Thursday, September 22, 2011

Anonymous 2B: Condemned By Heaven

Anonymous 2B:
Condemned By Heaven

by Scott Bradley

The concept of being "condemned by Heaven" is intended to bring us to an acceptance of our fate. Our collective fate is to be human beings with all the limitations that this implies. Nothing better defines us than that we are limited. But the idea of limitation arises because we are capable of envisioning the unlimited which we are not. Thus, if there is to be experience of the unlimited, the Taoist path tells us, then it will come through the limited. It is in the upaya of 'path', and all the other 'beliefs' and 'hindrances', that we experience the unlimited. We use our non-transcendence to transcend. We realize our humanity by being human. If we choose to do so.

'Not-knowing' is a negation and thus necessarily not transcendence, if we understand transcendence as, among other things, a realization beyond contradictions. What it is, is a recognition of one fundamental limitation of the human experience. We do not know.

Zhuangzi embraces this limitation and uses it as a springboard to transcendent experience. He recognizes where the "understanding consciousness" stops, and entrusts himself to what he cannot know. It is only this entrusting that is the experience, the gateway to this experience. Moreover, his transcendent experience, expedited by not-knowing, remains unknowing. He roams in "the land of not even anything, the vast wilds of open nowhere." Yan Hui does not find himself, but rather discovers that he has "not yet begun to exist".

Zhuangzi's Confucius also understands that there is individual fate. We have our unique and individual limitations. (And our 'strengths' are also limitations.) Does this mean that we cannot all realize the ultimate experience? No. It means that there is no ultimate experience. There is only the experience which we are individually capable of experiencing.

The Taoist vision is not an idealistic one. It does not prescribe. It does not begin with Truth or some concept of Enlightenment and apply it from above. Quite the contrary, it suggests we find the roots of our being and let them grow without the imposition preconceived goals. It is enough to live. Live and let live begins right here in our own hearts. Let yourself emerge from your own unique experience. Do not fetter yourself with hypothetical ultimates. These are the prescriptions of non-prescriptive Taoism.

Did Confucius' inability to 'live outside the lines' condemn him to a life of bondage and non-transcendence? No. It enabled him to realize his own unique transcendence.

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

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