A New World Order
by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
Zhuangzi tells the story of Tian Gen who was wandering in the wilderness when he came upon a nameless man of whom he felt compelled to ask: "How is the world to be managed?"
After basically telling him to get lost, Nameless, clearly a sage, continued with a most poetic description of what he was about to do before being disturbed: "I'll ride off on a bird formed from unkempt wisps of air, out beyond the six extremities of the known world, roaming in the homeland of nothing at all, thereby taking my place in the borderless wilds. Why do you come here to bother my mind with this business of ordering the world?" (Zhuangzi, 7:4; B. Ziporyn) I said 'poetic', but could it be descriptive of an actual possibility of transcendent experience available to you and me?
But Tian is persistent and asks his question again. Nameless, more helpful this time, replies: "Let your mind roam in the flavorless, blend your vital energy (qi) with the boundless silence, follow the rightness of the way each thing already is without allowing yourself the least bias. Then the world will be in order."
Again, Nameless suggests an experience of deep transcendence, but this time adds the consequent and essential Zhuangzian attitudinal shift, the following along with the rightness of each thing. "Then the world will be in order!" The transformation of the world takes place, not in the world, but in our perception of it. As he so often does, Zhuangzi turns everything on its head. The world is in order for those who can affirm it as such. But this requires a perspective beyond individual identity and from beyond the confines of the world. In our "homeland of nothing at all”, “the borderless wilds”, all is well.
When it's raining, be a duck. When toasty-warm, be a lizard basking on his rock. Can’t do it? No problem, just go along with the rightness of that. How could the world be better?
Does all this obviate the need for caring activism? Not at all. In the world of the spiritual, the law of contradiction does not apply.
You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.