Thursday, May 20, 2010

Not-One is Also One, Part 20

NOT–ONE IS ALSO ONE:
HEAVEN AND HUMAN
IN THE INNER CHAPTERS
OF THE ZHUANGZI
by Scott Bradley

Continuing with the discussion from Zhuangzi, Chapter 5...

Alone. Zhuangzi tells us that the sage, in his pursuit and realization of harmony with Reality, is essentially alone. This is descriptive, not prescriptive. It is no mystery that every human being dwells in an inner solitude. Zhuangzi makes no attempt to change this aspect of Reality which might be seen as a burden. That it is no burden to the sage is a consequence of the experience of no-self. When you walk in the nameless who is there to be alone?

Is there a conflict between Zhuangzi’s presentation of the relationship between Heaven and the Human as presented in these two passages? If there is, I do not see it.

A problem arises only when we fail to understand that the terms Heaven, the Human, and Man have no fixed meaning. Every statement about Reality is necessarily an approximation, a suggestion, of ‘truth’ and thus cannot fail but to overlap and apparently contradict every other statement.

If we set out to systematize the thought of Zhuangzi we fall into the very trap that he forever warns us to avoid, namely, believing that we can know and definitively define anything. He would, I think, have us appreciate his writing as we might a tree — something ultimately to be experienced, not explained. Like life itself.

The Heavenly is Reality, the givens of our apparent existence. The Human is the possibility of harmony or disharmony with Reality. There is the Human which is humanity fulfilled in harmony and there is the Human which is unfulfilled in disharmony. Where do the givens end and the choices of humanity begin? We cannot know; just as we cannot know what is Heaven and what is the Human.

Reality is one; the Human is capable of realizing that oneness or abiding in not-oneness. But whether abiding in oneness or not-oneness, humanity, as part of Reality, is still one with Reality. What is this One? It is utter and complete Mystery. At best we can but bask in the life-affirming warmth of the Shadowy Splendor of our apparent experience.

To read, print and/or download this series as one document with additional sections and footnotes, here is the link to Google Docs.

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