Sunday, August 8, 2010

Punishing Heaven, Part 8

by Scott Bradley

What is this transcendence? It is not a movement away from what one is. On the contrary, it is to experience what one most truly is. It is to return to the up-welling of life within and finding there the infinite spaciousness of an awareness without fixed identity. ‘What one most truly is’ is this inexplicable up-welling of Mystery and transcendence is to roam within it without fixed identity or any thought of ‘why?’.

What is transcended? What is this particular ‘given’, this limitation, that keeps ‘Confucius’ ‘within the lines’? How is it that it arose and when was it ‘given’? Is it comparable to the inevitability of his physical form, the color of his eyes and the proportions of his nose? Or is it the consequence of both the fated givens of Nature and the nurture of his own person?

Surely it is the latter and to this extent he recognizes his responsibility in the result. Yes, ‘Confucius’ has been the architect of his own personality, his own self, the locus of this very limitation, and thus must claim it as his own creation. And yet, he is unable to overturn what he has wrought. What difference does it make, whether of Nature or nurture, that this limitation prevails?

Consider the difference between that which arises outside one’s volition and what one has himself wrought — a blow on the head from a tile blown off the roof or one foolishly thrown by one’s own hand. Surely the latter hurts the most. And how much more painful it must be when one cannot desist, cannot stop punishing oneself. Here is a limitation most glaring and consequentially most catalytic.

Note: At the conclusion of this miniseries, a link will be provided for those interested in downloading or printing the entire document replete with footnotes. If you want to catch up on parts of this or other series you've missed, go to Scott's Zhuangzi Index Page.

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