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  • Dao and De joined the group, Jedi Hispano
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  •   Enua reacted to this post about 1 week ago
    Gibts Jedi in Berlin? Ich bin 24, halb Deutscher halb Kubaner, neu in der Stadt (und in Deutschland) und möchte mehr Leute kennenlernen! Schick mir Nachrichten!
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  •   Ratapua reacted to this post about 1 week ago
    A little bit about my username:

    When I discovered Alan Watts, I was 14 years old. I realized immediately that what he was trying to say wasn't being said by anyone else--not pop culture, not teachers, not business leaders, athletes... Nobody that a young man in the USA like myself would typically look up to.

    I began practicing meditation and mindfulness shortly after starting to hear his message, and what I found was that I was one by one exposing and "dismantling" all manner of negative constructs in my life, which I might not have known existed, were I not looking: Divorced parents; a father who lied, kept secrets, and lived only for himself; a mother fluent in wanton destruction, and controlling not just my own thoughts and actions, but those of an entire town; my mixed race and mixed cultures (that didn't mix at all); negative influences derived from pressure to succeed, pressure to be right, pressure to be a "winner" even when there is no contest, to be assertive and "manly" and to hide from myself at all costs... I vowed to see through the illusions, and always remain present, and in the moment. This was, and still is, much easier said than done.

    My moment of revelation happened when I walked in to take the SATs, vowing to stay IN the moment for the entire test, and got a near-perfect score. Mind you I was NOT a 4.0 student, and I did not study for tests. It eye-opening for me to see, truly, how much "success" in our society really depends on all the things they tell you it does (competitiveness, to the point of self-loathing; repression, to the point of self-punishment; "winning," to the point of self-defeat), and how much of it is a bold-faced lie. The answer to my question: a 2380, out of a 2400--that's 99%, if rounding down.

    99% of it is a lie.

    Just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, and that I wasn't dealing with outlier data, I signed up for the next ACT: This time, a perfect 36 out of 36.

    Please understand that this happened many years ago, and I NEVER usually make a point of my high school test scores. Considering how it is I got them, I believe they reflect nothing and are truly worthless. Notice, you won't find my full name anywhere on this site, so even if I wanted to brag, none of this credit reflects back on me personally.

    Anyway, this part of the story does have a point: I knew, as soon as I saw those scores, that this was a GAPING flaw in our society. We emphasize so many toxic habits that cause nothing but pain, judgment, division, resentment and, ultimately, institutionalized hatred, when all that's required is to calm one's mind, take a step back, see through this hazy mix of sincere confusion and deliberate deception (I guess you could call that bag the "dark side") and move through it without fear. Seeing those scores reaffirmed my commitment to taking a stand against the false dogmas of society.

    With dozens of hours of Alan Watts' audio recordings behind me at that point, I decided to follow his path and study in China. I was accepted on a full ride to NYU Shanghai, where I got an undergraduate degree in Global China Studies--the closest thing they offered to an English-Language major in Chinese Philosophy--and made sure all my Chinese professors knew of my true interests. One of them gifted me a book, which I highly recommend to anyone here curious about the origins and histories of Chinese philosophy, called "Philosophy of the East and West" by Feng Youlan. A Chinese philosopher and historian offering his perspective on the big-name Western philosophers like Plato and Socrates is a treat by itself, but the nuances of Chinese philosophy it explores are priceless.

    While there, I learned to see a lot of Alan Watts' mini "Chinese lessons" in a new light. I recalled one of his most beautiful allegories was that of the Chinese boy, who does not ask his mother, "how was I made?" because the very question evokes the concept of He Who Fashioneth The Clay, which is ever-present in the Western world's interpretation of the world, but to a Chinese is ludicrous--after all, we are all products of the world. We come out of it, not into it. We aren't "made," any more than a tree or the ocean was "made". All of this simply "is," like some wondrous spontaneous outburst of who-gives-a-damn. Part of me dreaded discovering he had exaggerated everything, but no. He was absolutely right. About all of it.

    Especially what he said about the word, "De." (pronounced, "duh")

    This is something that requires a bit of Chinese for context, both linguistically and philosophically, so bear with me:

    The word "De," like any Chinese word, is devoid of meaning without its proper context, and TONE.

    写,些,and 谢 are all romanized as "xie," which is pronounced, "sh-yi-eh," but all three are spoken with a different tone of inflection. The first is spoken with a sort of dip, into the deeper registers of the voice, and means "to write;" the second is spoken with a rising tone, as if asking a question, and means "shoe;" and the third is spoken with a falling tone, as if in acknowledgement, and means, "thank you." (usually said twice, as in 谢谢 "xiexie").

    Context also matters: "Xie" said in a falling tone could mean thank you, or it could mean diarrhea. You can usually tell, in the moment.

    Back to "De:"

    的,地,得 are all forms of De, spoken with the exact same inflection. All of them are grammar helper-words, used in different but similar contexts; in conversation, you wouldn't hear a difference at all. It's only when you write them that any useful distinction exists.

    But the "De" Alan Watts spoke of is this one: 德.

    Its precise definition is tricky. It can mean a mixture of "benevolence" and "virtue," but has also been broadly translated as "ethics" or "morality."

    As westerners, we hear those words and naturally think of questions of free will, and of choice. But a Chinese person, by nature of the very different way the East thinks about the world and of human beings, hears them and instead thinks of something innate, and intrinsic to all living beings: It is both a mission, and the means of achieving that mission.

    "It surrounds us; it penetrates us; it binds the universe together" --These words might as well have been said about the concept of "De," except that they frame the subject as an external "force," rather than as an internal "source".

    De can be better thought of in context with its partner concept, known as the 道 "Dao". You may have heard them used in combination before--The title of the book which introduces them both is called the Dao De Jing. 道德经 "the Dao-De Classic," with "Classic" being the chosen word for every religious or pseudoreligious text in Chinese. (The Bible is called 圣经, Sheng Jing, or "Holy Classic".)

    To summarize the concept of Dao quickly, since I suspect we're all very familiar with it, being star wars fans: it's a way of looking at the universe that suggests accepting all happenings as arising from a single vast, continuous process, one which created itself from nothing and flows infinitely forwards like a mighty river. The river constantly evolves, and changes its shape. It manifests as opposites, Yin and Yang, which in the west we characterize as the light and dark, but in fact literally translate as Moon and Sun.
    The Sun is constant. It is bright and intense, to the point of heat. It commands the crops to rise just as it commands the day's toil to begin, and when its intensity peaks, all its subjects must flee for cover. It is associated with masculinity--power, but aggression.
    The Moon has phases. It can be bright, but never hot: dark, but never gone; it guides lost wanderers through the night and keeps them company in the cold, but is powerless to keep them safe. It is associated with femininity--love, but impotence.

    What's crucial is that, in Yin and Yang, it's not the Sun and Moon themselves being depicted, but the fundamental principles they are believed to represent. They are found no more in the Sun and Moon than in a coffee mug: there is Material, and Form. Or in a blade of grass blowing in the wind--the Grass, and the Wind.

    The Dao is all that which arises from all the possible combinations of that balance--and everything, including the Sun and Moon themselves, fall in that category.

    And now we arrive at the origin, and true definition, of De: Where Dao is the Yin... De is the Yang.

    De is that which is implied by the Dao; its counterpart. Ourselves. In other words: if Dao is all that exists or ever will exist, and all the past and future happenings of the universe, etc., De is...

    Well, it's you.

    There is a lot to unpack there, so I'll try my best.

    Dao, the eternal Dao, is the way-that-is-no-way; the plan-that-is-no-plan. Everything arises mutually with its opposite, and we arise from the Dao just as anything else. We, locked as we are into our causal, linear perceptions, cannot perceive the Dao, and as all the great masters from Lao tzu to Zhuang tzu have reiterated time and time again, if you think you get it, you don't.

    "The dao that can be comprehended is not the Dao; its name that can be spoken is not its name."

    Thus the paradox: How do we, finite, hopelessly small beings, hope to live in accordance with the unknowable infinity that is everything?

    You can't. And yet, you are, right now. Always, in fact. Because you never will.

    That is the foundation of the idea of De: The knowledge that the unknowable Dao is known, not BY you, but rather THROUGH you--through your actions, your deeds, your thoughts--absent the desire to escape from yourself.

    Trying to know the Dao is utter folly. The more we strive to do so, the less we allow it to unfold within us, as it otherwise naturally would have--and only when it finally is allowed to do so, does the world finally come to meet our unique, colorful, compassionate self that was until now so preoccupied with changing itself that it forgot to introduce itself. What is that "self" composed of? Ethics? Morality? Virtue? Benevolence? All are suitable words, but this is why translating the word "De" is so tricky.

    And why, as Alan Watts pointed out, it's both easier and more fun to just name it by the sound you make when you figure it out: "Duh!"

    Or by the sound of an object striking a surface, the basic stuff of reality that can't be named: "Duh. Duh. Duh." The ticking of the metronome that symbolizes the inexorable march of the Dao, as told uniquely through you.

    "When the Dao is abandoned, De arises."

    When your desire to know the Dao is abandoned, you give way to that which you always were, without thinking.

    And just as the Sun and the Moon create the balance that feeds and nurtures all life, so do the Dao and De represent the opposite experiences of dualistic man: The former, the unattainable, infinite, eternal stuff of existence itself, forever beyond comprehension and the subject of craving and jealousy by the egoistic mind; the latter, a light that shines from within itself, finite, limited, and subject to an infinitude of externalities, yet as powerful and eternal as the very Dao from which it comes; craving not to aligned itself with an unknowable "other," but simply to play a song, or dance to a beat, that no one else can hear.

    Anyway, that's why I picked the name!

    As for the picture--just a picture of my mom and I, at my sister's wedding, years back. A happy moment for all of us--nothing too mystical about it
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  • Any Jedi in Berlin?
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