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Christ the Eternal Tao

Gentleman

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The book Christ the Eternal Tao is written to help the people (especially in the West and China), who search for truth and spiritual fulfillment and who are not satisfied with Western form of Christianity, to find and embrace true Orthodox Christianity. The book Christ the Eternal Tao is available on internet for reading or download - hyperlink to a scanned version of the book. They have also an another pdf version with an adapted format on their website for reading and download, but there were so many mistakes that I had to correct it and publish it again on my online had drive for reading and download  - https://yadi.sk/i/QcLKJge2eo0XjQ



 

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In case some of you might want to print the book out, use then only this link.
Gentleman said:
Because the second version with an adapted style contains more than 1000 pages, most of which are almost empty, with only one note on each that clarify the information in the content above. They did it in this way in order to make the reading of the notes easier.
 

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Certainly not. As far as I know there are at least 2 languages in China: traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.
 

PorphyriosK

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Gentleman said:
Certainly not. As far as I know there are at least 2 languages in China: traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.
Apparently 70% speak Mandarin Chinese, but there are over 300 languages in China.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_China
 

Iconodule

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Simplified and traditional are not separate languages, they are just different ways of writing the characters. Both are used for writing the same language. The separate languages would be what are usually called “dialects”- Hokkien, Cantonese, Mandarin, etc. (And if Hokkien and Mandarin are “dialects” of the same language then so are Romanian and French).

There is more than one Bible translation that opted to use Dao for “Logos”, which makes sense. Another possible option would be the Confucian li but I don’t think anyone went with that.
 

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Iconodule said:
Simplified and traditional are not separate languages, they are just different ways of writing the characters. Both are used for writing the same language. The separate languages would be what are usually called “dialects”- Hokkien, Cantonese, Mandarin, etc. (And if Hokkien and Mandarin are “dialects” of the same language then so are Romanian and French).

There is more than one Bible translation that opted to use Dao for “Logos”, which makes sense. Another possible option would be the Confucian li but I don’t think anyone went with that.
This is correct.  Generally speaking traditional (or complex) characters are used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Chinese diaspora while simplified characters are generally used in mainland China and Singapore (though there is a reemergence of the use of traditional characters in mainland China).  The simplified characters (characters with a reduction in the amount of "stokes" used to write the character) were adopted by the CCP and PRC to help raise literacy.  Here are some samples:

Traditional                  Simplified                English
愛                              爱                          Love
書                              书                          Book
國語                            国语                        Mandarin (普通话 is another way of saying "Mandarin")
我是個東正教徒              我是个东正教徒        “I'm an Orthodox Christian"


Mandarin in Chinese literally means "common speech".  It is based on the northern dialects.  A common dialect was adopted because many Chinese dialects aren't mutually intelligible.  Northern dialects will sound close to Mandarin while, say, southern dialects like Shanghainese or Cantonese will sound very different than Mandarin. 

There are two distinct writing styles, classic and modern.  Classic is called 文言文 and is what the Book of Changes, Book of Odes, Book of Documents/History, Book of Rites, etc. are written in.  It is a highly stylized way of writing Chinese and isn't written in the vernacular. 
 

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A Quaker/Daoist friend gave me a copy of this book when I joined the Orthodox Church. Since it came up for discussion here I decided to re-read it over the Christmas-New Year's holidays. I'm getting a lot more out of the quotes from Orthodox fathers and saints than on first reading.

If your not a fan of poetry you might want to skip the Enneads chapters and concentrate on the prose chapters. But don't skip the notes on the Enneads at the end of the book. There's a lot of interesting comment in them.
 

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The book doesn't really have much to say about Taoism- which, to be fair, isn't its purpose. But for the sake of the book's purpose- baptizing Chinese culture by linking its nobler tendencies to the gospel, or cultivating the good sprouts, as Mencius might say, it would be well to familiarize more with Chinese culture and history. Also, the picture this book gives of China's decline from primordial monotheism, based on a worship of Shangdi, is rather fanciful. A quick look at the Book of Songs reveals a polytheistic culture. Of course there was an idea of a supreme deity but if that is sufficient to establish monotheism than many religions typically regarded as polytheistic- including Taoism itself- are monotheistic.

So I think someone trying to relate to Chinese culture from an Orthodox Christian perspective should also be familiar with Confucian and Taoist classics and the way the traditions developed over the centuries. A familiarity with Chinese Buddhism is also important.

And I can't emphasize this enough- the idea that emptiness or non-being, as discussed in Taoism and Buddhism, equate to some kind of nihilism or longing for self-annihilation- is utterly false and wrong. It's embarrassing how frequently this misconception comes up in Christian evaluations of "Eastern religions". It was perhaps understandable in the early days of Western engagement with China and India but nowadays it's inexcusable.
 

Arachne

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Iconodule said:
But for the sake of the book's purpose- baptizing Chinese culture by linking its nobler tendencies to the gospel, or cultivating the good sprouts, as Mencius might say, it would be well to familiarize more with Chinese culture and history.
Any resources you would recommend to the complete layperson?
 

Iconodule

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Sure! For popular Chinese religious worldview check out Journey to the West. You could read it in novel form, but it's also available as manga, anime, TV serials, movies, etc.- and most Chinese people know the story through these popular formats.

For Lao Tzu, this translation of the Tao Te Ching with selections from commentaries/ parallel texts is really, really good.

And this for Chuang Tzu (thanks Asteriktos for bringing this to my attention). The same publisher also has a really good translation of Mencius with commentaries. They also have one for the Analects which I haven't read but which I'm sure is great.


Eva Wong's Taoism: An Essential Guide
is a good introduction to the religion for newbies. Taoism has a ton of sects and sub-traditions but nowadays there are two main flavors- Zhengyi (Orthodox Oneness) and Quanzhen (Complete Perfection). To oversimplify, Zhengyi is older and more associated with married priests and complicated communal rituals. Quanzhen is primarily monastic and incorporates a lot more overt Buddhist influence. If you see kung-fu movies with Taoist monks from Wudang, they are usually Quanzhen.

A great book going about Zhengyi Taoism as practiced by one priest in Taiwan is Michael Saso's The Teachings of Daoist Master Zhuang.

Eva Wong's translation of the novel Seven Taoist Masters is a good introduction to Quanzhen.
 
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