Monday, January 9, 2012

Live and Let Live

Scott Bradley


"Live and let live" is a worthy sentiment which recommends a laissez faire approach to our being among others. I would like to consider how it might also apply to how we relate to ourselves.

This begins with a consideration of the phenomenon of life, specifically the life that we individually are. Do I have a life? Or does life have me? How we answer this question can have profound implications for how we live. If I have a life, then it is "I" that is primary; I am in charge. I rule. This, I think, is generally how humanity sees itself. If, on the other hand, I understand that I am consequent and secondary to the arising of life as a phenomenon independent of myself, then I am able to let life rule. I follow along with the flow of life. This, I believe, is the Taoist understanding of the nature of things.

Looked at from the point of view of the primacy of no-self, the idea that the egoic identity is merely a fabrication of mind, this Taoist understanding makes perfect sense. Life in this case precedes all identity. There is a life, individuated and manifest, yet without identity. The mind is incapable of imagining such a thing, of course, for it only by virtue of its assigning things an identity through names that it can operate. And its first name is 'me'.

This understanding is also the basis for Taoist concept of spontaneity. This is not the release of the ego to do as it pleases, but rather the act of getting the ego out of the way so that life can express itself. It is unmediated living. It is letting life live itself.

Such a way of living would seem to require a great deal of trust. And it does. One must entrust oneself to a force other than one's egoic self. One must let go into a vastness. However, if by 'trust' we mean a decision wherein we proclaim life trustworthy, then we have already mediated life through the discriminating filter of right and wrong. The classical debate regarding human nature, whether it is inherently good (Mencius), evil (Hsun Tzu), or neutral (Tung Chung-shu), cannot enter here any more than it enters into a consideration of nature. Do you find this difficult? So do I.

From the Taoist perspective, the best way to live is to let life live through you. And this can only happen when 'you' are no longer an individuated identity, but life itself.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, good, tao-wisom, will it work for the baroness?

    ReplyDelete

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