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Religious and Philosophical aspects of the Laozi

To:   alt.philosophy.taoism
From:   "Thomas" 
Subject:   Re: Religious and Philosophical aspects of the Laozi
Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2000 18:43:03 +0200

Isabelle Robinet who is French [is] one of the leading scholars on
religious Taoism. I've read her "Taoism, Growth of a Religion," not easy
but worthwhile. 

[S]he explains that during the Warring States period philosophical
Taoists were in competition with other schools like the Confucians to
gain political power. Once China was united in 221 B.C. Confuciansim
quickly became the only official philosophy. The Taoists had failed
politically. So they tried to create separate Taoist communities and
live like Taoists under the leadership of "Celestial Masters": religious
taoism was born. Taoism failed as a political ideal and succeeded as a
religion in Chinese history.

My personal interest is in philosophical Taoism which ended in 221 B.C.
(no Chinese would call himself a philosophical Taoist after that date),
but Isabelle Robinet points to what happened after that, during the next
2000 years.

A big question is though: Was philosophical Taoism mystical, involving
meditation, etc.?

Chad Hansen sees Lao Tzu as a pure philosopher. But Angus Graham writes
in "Disputers of the Tao" that Lao Tzu practices "self-cultivation":
"the shallow end" of which would be "relaxation", and the "deep end"
would be "mystical illumination." Chuang tzu is clearly mystical, swims
more in the deep end. Robinet writes: "his characters fall into ecstatic
state, leaving their bodies "like dead wood" or "lumps of earth" and
their hearts like "burned-out cinders." 

I've seen that there has been a lot of discussion on the ng about
philosophical vs. religious Taoism. What Angus Graham and Isabelle
Robinet have to say is that there isn't such a sharp separation between
the two.

Hello from,

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