ENCYCLOPEDIA OF TAOISM (PRIVATE NOTE WITH AND WITHOUT A BUDDHIST FLAVOR): Wú and yŏu 無•有 Non-being (Non-existence, Emptiness, Void) and Being (Existence)

“The term wú (non-being) usually has the same meaning as xū 虛 or “voide” and kōng 空 or “emptiness” (the latter term has a Buddhist flavor). The notion has different levels of meaning, however, which imply some distinctions.”

“Metaphysical or ontological “void.” The notion of a metaphysical or ontological “void” (or “emptiness”) is found in the Daode jing and the Zhuangzi, and later evolved under the influence of Buddhism. It negates the naive belief in a fundamental entity that lies behind existence and in an ultimate beginning (Zhuangzi) or foundation for the world, and states that the Dao, the Ultimate Truth, is invisible and inconceivable, and has neither form nor name. Everything is fluctuant, and every being is caught in a net of relations and depends on others, so that no one can exist on its own. And the whole world is one; it is a continuum whose parts are only artificially separated (Zhuangzi), so that fundamentally and ontologically nothing exists. Wu is the absolute Emptiness that logically lies above and before the distinction between negation and affirmation.”

“Emptiness consists of forgetting all that we have learned, all our striving and aims, and in letting things unfold by themselves, in ourselves as well as in the world. Do not interfere, do not do anything (wuwei), say the Taoist; let the Celestial Mechanism (tiānjī 天機) operate naturally and freely. The Taoist spontaneous way of acting and living (ziran) is the positive face of emptiness and non-intervention. Emptiness is seeing in darkness  and hearing silence within; it is not to be blind and deaf. It is not a disappearance of the visible, but a deliverance from it.”

These three extracts belong to a sinologist Isabelle Robinet, and I have to say, I like her style and seriousness in the not so easy approach to difficult terms’ interpretation which can be very unclear in time and space. She is the author of much longer article in the body of Encyclopedia, and this is a nice idea to keep reference books handy, and I do it and use my favorite volumes frequently enough. Another thing I do like to do as frequently as possible—just forget reference books and all about their existence at all and just succeed in my/your/our favorite exercises, whatever they are: yoga, daoyin, taiji quan, bagua, krav maga, throwing knives, baking, or mountain bike riding, or anything else, including classic music and sex (I mean classic music and sex in the same time:). Sometimes it is so good to keep ancient ideas not remembering them, following unconsciously but following.


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