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Lao Tzu, Texts

To: alt.philosophy.taoism,soc.religion.misc,talk.religion.misc,alt.magick.tyagi
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Lao Tzu, Texts
Date: 27 Jun 1996 02:15:24 -0700

[from tariqas sufi elist:]


assalam alaykum, my kin.

|From: Bob King 
|Date: Sat, 1 Jun 1996 09:51:09 -0400 (EDT)
|>Laotsu wrote 5,000 words in a few hundred verses on the request of the 
|>gate keeper of the last city wall he was crossing, to disappear into 
|>the wilderness, never to reappear again.

|So Laotsu wrote only at the request of someone else, 

as with most religious figures, the existence of Laotse is at times
disputed and the stories told about him are likely best considered
popular folktales implying subtle wisdoms.  'Laotse', or 'Old Boy',
the reputed author of _The Classic of Tao and Teh_, if he did exist,
probably did not compose the work entire and its composition as it
comes down to modern scholarship was likely the product of many
centuries of editing and compilation.  the exact details of the
heuristic analysis are among the issues discussed in taoist scholarly
circles such as Taoist-Studies-L (at times resembling certain angel 
and pin disputes ;>).

the story does typically go that he was on his way out of China, at
times headed toward the magical lands to the West (Kunluns) on an ox, 
and it is sometimes said that his relative or friend, knowing his 
character and wisdom, decided to accompany him, eventually requesting
at the gates to the wild, to which he was posted, a summary of Laotse's 
inspired philosophy.  the Old Boy complied with approximately 5000 
characters (by which name, "Book of 5000 Characters" it is also popularly
known) and he then rode off into the wild either never to be seen 
again, entering into the Realm of Immortals, or gaining reputation as 
one of China's great gods.

|Socrates never wrote, 

I'm not sure this is entirely true, but you are correct that Plato is
largely responsible for conveying his teachings to the Greeks.  some
maintain that this rendering was biased and that Socrates' character
is lost to antiquity as the tool of Plato's political and philosophical

|and there are many other similar examples....  

Confucius/Kung Futse, Gautama Buddha, Jesus, etc.

|So when I ask myself what the point of writing is, I try to reflect on the 
|fact that many wise people have chosen not to write, precisely, I think, 
|because they did not want to deter others from finding their own way 

I suspect another reason also in the case of religious leaders: they did not
wish the texts themselves to be worshipped as relics.

|...wise people know that textuality, if taken or presented as authority 
|for others to follow, rather than as experience to beget/encourage 
|further experience, can be very misleading (in a literal sense misleading, 
|if one takes the notion of tariqa or "way" literally).

they become distractions, yes.  we might inquire as to the appropriateness
of this criticism for all written works, religious scriptures inclusive.

peace be with you, my kin.


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