Monday, July 4, 2011

Under Heaven: Tian Pian and Peng Meng

Under Heaven: Tian Pian and Peng Meng
by Scott Bradley


These two worthies are mentioned together with Shen Dao as expressing some aspect of the shattered Way, though the author (Chapter 33 of Zhuangzi), in the end dismisses all three as not having really known the Tao. I wonder. And in any case, I commend them for their wonderful, homophonic names.

Tian, the author tells us, studied under Peng, who taught "the eschewal of all positive teachings." This, if nothing else, endears him to my heart. By "positive teachings" I understand statements of fact about metaphysical realities (and there is, I believe, little else) of which we haven't a clue. Remove these from religion and philosophy and what remains? Only the possibility of surrender in trust. Or so it seems to me.

Peng's unnamed teacher said, "The ancient men of the Course simply reached the point of considering nothing right or wrong." This is not a statement about morality, of course, but about one's relation to the world; it is about transcending preferences.

Again, most these exponents of the shattered Way (seeing but one aspect of It) seem to have been proto-Taoists. So, much of what we find in Zhuangzi, for example, had already been conceived by earlier seekers of a way.

Apart from the aforementioned dismissal, our author had little else to say of these philosophers, but I suspect we find their ideas hidden within those we know better.

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

1 comment:

  1. ..."their wonderful, homophonic names."

    Does anyone know the characters (or the pinyin with tones indicated) for Tian Pian and Peng Meng? A concordance for Zhuangzi?

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