Is Taoist Thought Antithetical to the Pursuit of Freemasonry?

Discussion in 'Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality' started by jjjjjggggg, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. jjjjjggggg

    jjjjjggggg Premium Member

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    For all my brothers interested in eastern philosophy, what are your thoughts on the teachings of Taoism and are they contrary to Freemasonry's pursuit for "more light".

    For those of you that don't know, Taoism, at least the philosophical aspect, teaches that, more or less, the pursuit of enlightenment is an empty pursuit.

    Personally, I don't believe the two philosophies are antithetical, and that much can be appreciated from philosophical taoism (as well as in the other eastern traditions). I think on the surface of Taoist thought it seems that the pursuit for more light is a waste of time, but the end goal of taoist thought is realization, a common goal in freemasonry.

    Feel free to share your thoughts on the other eastern traditions, such as Advaita, Zen, etc.

    And for those of you that get the joke, kyosaku for the tyler?
     
  2. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    Brother, on more than one occasion I have had to ask myself very seriously if my beliefs were consistent with the principles of the organization to which I was seeking admission. Now, please notice that the previous sentence is very carefully constructed. It asks, "are my beliefs consistent with their principles?". To do an adequate job of answering this question I am compelled to ask both "how close are my beliefs to the Truth" and "do I actually understand their principles?". These are weighty questions and are not easily answered.

    On at least one occasion I decided to change the way I defined certain words in order to navigate the murky depths of understanding and compliance. Whether my original or my subsequent definition was more correct is still an unknown to me. Many people have been given a belief and taught that it is absolutely right. I am without this absolute certainty.

    I am always wary of those who claim to know absolute truth, for surely some of them are wrong. Those who claim to that they do not possess absolute truth are almost certainly correct.
     
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  3. BryanMaloney

    BryanMaloney Premium Member

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    Tao cannot be pursued because Tao is already here. To pursue Tao is to chase yourself in a circle until you die from exhaustion. You will never find it. Tao is about doing without doing. Striving is not Tao, it pulls you away from Tao.
     
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  4. dfreybur

    dfreybur Premium Member

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    The translation of the Tao Te Ching that I read refers to the "evolved man" and that it is a goal to become such a man. That's Masonic pursuit of personal excellence to me. It's the bottom-up phrasing.

    There is also a stanza that when the Emperor desires the Tao to pervade the Empire he must foster personal excellence among his subjects. That's Masonic pursuit of personal excellence to me. It's the top-down phrasing.

    In Buddhism the core book the Dama Padha does not refer to deity but supporting books do. As such any one Buddhist may chose to believe in the existence of a supreme being or not. In Taosim the core book the Tao Te Ching does not refer to deity. I have not yet read ancient books that support it. It appears that Taoists are in the same situation as Buddhists with regard to belief in a supreme being., a matter of individual choice.

    I don't know how the pursuit of light differs from pursuit of excellence. Seems like a lot of overlap to me but some sort of difference in approach that I reach for but can't grasp.
     
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  5. pointwithinacircle2

    pointwithinacircle2 Rapscallion Premium Member

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    I have to ask, can you please give me the definition of enlightenment to which this statement refers. I ask because I am unable to conceive of a concept for the word enlightenment that would render it's pursuit empty.
     
  6. jjjjjggggg

    jjjjjggggg Premium Member

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    It's my understanding from a few years of practicing Zen and reading Zen/Taoist texts is that some view enlightenment as an achievement that can be gained/earned/etc.

    In the Taoist text the Hua Hu Ching it says such a pursuit is no better than a man who strives for material wealth and gain. Both pursuits are inherently flawed, that thinking enlightenment is a goal to obtain leads to no end. The taoist, and later the zen adept, would argue there is nothing else than what is right now, in this moment. Enlightenment isn't something we work towards but is realized, It is no where or no "when" else but here and now.



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  7. jjjjjggggg

    jjjjjggggg Premium Member

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    Dfreybur,

    Great response. After walking away from Christianity, spending a few years as an atheist, it was my time in zen practice and attempting to understand the eastern concept of deity that brought me back. My concept of deity no longer follows the typical western conceptions, and though Taoism never comes out and says the Tao is Supreme Deity, I personally believe taoist/eastern philosophy paints a broader more coherent argument for deity that can also satisfy scientific scrutiny. My own concept of deity follows along the path of the dharmic philosophies founded in India and later moved East... of which they refer to the Absolute or the All... Which is also very similar to the western mystic traditions, such as found in hermetic/gnostic writings, of which freemasonry is an inheritor.

    I also smile when hearing the call, "to the east, brethren!"


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