Tuesday, May 17, 2011


by Scott Bradley

Someone has just sent me a post entitled Zhuang Zhou Did Not Write The Inner Chapters. He refers to a recent study which claims to cast doubt on the traditionally held belief that Zhuangzi at least wrote the first seven chapters of the Zhuangzi. When will it ever end?!

I have already conceded the rest of the thirty-three chapters to Confucian Syncretists, Yangists, Agrarianists, and School of Zhuangzians who, though loyal, sometimes strayed in their doctrines from the pure faith. I have even conceded that the entire book was edited, even 'cobbled together', by an unknown editor. But now, even the authorship of the sacred Inner Chapters, cobbled or otherwise, are under attack!

I propose we create a Red-letter edition which establishes once and for all the actual words of Zhuangzi. We must hold the line!

But wait, on closer reading, I discover that there is no proof of this assertion, but only evidence leading to a suspicion that such may be the case. I need not chuck the faith quite yet.

But why this title, this definitive declaration of fact? Did this someone purposely intend to deceive? Or did he just wish to give us a Zen-slap upside the head? It must be this latter; he just wanted to remind us that the Zhuangzi is just another fish-trap, the origin of which really has nothing to do with whether we catch fish with it. And like every other fish-trap, once we've got the fish, who needs the trap?

If I were marooned on the proverbial deserted island and had but one book, it would unquestionably be the Zhuangzi. But if I had no book at all, it wouldn't matter — this path is in my heart and truly unique to me. Thanks for the leg up Zhuangzi, or Pseudo-Zhuangzi(s), I can manage the rest from here.

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

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