The Tao, Mu And Aristotle’s ‘God’

 

Lets wander a bit, East and West of ‘That’.

Tát [‘That’] as an ‘Expression of Inexpressibility’ is the pivotal expression in the Dharmic Tradition. But there is no serious tradition that does not carry it, or some close variant of it.

From the opening line of the opening verse of the Tao Te Ching:

The True Tao is nameless; what is named is not the True Tao. The True Tao cannot be told; what is told is not the True Tao’.

Tao is a Self-Eating Expression.

The central directive of Taoism is to live a life based on Wie Wu Wei: ‘Doing Not-Doing’. A Self-Negating Expression. Of Course.

[Lao Tzu [circa 5th Century BCE, literally, ‘Old Master’] founded Taoism, the first philosophy of China. Lao Tzu didn’t prissy around. First he declares that the true Tao is nameless, then adds that nothing may be said about it. All in the opening verse. Then he proceeds to write his poem naming and telling all about the TaoSort of like this Site.]

The opening Koan from the venerated Mumonkon Collection is: ‘Joshu’s Mu!’. It is in response to the question: ‘Does a dog have Buddha-Nature?’.

Joshu’s ‘Mu!’ is a negative particle, a vociferous assertion of negation. The driving kinetic of its terse formulation is its simultaneous self-consumption. Literally, ‘Nothing’. [I think it was Hakuin who wrote that all of Zen was contained in Mu]

Bodhidharman defined the ends of C’han-Zen Practice as follows: ‘A special transmission outside the scriptures; no dependence on words and letters; seeing into one’s Self-Nature, and the attaining of Buddha-hood.

Again from the Mumonkan:

Daibai asked Baso: ‘What is the Buddha?’
Baso answered: ‘The mind is the Buddha.’
A monk asked Baso: ‘What is the Buddha?’
Baso replied: ‘Not mind, not Buddha.’

Note that the better Koans never mark an identifiable terminus. It dates back to the founding of the Tradition itself.


Aristotle is the pioneering formulator of precise, cogent, hugely influential models of reality. From the elementary notion of ‘Substance’ to the most cogent defense of the Principle of Contradiction [‘The first principle of analytical cognition’, as he put it. See the later Posts].

They lasted well past Copernicus. Immanuel Kant’s pioneering work which dominated European Academic Philosophy for over two hundred years began with Aristotle. [I’ll get to his seminal ‘Critique of Pure Reason’. Fun stuff.] 

But oddly enough, Aristotle installed a very strange fellow, an indecipherable creature in-fact, in the sanctum-sanctorum of his scrupulous, logically precise modeled world.

From Aristotle’s Metaphysics:

There is therefore also an Unmoved-Mover, being eternal, primary and in act..the first mover is a necessary Being..and is thus a first principle, for there is always a mover of things moved, and the first mover is itself unmoved.’

Aristotle’s ‘God’: The ‘Unmoved Mover’. Do you sight the Self-Loop?