QUG at Woodbrooke
6th May 2017
Presented by Roger Hill
The theme of tonight’s epilogue is Daoism.
I will give a few words of introduction, read two short stories and we’ll
finish with silent worship.
Faith traditions are separated into two broad categories: those based
on logos and those on mythos. Of course there is much overlap
between the two.
The Logos traditions focus on texts, creeds and rituals; the Mythos
traditions, to which Quakerism and Daoism both belong, focus on
myths, on experience, on personal stories, in Quaker terms on
‘openings’. (See ZZ Chapter 13, The Wheelwright).
The best-known Daoist text, with well over 100 translations, is the
Dao de jing, attributed to Lao zi. But the text acknowledged to be the
richest is the one written by Zhuang zi and his disciples in the 3rd
century BCE, it is from this that I will draw the short readings this
The ‘zi ‘ as in Lao zi and Zhuang zi is one of those amphoteric words
that carry two apparently contradictory meanings at the same time, in
this case “master” and “young child”. To be both as wise as a sage
and to be as innocent as a young child is the aim of the Daoist
Using stories, fantasies, descriptions of exotic beasts, impossible
historical connections, wit and parables, the Zhuang zi illuminates our
journey from ‘uncarved block’ to union with the divine, with Dao.
There are two elements to the journey, first the development of the
power of attention, secondly, the recognition of, and then the
lessening of, the ego. They will very likely progress hand-in-hand.
A quotation from a text by Jianzhi Sengcan (d. 606 CE), a
Chinese philosopher who was one of the first to fuse Daoism
with Buddhism leading to what we know now as Chan or Zen
Buddhism. The poem, in Chinese “Xinxinming”, is translated
by Richard B Clarke as “Faith in Mind”:
The Great Way is not difficultfor those who have no preferences.When love and hate are both absenteverything becomes clear and undisguised.Make the smallest distinction, however,and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart.If you wish to see the truth,then hold no opinions for or against anything.To set up what you like from what you dislikeis the disease of the mind.When the deep meaning of things is not understood,the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail.The Way is perfect like vast spacewhere nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.Indeed it is due to our choosing to accept or rejectthat we do not see the true nature of things.Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,nor in inner feelings of emptiness.Be serene in the oneness of thingsand such erroneous views will disappear by themselves.When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity,your very effort fills you with activity.As long as you remain in one extreme or the other,you will never know Oneness.Those who do not live in the single Wayfail in both activity and passivity,assertion and denial