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Name of Lecture:  Original definition of Lao Zi "Tao" and its theoretical and practical meaning
Speaker: Mr. Lou Yulie (professor of Peking University, supervisor of Doctoral Candidates)
Venue: No. 7 Wenjin Street, Xicheng District, Beijing
Date: Jun.04.2005
Category: Philosophy
Brief Introduction
of the Speaker:

Mr. Lou Yulie was born in Hang Zhou, Zhejiang Province, in 1960; he was graduated from Department of Philosophy, Peking University. He is now professor and supervisor of Doctoral Candidates of the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Religious Science of Peking University, teacher of Doctor's postgraduate class of Postgraduate School for Chinese Classical Studies for Peking University, director of Institute of Religion for Peking University, and director of Institute of Gu Qin (a seven-stringed plucked instrument) of Peking Opera and Kunqu Opera of Peking University etc.
He is concurrently appointed a member of committee of social science of the Ministry of Education, a member of leading group of national arranging planning publishing of ancient books, the member of National Committee of arranging and planning ancient books of colleges and universities, and the advisor of the Chinese Society of Religion, etc. He is engaged in teaching and research in aspects of Chinese culture, Chinese philosophy and Chinese Buddhism, etc.

Key Words: Philosophy;  ;Chinese;philosophy; ;Lao;Zi
Organizer: NLC Library of Ancient Books (former NLC Branch Library)

To probe Lao Zi's Tao (Dao) fist of all, people should pay attention to the first sentence of chapter I of Lao Zi:"The Way that can be told of is not an Unvarying Way". Lao Zi's researchers' explanation of this word is identical basically, namely, they thought "it means the Way we can speak of is not constant or "always" or unchangeable way", His expressive thought of the word is thought by all of them that he wanted to find the unvarying way of surpassing the saying and space and time, and hold that this is a fundamental meaning of Lao Zi's Tao (Dao), even the fundamental meaning of entire Taoist school so-called "Tao" (Dao).
However, the above-mentioned Lao Zi's sentence is whether some people thought so or not? This is worthy of discussion of the problem, again.
   "Chapter of explanation of Lao Zi's doctrine" of Han Fei Zi explained in detail the above sentence, definitely indicated that the characteristics of "Tao" was "without constant behavior or conduct", "be soft and weak with time", and clearly showed that a sage see his mystery, use its all pervading,"Way (Tao or Dao)"is the by-name that we give it. Were I forced to say to what class of things it belongs. However, it can be discussed." And in the tenor of six schools of thought, Si Matan generally described the features of Taoist 'Tao' were "take nothingness or nihility for base and follow old customs for use" and"Nothing makes them perfect and strengthen, and nothing makes them be constant shapes", "Change with time to which is cleaved ", etc.
I hold that understanding and analyzing of meanings of "Tao" of Taoist school or Lao Zi" stated by "Chapter of explanation of Lao Zi' s doctrine" of Han Fei Zi and Si Matan, approached more accurately the original meanings of"Tao" of Taoist school and Lao Zi.      
 "Nature" and "Actionlessness" are the core  thoughts of Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi of Taoist school, this is a common consensus of all researchers in studying above-mentioned thought, at the same time, it is a major point for modern people to elaborate Taoist thought, too.
To make it clear that the original meanings of"The Way is not an Unvarying Way" and "The Way that can be told of'Tao' ", as stated as above-mentioned, may allow us to better understand and master the fundamental thinking of "Nature and actionlessness" of Taoist school. And we will acquire much more practical understanding of rich simple and unadorned dialectical mode of thought from thought of Lao Zi and Taoist school.
    A word of"Time"is the key of"Tao"that masters and utilizes "non-always-so behavior or conduct", "Nothing makes them perfect and strengthen" and non-always-so shapes. In the 'Lao Zi', he once said "in actions, timeliness" (Chapter 8), this is an extremely important standpoint of "Lao Zi's Tao" thought and also an important content of Chinese traditional simple and unadorned dialectical mode of thought. Therefore, they (Han Fei Zi and Si Matan) simultaneously stressed the main characteristics of their outlined"Tao" of Lao Zi's Taoist school as saying "be soft and weak with time", "Do job according to opportunity(timely)" and "Change with time to which is cleaved", etc.
For a long time, some people explained the Taoist "Tao" in an abstruse way, which is far away from realistic things and living. What is concerned is also its abstract theory of"more mystical than the most mystical", few can unveil its strong practical property and realistic importance. Therefore, to make clear the original meaning of the "Tao" may abolish, to a greater degree, the senses of abstract, mystery and distance to "Tao", and produce cordial and realistic senses. "Tao" exists in all realistic things and in all human hearts. Although things differ in thousands of ways, each man is different, but "Tao", "follow old customs for use", things and individuals with different characteristics exist in all things and all individuals, exhibiting original and natural property of all different things. And "Tao" will "timely" vary with tendency of natural development and change of things and will change with the tendency of social development and change "at any time".

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