The Ideal and the Practical — the Practice

I’d written a response to @AnAn and included a quote from the Chuang Tzu’s chapter on Lord Wen-hui and what he learned from his Cook Ting, and wanted to throw in the following DoubleQuote — but graphics seem to be discouraged in the Comment sections here, so I’ve opened this post for the purpose:

The thing is, Lao Tzu offers us the ideal statement, formulated in terms of an impenetrable absence of space, and an absence of substance to the point of non-existence — while Chuang Tzu, peering over Lord Wen-hui’s shoulder right there in Cook Ting’s kitchen, offers us the same insight, couched in terms of there being “spaces between the joints” and his knife having “really no thickness” — Chuang Tzu’s measureless insight penetrates Lao Tzu’s impenetrable absolutes to show us there’s room for play there — “room — more than enough for the blade to play about in”.

If we bear these two versions of the same idea — formulated ideally and in practical terms by the two principle philosopher-poets of the Taoist school — in mind when our thoughts run up against the impracticality of an ideal, we may find, like Cook Ting, that we too have room enough room to play in.

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Charles Cameron

I've mostly been blogging at Zenpundit.com, a strategy & creativity focused site where I'm managing editor, and am honored and delighted to have been invited to contribute here at BrownPundits. My degree is in Theology (Christian) from Oxford, I'm interested in religions generally and apocalyptic weirdness and religiously oriented violence in particular, but ah, music is like a breath of fresh air after that, and my love of Bach has tgranslated into an i nquiry: How can we hold contrasting concepts and worldviews in mind at the same time, the way Bach' hold contrasting melodies together in musical counterpoint? This is obviously a useful trait to develop in social setting, for diplomats, intelligence analysts and national security wonks -- and for anyone interested in a sophisticated understanding of our complex world. My own approach to the mapping of simultaneous but contrasting ideas is based in my understanding of Hermann Hesse's great game, described in his Nobel-winning novel The Glass Bead Game. I hope to begin my posting here by introducing Hesse's Game, and my own attempt to make it playable -- on a napkin in a cafe, preferably, with dappled sunshine, a cool breeze, and a curious , openmind..

3 thoughts on “The Ideal and the Practical — the Practice”

  1. Beautiful!

    In translation Lao Tzu and Taoism sound like another Vedic or Agamic texts. They are so similar that I can’t tell them apart.

    Poetics designed to inspire conciousness 🙂

    Look forward to touching base offline.

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