Saturday, April 23, 2011

Guo Xiang II

Guo Xiang II
by Scott Bradley


Zhuangzi sums up his philosophy of absolute freedom through total non-dependence thusly: The independent person is "one who chariots on the normality of the universe, rides upon the transformation of the six elements, and makes excursion into the infinite." (Chapter 1)

Guo Xiang comments:
To chariot upon the normality of the universe is to follow the nature of things. To ride upon the transformation of the six elements is to make excursion along the road of change and evolution. If one proceeds in this way where can he reach an end? If one chariots on whatever one meets, what will one be required to depend on? This is the happiness and freedom of the perfect man who unites his own self with its opposite...He who makes no distinction between himself and other things and follows the great evolution, can really be independent and always free. He not only sets himself free, but also follows the nature of those who have to depend upon something, allowing them to have that something upon which they depend. When they have that upon which they depend, they all enjoy the Great Freedom.
~ Translated and quoted by Fung ~
That was a long quote, but I think Guo often really saw into the thought of Zhuangzi, and is worth the time to read.

One thing I like about this passage is that, for all its promise of a profoundly transcendent experience, it makes no mention of a deep and mysterious understanding of the universe. It's essentially about responding to the everyday realities that you can kick with your toe, or at least, perceive in the flow of life around you.

One thing that Guo frequently adds to the equation, though still very much in the spirit of Zhuangzi, is the inclusion of all those who follow a different path. They, too, are the "normality of the universe" and can be "followed along with".

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

1 comment:

  1. "excusion into the infinite" to "enjoy the Great Freedom."

    Actually I think there is a lot of deep and mysterious reference here. My teacher is doing a Zhuangzi commentary (last I heard it was at 650 pages) focused on internal alchemy. There are a lot of hidden levels of meanings in this stuff. Of course you can ignore them.

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