3 replies on “Explaining Daoism with help from RZA”

  1. What’s the Beatles reference below? I should probably already know but somehow my students have never enlightened me about it — a function of their musical choices I imagine.

    IDEAS: In addition to these religious texts, you include an excerpt from “The Wu-Tang Manual” and “The Tao of Physics,” among other surprises.

    ROBSON: It’s a world religion, in the sense that it spread to Korea, Japan, to peninsular Malaysia, and then to Europe, the US, and elsewhere. I’ve tried to track that with a few key examples. I include a fair amount of material on the Jesuits, who were the first ones to really export knowledge of Daoism during the 17th and 18th centuries. But then why stop there? So I include Alfred, Lord Tennyson…and Oscar Wilde, who read a review of a translation of a Daoist text and was excited about it. I include the Beatles, who took one chapter of the “Daode jing” that was translated and put it to music. And the more recent one is RZA’s own interaction with Daoism, where he read the “Daode jing” and was incredibly moved by it, and that became an inspiration for him going to China and also using the Wu-Tang—it should be pronounced “Wudang,” because it’s the name of a Daoist sacred mountain that he took for their band name.

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