道情 Tao Emotions #28
© Tao Emotions - bone structure of Daodejing #36 (English commas added).
Copyright ©2019 June 28, 2019
Primitive Beliefs of Emotions
Not many years ago, most people believed in the science that stated that there was no water on the moon, nor on Mars, nor on any other heavenly body in the solar system except earth. People who disagreed with the science belief were hated-on and ridiculed by the believers. Today, the same science now admits that there is water on all or most all heavenly bodies, and the same science believers now also believe what their science has told them to believe. The science believers never apologized to the people that the believers mistreated.
Not many years ago, most people believed in the science that stated that there were only a relatively small number of colors that are visible to humans. People who disagreed with the science belief were hated-on and ridiculed by the believers. Today, the same science now admits that there are individuals who can see millions of colors, and the same science believers now also believe what their science has told them to believe. The science believers never apologized to the people that the believers mistreated.
There are countless similar examples of how science believers believed what they were told to believe, and then later the same science changed its mind, telling the believers to believe something else quite different.
Today, right now, most people still believe in the science, dictionaries, philosophies, and millions of books that state that there are only about six to ten emotions within humans. People who disagree with the science belief are hated-on and ridiculed by the believers. Someday, maybe, science might discover that the belief is absurd, and then tell the science believers to believe something different than what the believers are currently permitted to believe. The science believers will still never apologize to the people that the believers mistreated.
At the very moment when he perceives what is presented to his senses, the primitive represents to himself the mystic force which is manifesting itself thus. He does not "infer" the one from the other, any more than we "infer" the meaning of a word from its sound in our ears. According to Berkeley's shrewd observation, we really do understand the meaning at the time we hear the word, just as we read sympathy or anger in a person's face without first needing to see the signs of such emotions in order to interpret them. It is not a process accomplished in two succeeding moments, it takes place all at once. In this sense, then, preconnections amount to intuitions. (Primitive Mentality, Lucien Levy-Bruhl, translation by Lilian A. Clare, ©1922)
"Intuitions", similar to the previous article's comments of how Giles had used the 'intuition' word, now again is used within an inference of a mental act that is as if subconscious and not able to be observed by the conscious mind.
"When he perceives what is presented to his senses, the primitive represents to himself the mystic force which is manifesting itself thus", which today is witnessed within science believers. The believers have no clue of what the 'forces' might be, but the believers sincerely do believe that science knows what the forces are, and, so, therefore, somehow, believing in science somehow infers that the believers also know what the forces are.
The unusual may occur with comparative frequency, and the primitive's disregard of second causes is, as it were, compensated by an ever alert attention to the mystic meaning of everything that strikes him. Therefore observers have frequently remarked that the primitive, who properly speaking, is astonished at nothing, is nevertheless very emotional. His absence of intellectual curiosity is accompanied by extreme sensibility to the appearance of anything which takes him by surprise. (Primitive Mentality)
"Mystic meaning of everything that strikes him" is intimately parallel of how all known publicly available translations have interpreted the topics within Daodejing.
It is indeed the superabundance of these mystic data, and the existence of dominating preconnections between the data afforded by the senses and the invisible influences, which make the inferences that serve to develop our experience, needless in his case. They, too, prevent the primitive mind from adding to its mental stores by means of its experiences. When anything new presents itself to us we realize that we have to seek for an explanation of it, and that the number of our problems is going to increase at the same time as our knowledge is enlarged. The primitive, on the other hand, in the presence of anything new, knows already everything he needs to know. In any unusual event he immediately perceives the manifestation of an invisible force. Moreover, the primitive's mind is not, like our own, orientated to cognition, properly so called. It knows nothing of the joys and advantages of knowledge. Its collective representations are always largely emotional. The primitive's thought and his language are but slightly conceptual, and it is in this respect that the distance which separates his mind from ours may perhaps most easily be estimated. (Primitive Mentality)
"Knows already everything he needs to know" is also descriptive of individuals who believe in popular science. To the individuals, science already knows everything about everything, and, so, the believers do not sense a need to know anything themselves.
"Prevent the primitive mind from adding to its mental stores by means of its experiences" precisely again points to science believers.
In what way is "In any unusual event he immediately perceives the manifestation of an invisible force" any different than today's science believers excusing-away things with noun-words like 'electricity'?
"The primitive's thought and his language are but slightly conceptual, and it is in this respect that the distance which separates his mind from ours may perhaps most easily be estimated" speaks as much about the 'primitive mind' as it does the sciencian mind.
But in the first place, that which is contradictory has no terrors for the primitive mind. We know that it readily accommodates itself to that, especially when under the influence of a fairly powerful emotion, and in the circumstances we are investigating the Dayaks have a capital interest in evading bad omens. They have a passionate desire that such shall not appear. (Primitive Mentality)
It is a valid point that the greater the percentage of contradictions that an individual does not recognize, the greater is the individuals' mind judged as being inferior relative to the common human mind. However, today's science and general beliefs are satiated with large contradictions that ought to be obvious to everyone who is able to cross-light a thought.
The Primitive Mentality book is quite good for giving illustrations of how some cultures have expressed emotions that appear to be excessive to other cultures, but the book also — unintentionally — portrayed the author's culture and science to be similarly primitive as what was claimed of the 'primitive' people.
The question here is to ask how the topic of emotions relates to the written philosophies of Tao. Since the popular writings of the philosophy of Tao claim that the accomplished individual rids himself of all emotions, then it is useful and necessary to further investigate what the writings might have been intended of emotions.
Some cultures' histories portray the people as being excessively emotional for no known reason aside from the people having had, perhaps, a 'genetic-like' or socially-learned potential to express strong emotions (e.g. wailing, grief, etc.) for individuals that the people themselves did not personally know.
Within modern cultures, a wide variance of emotional responses is common. Some people are easily brought to a physical and vocal outburst of uncontrollable emotions when subjected to a tiny event in their life (sometimes referred to as being bipolar), while other people do not easily express much emotion beyond basic body language and normal tones of voice. The ranges of emotional behaviors as described within Primitive Mentality are still very much present in today's modern cultures.
Comparing today's common variances of how different people express emotions, the question is then asked if the Tao writings may have predominately pointed at individuals who were prone to physical and vocal outbursts of uncontrollable emotions.
When Lao Tzŭ died, Ch‘in Shih went to mourn. He uttered three yells and departed. A disciple asked him, saying: "Were you not our Master's friend?" "I was," replied Ch‘in Shih. "And if so, do you consider that a sufficient expression of grief at his loss?" added the disciple. "I do," said Ch‘in Shih. "I had believed him to be the man of all men, but now I know that he was not. When I went in to mourn, I found old persons weeping as if for their children, young ones wailing as if for their mothers. And for him to have gained the attachment of those people in this way, he too must have uttered words which should not have been spoken, and dropped tears which should not have been shed, thus violating eternal principles, increasing the sum of human emotion, and forgetting the source from which his own life was received. The ancients called such emotions the trammels of mortality. Musings of a Chinese Mystic - Selections From the Philosophy of Chuang Tzu, by Lionel Giles (©1906).
And there is one of the historical examples of people expressing strong emotions for individuals that the people were not closely related.
External punishments are inflicted by metal and wood. Internal punishments are inflicted by anxiety and remorse. Fools who incur external punishment are treated with metal or wood. Those who incur internal punishment are devoured by the conflict of emotions. It is only the pure and perfect man who can succeed in avoiding both. (Musings of a Chinese Mystic)
Any person who is able to hear a voice, ought to also be able to hear the emotions within the voice, but, it is a reality of life that most people cannot hear emotions within voices. People still vote for lying politicians, people still believe what crooks say, and there exists billions of new examples each and every day that the normal human being cannot hear emotions within voices.
It is a strong contradiction and absurdity for an individual to claim to be 'emotionless' while his voice still carries emotions, but it is all but certain that Chuang Tzu's and all other 'enlightened' masters' voices were full of emotion.
Giles' interpretation of the book's text permits the rational potential of an individual choosing which emotions that the individual chooses to express. Similar is from Zhong Yong's section #1: 'Happy anger, sorrow joy, it have-not expressed, call it middle... express and always middle temperate, call it peace'.
If the book's text were interpreted relative to Confucian ideas, then the Tao-enlightened individual is as a junzi, but today's science does not permit a belief in self-control of one's own emotions, rendering the ability of self-control to be scientifically evaluated similarly as Primitive Mentality's: "mystic meaning".
Yes, the ability to self-control one's own thoughts and emotions, ought to be a mark of an active and stable mind, but, here, might it have also been the mark of 'Tao enlightenment' to some individuals who lived during eras of when the common person was excessively emotional?
If you would attain peace, level down your emotional nature. If you desire spirituality, cultivate adaptation of the intelligence. If you would have your actions in accordance with what is right, allow yourself to fall in with the dictates of necessity. For necessity is the Tao of the Sage. (Musings of a Chinese Mystic)
The quote contradicts other quotes, but the idea is generally agreeable and appears to possibly fit the general concept that the sought-after 'peace' is merely that of having a stable mind that has self-control and does not permit outbursts of unnecessary emotions.
With all signs of emotion gone, one plunges into a state of boundlessness, lightness, blissful fluidity, tranquil independence. (The Spirit of Tao, Thomas Cleary, ©1993)
Still the signs of emotions within voices, body language, facial expressions, and aromas will remain, but, the sentence's apparent intention is to speak of the letting-go of the commonly known emotions of happiness, anger, and similar. Since it is uncommon for people to know what an emotion is, then no description will be given here to enable the differentiation between different types of 'emotion', but for the moment will the popularly known emotions of happy, anger, etc. be given the noun-word of 'gross' (gross as in 'quantity of expression', not gross as in 'repulsive').
It is easy for some individuals to merely let one's gross emotions to cease, to turn-off the emotions, as easy as changing one's heart rate, or increasing or decreasing blood circulation and warmth to whichever body portion wished. Some individuals have good control over their own minds and bodies, but most people appear to have little or no control at all.
And yes, Cleary's interpretation has validity... 'tranquil'. Mentally turning-off the gross emotions, mentally choosing to cease the gross emotions, enables an end to stress, while also enabling an awareness of how tranquil the inner self really is.
And might this be what some of the philosophies of Tao pointed to?
Once craving is eliminated, everything will disappear—desire, aversion, attraction, sorrow, fear, anger, ego, emotion. All will end with this craving. But people stick to craving as though they have fallen into an abyss. Though they try to swim out, there is no shore. ...When you can roam playfully, going in and out of the world without becoming influenced or attached, then you humbly seek the secret of the mysterious pass and refine the three treasures. (The Spirit of Tao)
If the writings believe that craving is the root of emotions, then the question naturally arises: is not 'craving' an emotion?
Modern science continues to claim that all emotions are based upon desires and other forms of selfishness, which is parallel to the idea of 'primitive' writings of 'craving'.
To learn the Way we first kill off the chief hoodlum. What is the chief hoodlum? It is emotions. We need to wipe out that den of thieves to see once again the clear, calm, wide open original essence of mind. Don’t let conditioned senses spy in. What is this about? It is about quelling the mind. One removes emotions to quell the mind, then purifies the mind to nurture its great elixir. (The Spirit of Tao)
The philosophy may appear astute to some individuals, but the philosophy appears to be very weak to other individuals. For some individuals, when the gross emotions are let-go, and are ceased, the mind is not quelled at all, but rather the mind changes focus and becomes far more aware of self and outside of self. With gross emotions turned off, the individuals' minds can think more clearly, process more thoughts, analyze more, reason more, apply clearer logic — even do large mathematical calculations if chosen — and in all ways experience a sharper and more active intelligence.
But, if the philosophy were aimed towards a culture of which has people who tend to have outbursts of gross emotions, then the philosophy is speaking of something different, of a different approach to 'quell' a different mind. And there, that returns to the reality that no two people on earth are identical, the same, nor equal, and, therefore, one teaching of a 'way' cannot be valid for everyone.
Some individuals have shared amongst themselves that they self-taught themselves how to turn-off their gross emotions because of circumstances within their childhoods. The turning-off of emotions was necessary as a means of enduring the psychosis of other people, as a way to not merely 'not care', but to actually fully ignore and to not mentally process external events within the individuals' normal methods of self-relating perception.
People ought to be cautious to not readily believe a philosophy to be true merely upon the grounds of the philosophy claiming of itself to be true.
Sometimes people — having formed preconceived beliefs of what they believe an ancient text ought to say — will change the original text's words to fit the preconceived belief. The following is a good example that also includes another direct reference to the belief that Tao ought to be within the absence of all emotions.
"He who stands on his tiptoes does not stand firm ; he who stretches his legs does not walk easily. So, he who displays himself does not shine ; he who asserts his own views is not distinguished ; he who vaunts himself does not find his merit acknowledged ; he who is self-conceited has no superiority allowed to him. Such conditions, viewed from the standpoint of the Tao, are like remnants of food, or a tumour on the body, which all dislike. Hence those who pursue the course of the Tao do not adopt and allow them." (The Original Chinese Texts, O. Shimizu & M. Hirose, translation by James Legge, Hongkong, China, 1861, section #24 of Daodejing)
[footnote] "'Painful Graciousness.' The chapter should be so designated. This concludes the subject of the two previous chapters, —pursuing the course, the course of the unemotional Tao without vain effort or display. The remnants of food were not used as sacrificial offering;— see the Li Ki... In what I have rendered by 'a tumour attached to the body', the 行 is probably, by a mistake... 'Which all dislike' is, literally, 'Things are likely to dislike them,' the 'things' being 'spirits and men' as Wu explains the term." (The Original Chinese Texts)
The footnote is the most valuable for it presenting the commonly interpreted — and forced — idea of the "unemotional Tao". The comment of 行 possibly having been an incorrect word is not uncommon because there are numerous variations of Daodejing with slightly different wording.
The following is a loose word-per-word quick-draft of Daodejing section #24:
Hope person-ist, not now... straddle person-ist, not walk... from see, not understand... from straight, person-ist not clear... from dissect, person-ist not result... from restrain, not grow... him dwell dao [也 particle no meaning; 'also'; pause in sentence; end of sentence], say: excess-surplus meal burden-unnecessary walk... thing confuse badness, it reason have dao person-ist not place.
Legge's words, although some are plausible, are also awkward, forced, scholarly, third-hand point of view, authoritarianistic, dogmatic... and silly...
The original words, appear sensible... firsthand point of view... self-explanatory... sentences harmonize... and require no force of meaning... pattern, flows, smoothly...
Emotions are not Identical
The above quotes are but a tiny example of the common beliefs that 'Tao' is supposed to imply an emotionless existence, one of no expressed emotion... dry, callous, uncaring, unmindful... but somehow, contradictorily, still able to feel the human emotion of "bliss".
One of the things that the quotes all missed is the obvious fact that humans are not identical, nor the same, nor equal, and, therefore, there cannot be a singular way-path to a destination. The quotes' authors, obviously, not themselves able to write from a firsthand point of view, resulting in an outsider's point of view, of imagining all emotions are those seen within uncontrollable outbursts.
The alleged "bliss" that is often claimed, whatever it might have implied to the authors, it absolutely cannot be the same emotion of bliss for everyone... simply not possible, and yet the alleged 'enlightened masters' were not aware of the impossibility.
It is plausible and reasonable to suspect that different people have approached the 'Tao' way from different points of life, and have discovered an inner happiness for themselves, and then leaped to believe that their happiness must therefore be identical to everyone else's, plus be the one and only possible happiness. The belief, is very wrong, but also very expected... first tiny step in, first time experience, person might assume that the experience is as far as can be walked... but second step, the experience ten times greater... third step, a hundred... each step, exponentially greater results... if able to walk enough steps, can then recognize that there is no boundary of the 'happiness', no limitations of what is possible.
There are millions of different emotions... literally only limited by the number of humans, and the limitations of lifespans...
The idea of bliss, is like a single penny to a billionaire...
No limitations... no boundaries... root of Source... creative... chidao...
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Updated June 28, 2019
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