Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One

One
by Scott Bradley


Whenever I speak of One or Oneness I feel a slight twinge of hypocrisy. This is because I do truly want to stay clear of belief. How can I speak of One and not be expressing some form of belief? I am not sure that I can. I can hedge my bet and say that the Unity of Reality seems ineluctably (logically) obvious. And I think that it is.

The physicists' search for a Unified Theory is not coincidental; it is...natural. I can say that it is intuitively obvious. And I think that it is. Zhuangzi suggests that we simply let the Obvious, the Radiance of the Universe, inform us. I can't see that we have any other choice. Even were you or I to experience an ecstatic union with One, we would, at best, only be able to say It is intuitively obvious.

This is all very much like when Zhuangzi told his logician friend, Huizi, how he knew the happiness of fish. "I know it standing here on the bridge over the river Hao." He knew it because he could see the fish doing what fish 'enjoy' doing. He also knew it because he experienced the same kind of enjoyment doing what humans do. Huizi insisted, however, that such a statement could not be logically demonstrated (Zhuangzi was not a fish) and was 'inadmissible'.

Ironically, Huizi was perhaps best known for his statement: "Love all things equally; Heaven and Earth are one body." He arrived at this conclusion by logically demonstrating the relative character of all distinctions between things.

Zhuangzi (literally) echoed him: "If we see all things from the point of view of there similarity, all things are one."

But Zhuangzi was not interested in proving any positive assertions, but only that no such assertion could, in fact, be proven. Thus, after demonstrating how all opposites "open into each other to form a oneness" he goes on to say, it is senseless "to labor your spirit trying to make all things one, without realizing that it is all the same [whether you do so or not]". How much better to simply follow the "Illumination of the Obvious".

Thus, Zhuangzi never actually advocated a positive assertion of One. He simply "followed along with" the apparent Oneness of all things. It is not necessary to 'know' anything to be in harmony (unity) with everything.

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

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