Taoism falls outside the circle of philosophical Taoism. (Except possibly for the psychological sense of te as charisma.)

Hi Zwerver, 

Nice to know that, thanks! I'm not Taoist, nor have I read books on Taoism, philosophical or otherwise, but hanging out in forums for a few decades has provided a bit of nomenclature.

I can see how Te could seem magical... and how it would spark charisma, lol. Seems we're drawn to people who have a natural way about them. Do you follow a Taoist path?

Thanks for your reply (-:

 

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2 hours ago, Jason said:

If "Wu Wei" is "effortless action" then "Te" is "effortless integrity!"

 

 

I like this, too. Wholeness is inherent. Lack of wholeness is misperception.

 

And so, "te", I would say, is the active, empowered principle of Tao - the way of restoring awareness of original wholeness (aka integrity), wherein living integrity, actively, is fully natural, and thus effortless. 

Again, I find the ocean (as a metaphor for awareness-consciousness-energy-actions) analogy useful: 

When waves conceive of themselves as separate from one another, and from the ocean - chaos ensues.

When a given wave opens to its own true nature as wholeness (the ocean, in this analogy) - that wave experiences its true nature - "waving", I guess you could say - seamlessly, fully, naturally - and quite differently from when it misperceived itself as being separate from the whole - as opposed to an expression of the whole.

 

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Posted (edited)

@ rene

 

I don't follow any particular path, but I read and think a lot. And I regularly do some "just sitting"-meditation.

Edited by Zwerver

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, rideforever said:

From the first verse it is clear that Laozi exists within a dimension different to ordinary human beings.

From this place he can see many unusual things and insights, and he can understand that humans are not themselves.

 

Agree. He abides equally in two places; one foot in the Manifest the other in the Mystery.

Both, same time.

 

Quote

But ... that does not necessarily lead to an answer for an ordinary human being.

 

Many or most human beings do not have an alternative to how they are.  They simply are how they are and that's it.

 

Natural meaning to have evolved beyond the conditioned unconscious human, and return to the objective flow, is a rather gigantic step, instructions not given.

 

Very true.

 

Quote

Likewise Chuang Tzu says that he feels the hard joints coming, and he slows down and pays careful attention.

Why does he feel them coming, when other do not.

One answer is that he experiences phenomenon from the intelligence of the Tantien in the belly, he experiences phenomena from the vision of the underlying energy flows ... this is the intelligence of the Tantien.

How he comes to be like that I do not know, instructions not given.

 

As a very young child, I used to fall asleep by sinking into my center, down to and through a vanishing point. It might be my perspective on things have been, and are still, influenced by that. Marblehead always wanted me to read ChuangTzu, and I started to once, but it felt like it was just Laozi's ideas all muddied up, lol, and the clarity of the TTC is enough for me. (-:

 

If there were a true instruction manual, or a religion/tradition that could teach Both, same time - then yeah - we'd be hip-deep in Buddhas, as some would say. 

 

Quote

 

Some of the observations about human life and the insincerity / delusion within it require several types of intelligence used together.   A knowledge of psychology, what people are thinking when they are interacting in certain situations.  These teachers are students of life.  To be like them one would also have to study life, and in particular situations consider what is really happening, what people are feeling and thinking, and what would actually be truth.  A student of several different things.

 

(added by rideforever later)

Both Laozi and Chuangtzu seem to have been scholars who studied wisdom texts.

 

All of which points to their state and understanding being the product of a great deal of work of one sort or another.

 

 

Perhaps. This is not an 'either/or' thing. If it were, study and learning alone would be enough for everyone to, as you phrased it above, "have an alternative to how they are.  They simply are how they are and that's it."

 

Thanks for your reply, most appreciated! :)

.

Edited by rene
Reply to rideforever's later addition

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31 minutes ago, Zwerver said:

@ rene

 

I don't follow any particular path, but I read and think a lot. And I regularly do some "just sitting"-meditation.

:)

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34 minutes ago, Doug said:

 

I like this, too. Wholeness is inherent. Lack of wholeness is misperception.

 

And so, "te", I would say, is the active, empowered principle of Tao - the way of restoring awareness of original wholeness (aka integrity), wherein living integrity, actively, is fully natural, and thus effortless. 

Again, I find the ocean (as a metaphor for awareness-consciousness-energy-actions) analogy useful: 

When waves conceive of themselves as separate from one another, and from the ocean - chaos ensues.

When a given wave opens to its own true nature as wholeness (the ocean, in this analogy) - that wave experiences its true nature - "waving", I guess you could say - seamlessly, fully, naturally - and quite differently from when it misperceived itself as being separate from the whole - as opposed to an expression of the whole.

 

Hi Doug- I really like this. Would you mind if I also start another thread with it? 

 

This part: And so, "te", I would say, is the active, empowered principle of Tao - the way of restoring awareness of original wholeness (aka integrity), wherein living integrity, actively, is fully natural, and thus effortless. 

 

is really well said. :)

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, rene said:

Expand how you are using the term 'ego' please? Thanks!

 

That which makes up the person known as Rene. The belief in, that persons hopes and fears. The identification of you as Rene.

Edited by Tom

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56 minutes ago, rene said:

Hi Doug- I really like this. Would you mind if I also start another thread with it? 

 

This part: And so, "te", I would say, is the active, empowered principle of Tao - the way of restoring awareness of original wholeness (aka integrity), wherein living integrity, actively, is fully natural, and thus effortless. 

 

is really well said. :)

 

Wouldn’t integrity be a local mind thing?

 

To me the Tao is emptiness, emptiness is infinite potential.

 

One of the chapters talks about being the stream of the universe.

 

Instead of integrity I think of clarity. Think of clarity as the pure thoughts before the local mind comes in and starts making judgments. Free of obstructions, issues and fears.

 

 

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3 hours ago, Tom said:

 

Is our true nature only this body and ego? Nothing more?

 

3 hours ago, rene said:

Expand how you are using the term 'ego' please? Thanks!

 

9 minutes ago, Tom said:

 

That which makes up the person known as Rene. The belief in, that persons hopes and fears. The identification of you as Rene.

 

Thanks for expanding :)

Using your terms, my take is that our true nature manifests through our body, unboundaried with and interacting with, ego.

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3 minutes ago, Tom said:

 

Wouldn’t integrity be a local mind thing?

 

'Integrity', as normally thought of,  would be.

The word, when used to describe Te manifesting, would be otherwise.

 

 

 

3 minutes ago, Tom said:

 

To me the Tao is emptiness, emptiness is infinite potential.

 

:)  We're talking about Te though... well, as best we can when words dont work. lol 

 

 

3 minutes ago, Tom said:

 

One of the chapters talks about being the stream of the universe.

 

Instead of integrity I think of clarity. Think of clarity as the pure thoughts before the local mind comes in and starts making judgments. Free of obstructions, issues and fears.

 

There is clarity for sure! I dont think we can label what it is that comes... but come it does,  providing the clarity to see. Think I heard the seeing called dao guan once... but I might not be recalling it right. @david ? Do you remember?

 

Thanks, Tom, for your thoughts on this. I'm enjoying reading your posts in other places too!

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6 hours ago, Jason said:

If "Wu Wei" is "effortless action" then "Te" is "effortless integrity!"

 

When I read it like that I realized they are nearly the same thing!  Very interesting.

 

I think the word effortless can be a bit misleading but it's better than whatever is in second place.

 

Once upon a time Lao Tzu wrote:  "The more you mess with stuff the more messed up it gets", so both wu wei, and Te require meesin' with other's stuff as little as possible.

 

Of course it is an important attitude requirement, that of "No fucks given," that makes it all work in the effortless manner.  Concerning attitude, the first overarching attitude is one of wishing the best for all other beings.  So the big question is how do you combine and attitude of wishing the best for others with an attitude of no fucks given? 

 

This defines on aspect of the warrior path or attitude.   Choices are impetuous, yet since one lives for life the choices are usually correct.  However, whether the choice proves right or wrong,  there are no regrets, it's in the past.  Wishing well, restraint, impetuous, and no regrets, those define both wu wei and Te.

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2 minutes ago, Steve said:

 

When I read it like that I realized they are nearly the same thing!  Very interesting.

 

I think the word effortless can be a bit misleading but it's better than whatever is in second place.

 

Once upon a time Lao Tzu wrote:  "The more you mess with stuff the more messed up it gets", so both wu wei, and Te require meesin' with other's stuff as little as possible.

 

Of course it is an important attitude requirement, that of "No fucks given," that makes it all work in the effortless manner.  Concerning attitude, the first overarching attitude is one of wishing the best for all other beings.  So the big question is how do you combine an attitude of wishing the best for others with an attitude of no fucks given? 

 

This defines on aspect of the warrior path or attitude.   Choices are impetuous, yet since one lives for life the choices are usually correct.  However, whether the choice proves right or wrong,  there are no regrets, it's in the past.  Wishing well, restraint, impetuous, and no regrets, those define both wu wei and Te.

By giving up 'either/or' thinking, lol.

You know it's Both, same time.

:D

Glad ya jumped in. Great post.

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10 hours ago, rene said:

My take is that Te is the inherent strength found in being true to your own nature. 

 

Short Answer:

Te is the quality of one's being when one follows Tao.

 

Long Answer:

Te is that state of one's being while relinquishing control over one's own manifest reality and accepting without reservation the flow of perception.

 

Really Long Answer:

Te is the way that you are when you stop being the boss of yourself and subordinate yourself to Tao. Tao "says" do this? OK, you do it! Tao "says" do that? OK, you do that! In this manner you have "integrity" in that you follow what Tao "tells" you to do, and thus your state of being - your nature - is Te.

 

Got it? Good, there will be a quiz...

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What kind of a world are we living in ?
99'% of the humans here are tin cans, filled with nonsense and chaos and nothing.

How much more destruction can they wreck.
It is like the Mary Celeste, a ship of ghosts.
They do not sense their own emptiness.

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