The Folly of Fun

Each week we address one chapter of the Tao Te Ching. The Tao Te Ching can be obscure, especially if you think you're supposed to understand what it's saying! We find it easier and more instructive to simply contemplate how the chapter resonates with your personal experience. Becoming more aware at this fundamental level simplifies life. This approach conforms to the view that true knowing lies within ourselves. Thus, when a passage in the scripture resonates, you've found your inner truth. The same applies for when it evokes a question; questions are the grist for self realization.

Chapter 40
Turning back is how the way moves;
Weakness is the means the way employs.

The myriad creatures in the world are born from
Something, and Something from Nothing.

Read commentary previously posted for this chapter.
Read notes on translations


  • edited December 1969
    The Folly of Fun
    The innate drive to have 'fun' is one of nature's most effective hoodwinks. This drive allows man to catch a fish as it bites down on the bait seeking a moment of 'fun'. Fun (pleasure) is also beneficial. If the fish didn't enjoy the fun of eating it wouldn't seek the food it needs to survive; the drive to have fun is balanced in nature. Not so in us! We carry with us thoughts of fun driving our [chref=46]many desires[/chref] which tips the balance, and off we go after bait more than necessary. The result is suffering, as Buddha pointed out. Thus, be extremely wary of the [chref=64]desire[/chref] to have fun if you wish to live to be a 'happy' wise old fish.
  • JoeJoe
    edited December 1969
    These days I think of the folly of fun, as "we want to have our cake, and eat it too" (illusion). But what we get is, "you can pay me now or you can pay me later" (reality). Being a parent, I'd like my daughter to grow up paying attention to reality. We'll see how much she's able to do. But I regularly point out the tradeoffs in life. Even though we may get focused on a particular desire, and be oblivious to everything else, the tradeoffs are always there.
  • edited December 1969
    Good idea Carl. I'm all for short and sweet.

    I've been suspect of fun for quite a while, probably just because I didn't like to do the things other people thought were fun. I started noticing how people's hobbies took over all their time...maintaining the water ski thingy, waxing the surfboard, fixing the boat or the motorcycle. Fun was work! I decided that simplicity was best and it's worked for me.

    I may not impress anyone with my activities and I may not be interesting to some, but I can live with that. Give me a quiet day listening to the windchimes and watching the cats ignore each other and I'm happy as a clam.

    Is that chasing fun? Sometimes I find myself wishing to be quietly on the deck instead of whatever I'm doing but then I come around to my senses.
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] Lynn Cornish:[/cite]...Give me a quiet day .... Is that chasing fun? ... but then I come around to my senses.
    This brought to mind the nature of contrast and the process of balance. To truly enjoy rest we [chref=36]must first[/chref] work, to truly enjoy enough we [chref=36]must first[/chref] be hungry, to truly enjoy death [chref=36]must first[/chref] live life fully. 'Life' correlates to the 'work and hunger' side of the coin, death correlates to the 'rest and enough' side. I've found that being continually aware of these 'stakes' makes me less [chref=70]ignorant[/chref] which helps me avoid expecting the impossible and overlooking the possible. Of course, a deepening sense of [chref=56]mysterious sameness[/chref] pulls these two sides toward the center... the 'golden mean'. But that's another story and besides, my paragraph is up. :)
  • edited December 1969
    Oops....messed up on the rules one more time (more than one paragraph). What you say is very true, but it's so easy for me to slip into that kind of thinking. When I think of fun I think of what I like to do but, of course, you are right. If I had nothing to do, would I enjoy doing nothing? Probably not; I would become lethargic and vegitate. But then....the golden mean...doing less and less until you do nothing at appealing. Pulling the meditative state into activity until there's no self to do anything.
  • edited December 1969
  • edited December 1969
    Yes, and when that happens -- no self -- there is no judgment that this is fun, this is not fun. Then you are in heaven. Or hell. What the hell. You don't care! :D
  • edited December 1969
    Funny thing is, unless a person posts, you have no clue that they aren't saying anything.
  • edited December 1969
    "My Flying Carpet"

    ...doing less and less until.."
    indeed until words and thoughts disappear, but they dont stay disappear-ed do they!
    so with as few as possible:

    I observe my most prominent attitude to work is to avoid as much effort as possible. What creature would do otherwise unless it was getting something better in return?
    To every single thing unfavourable "Can THIS be swept under that faithful carpet always floating behind me?"
    The second being my strong desire never to stray from v[chref=38]i[/chref]rtue, (or as the Bible puts it, to avoid even the appearance of evil) manifesting itself mostly in pompous huffiness when people say things that I dont think is 'groovy'
    There under lies an awareness that these attitudes are hindering me thus 'Wrong', Ha! and it requires effort on 'my' part to 'intervene' to soften these tendencies.
    There under lies a great biological hoodwink, that by 'choosing to intervene' this will 'change' this something for the 'better'.
    As all this nonsense spirals down back to the un-wordy I observe myself noticing that I cant accept that I cant accept that its an illusion that its an illusion.
    Doing less = more feet up time?
    beginning to see it more like,
    Activity simply riding events, favourable or un-, busy or otherwise, helplessly participating with a lessening appearance of free will’s twin 'intervention'

    Here boy!.. cam on carpet.. there's another customer complaint.. now where's that delete button.
  • edited December 1969
    [cite] TheNowSeeker:[/cite]... that it's an illusion that it's an illusion.
    ... a lessening appearance of free will's twin 'intervention'
    :lol: ... This brings to mind how words perpetuate the illusion - like a snow ball rolling down a hill. Illusion and reality need [chref=2]each other[/chref] to exist. It's a thinking mind's 'co-dependency'. And a Taoist viewpoint is effective therapy for this co-dependent psychological disorder, don't you [chref=71]think[/chref]?
    :idea: ... And, speaking of free will, I just realized we do have free will. By 'free', I mean 'free as the wind'. The wind blows here, the wind blows there and pushing the dust around. Now, if we could just harness that 'free will'. A wind mill works for the wind,... Hmm...
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