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2. Compare and contrast the Hindu notion of Brahman with the Taoist notion of TAO.

Be
sure to list and explain how they develop, their results, and practical effects on human
behavior.

The Upanishads talk about a unitary or single divinity, power, or principle that has
several aspects and names in the Upanishads, two of the most important are Atman and
Brahman.The word "brahman" in Sanskrit originally meant "power" and so Brahman
seems to refer to the power that brings about and changes the physical universe.Brahman
is not only the principle and creator of all there is, but is also the sum totality of the
universe and its phenomena. Brahman can be located both in the physical, external world
and also in the spiritual and inner world where it is present as Atman, "the undying
transphenomenal self." Although both Atman and Brahman are vague notions, they can
be experienced through meditative thinking or Yoga.

Similar to the Hindu notion of Brahman is the Taoist notion of the TAO.Taoism is based
on the idea that behind all material things and all the change in the world lies one
fundamental, universal principle: "the Way or Tao". This principle gives rise to all
existence and governs everything, all change and all life. Behind the bewildering
multiplicity and contradictions of the world lies a single unity, the Tao. The TAO, or the
energy that flows through everything living, can be experienced in the "way of the water"
which flows effortlessly and spontaneously in harmony with this power.

In many ways the TAO is very similar to Brahman in the Upanishads, both are
metaphysical notions that are difficult to conceptualize and talk about. Like Brahman,
Tao is a metaphysical idea that stands for an energy that is beyond any single
differentiated kind of energy; it is an hypothesis based on some kind of "intuition" about
energy and power. Yet it is vague, negative, and not nameable because it is beyond
anything we can think or say clearly; it is more like a way of life, and is so described in
"Tao Te Ching." However, the notions of Atman and Brahman are arrived at through
hypothetical reasoning based on the phenomenal aspects of change and then moving on
to an insightful recognition of the unchanging power.

Both philosophies however claim that the "unchanging power" has immense practical
benefit for human life and development. The goal of human life in both the notions is to
realize Self and harmonize ones self with the unchanging power. Health and vitality are
of primary importance to both, as the Brahman and TAO reside in the body or flow
through it respectively. The purpose of the human life according to the Hindu notions is
to gain release from rebirth, or at least a better rebirth, on the other hand, the purpose of
TAO is inner harmony, peace, and longevity which can be achieved by living in
accordance with the Tao. Both the Brahman and the TAO can be experienced through
yoga, meditation, and Tai- Chi which is the TAO way of meditation and training the
mind and body to go with the flow. Whether aligning yourself with the TAO or gaining
insight into your Atman, both these metaphysical experiences lend to a better
understanding of ones self and valuing ones dignity and destiny. The enlightenment that
comes with following either way provides us with practical wisdom about life and helps
us detach from the stresses that are a part of our everyday life.
8. Summarize and evaluate how Yoga meditation can be a useful tool for experience of
Atman, Brahman, or Tao. Does it seem plausible? Why or Why not?

Yoga is the ancient Indian practice of meditation that provides a contemplative means of
self-enquiry and exploration. According to some, Yoga meditation is the art and science
of systematically observing, accepting, understanding, and training each of the levels of
our being, such that we may coordinate and integrate those aspects of ourselves, and
dwell in the direct experience of the center of consciousness.

Yoga deals head-on with the obstacle of the mind and how to purify that mind so that it is
an aid on the inner journey. It presumes that the seeker has done the preparatory work to
be able to do these practices. To be able to successfully do the inner explorations and
contemplations, it is necessary that the mind has been reasonably purified or stabilized.
The philosophy of yoga suggests that in order for man to be in harmony with himself and
his environment, he has to integrate the body, the mind, and the spirit. For these three to
be integrated, emotion, action, and intelligence must be in balance. This balance is
achieved and maintained through exercise, breathing, and Meditation - the three main
Yoga structures.

The practices of the Yoga Sutras stabilize and clear the clouded mind. Yoga can be a
plausible tool for experiencing the Atman, Brahman or the Tao. Yoga is based on the idea
of disengaging from Maya, or the real world of material things, that holds us immersed in
ignorance, unenlightened and unable to act wisely. Yoga helps us to attach ourselves to
the metaphysical reality of Atman and Brahman, and we gradually become more
detached from Maya and do not feel the disappointments associated with living in
ignorance about our pure metaphysical nature.

The practice of yoga helps in exploring through contemplative meditation our levels of
conscious, unconscious, and subconscious. Directly contemplating on the center of
consciousness, seeking to experientially go into the heart of the question, "Who am I?",
or in other words, seeking to know the Atman, the center of consciousness, is ultimately
found to be qualitatively the same essence as Brahman, the Absolute. Yoga aims at the
experience of Brahman and Tao through an insight into one’s self that frees the mind of
the phenomenal or the material self, leading to an awakening of the deepest self, and
knowing self as one with Atman and pure consciousness. It leads one to recognize the
highest truth about self that the Atman and Brahman are one, it is then that the Brahman
or Tao manifests itself.

In the midst of our modern world characterized by daily stress, fatigue, and pollution,
more and more people are seeking that elusive sense of relaxation and inward awareness.
Though the practice of Yoga is closely associated to ancient texts, beliefs, and values, it
also yields benefits useful for people's practical daily lives. Yoga relaxes the body and
the mind. Even in the midst of stressful environments, Yoga helps control breathing and
clears the mind of cluttered thoughts, leaving only deep physical and mental refreshment.
4. What is meant by Tao? What makes it metaphysical and why is it also practical
especially today in art, business and health care?

The Tao is a metaphysical concept that forms the basis of the Taoist philosophy. Tao is
considered to have ineffable qualities that prevent it from being defined or expressed in
words. It can, however, be known or experienced, and its principles can be followed or
practiced. Tao is generally used to indicate the unseen, underlying law of the universe
from which all other principles and phenomena proceed. It is described as unnamable,
unfathomable and inexhaustible. Taoists attempt to be one with this principle.

The most important thing about the Tao is how it works in the world, and how human
beings relate to it. Philosophical speculation about what the Tao actually is, is less
important than living in sensitive response to the Tao. The Tao is not a thing or a
substance in the conventional sense. It cannot be perceived but it can be observed in the
things of the natural world. Although it gives rise to all being, it does not itself have
being. The way of the Tao is to align oneself with universal forces and flowing like water
in harmony with the power. Tao teaches that one who lives life well lacks nothing,
because he or she desires nothing that is difficult to obtain. It encourages people to accept
that things need to run their course, and not to resist the tendency of things to work out in
a certain natural way. It facilitates achievement of goals by abandoning striving and
forcing of oneself thereby also eliminating unhappiness and conflict.

Taoism is not obsolete today, in fact it has become more relevant today than ever. With
the advancement of information technology, the ideal of becoming a global village is at
hand. With cultures each thousands of years old coming together, it is like mixing many
different forces into a single mixing bowl. The Taoist philosophy has something to offer,
that of harmony. Harmony not in the sense of neutralization, but in the way of co-
existence and balance (peace). Such harmony will help civilizations to enjoy living
among other civilizations, as well as with mother Earth.Taoism philosophy is not
exclusively for the Taoist. It is a methodology of equilibrium, which all of us can use
some, regardless of the God we have faith in.

Taoist practices and beliefs like acupuncture, holistic medicine, meditation and martial
arts such as Tai Chi, have gained a measure of general popularity and acceptance in the
world today. Tai Chi has been practiced by Taoists for centuries and is now a popular
way to attain better health and also as a way of self-defense. Tai Chi works on the whole
body with rhythmic movements mimicking the flow of water, and helps in lowering
blood pressure, relieving stress and gently strengthening the body without strain.
Acupuncture too is an ancient practice of healing using needles to restore the flow of
energy throughout the body.

The Taoists believed in certain principles that are still relevant in today’s business world.
The Taoists believed you had to have faith and dedication to find your Tao (way) in life.
The same way, in business and in personal life, one needs to have faith in themselves and
their business to succeed. Faith can be strengthened through research and following your
instinct with perseverance and dedication. The Taoists also emphasize tranquility, and
practice meditation and exercises to obtain the Tao (way). In today’s hectic and stressful
business world a tranquil mind is essential to avoid burnout. Adaptability, another one of
Taoist principles, focuses on being aware of the changes taking place around you and
seizing opportunities as they present themselves. The Tao of leadership emphasizes a
style of leadership that is not coercive and demanding, but is non authoritarian,
unassuming and receptive. It advocates teamwork and resourcefulness. Ethics is stressed
on by outlining moral and metaphysical consequences of successful human behavior.

6. How does Plato use the doctrine of forms to reinforce the kinship with divinity of the
soul? Do you agree? If so, why? If not, why not?

According Plato, there are two worlds that make up all of reality: the intelligible (or
immaterial) world and the visible (or physical) world. The visible world is comprised of a
vast number of imperfect sensible objects that are in a state of constant flux whereas the
intelligible world is comprised of perfect and unchanging “Forms.” Because of the fact
that the sensible objects are in constant flux, one can not claim to have knowledge about
them; whereas one can claim to have knowledge of the Forms. Also, while our souls have
the ability to perceive the Forms, our bodies only have the ability to perceive the visible
world which in fact blinds and confuses our perception of the Forms. As a result, as long
as we exist as beings of both soul and body, we will be unable to obtain complete
knowledge of the Forms of the intelligible world. Only in death, which is said to be the
separation of the soul from the body, can we have the unfettered ability to gain true
knowledge of the Forms.

Another important doctrine used by Plato to support the idea of the immortality of the
soul is the theory of how knowledge is gained: the theory of recollection. According to
the theory of recollection, prior to the joining with the body, a man’s soul has a perfect
set of all knowledge, the source of which is the intelligible world. When this soul is
joined with the body at birth, the objects of the visible world blind and confuse this past
knowledge of the soul so that each individual does not remember that he has it. In the life
of man as he exists in the visible world, when he perceives certain physical objects in the
right combination and order, he begins to recollect his past knowledge lodged in his soul
from the intelligible world. According to Plato therefore, the entire process of gaining
knowledge is the process of observing certain sensible objects in the right combination
and order, resulting in the recollection of the previously held knowledge of the soul.

Plato splits up existence into two realms: the material realm and the transcendent realm of
forms.Humans have access to the realm of forms through the mind, through reason, given
Plato's theory of the subdivisions of the human soul. This gives them access to an
unchanging world, invulnerable to the pains and changes of the material world.Plato's
assertion that the soul seeks freedom from the body so that it may best grasp truth,
because the body hinders and distracts it: By detaching ourselves from the material world
and our bodies and developing our ability to concern ourselves with the forms, we find a
value which is not open to change or disintegration. Some would then say that this is how
we find enlightenment.