Monday, March 26, 2012

Deathlessness II

Scott Bradley

There is a passage in the Zhuangzi where Daoist practitioners are described as considering life to be just an abscess on the body of Reality, and death its lancing. Taken too literally, this could be construed as demeaning of life, but its intent is simply to expose our prejudice for life over death. Not only does Daoism deny the validity of such a prejudice, it understands the evaluative equalization of life and death as a necessary part of its more general goal of the transcendence. Transcendence of what? Of our bondage to fixed-identity. Transcendence to what? Into the Totality.

We do have our prejudices. Consciousness, for instance, is generally considered the highest expression of Reality. Self-consciousness trumps all. Salvation becomes a realization of "cosmic consciousness". Lila is the great dance wherein Reality separates from itself so as to become conscious of itself; Reality needs consciousness.

The proto-Daoist Shen Dao, on the other hand, tells us "a clump of earth never strays from the Course (Dao)". Trees exhibit greater tranquility than humans. Rocks never strive. Perhaps the ‘pyramid of life’ could just as easily be turned on its head.

The point is not to denigrate the consciousness which is so integral to the human experience, however, but rather to simply put it in the context of something greater than consciousness, a something of which consciousness cannot be conscious.

Daoism does give a certain priority to the "formless" because there would seem to be a lot more of 'it' than of the "formed", just as we spend a great deal more time non-existent than existent. But this is remedially required given our grasping of the formed. When one realizes the Totality, life is affirmed and fulfilled as not otherwise possible.

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

1 comment:

  1. I think I have said before, my first response to the concepts of internal alchemy meditation was "We're learning to be dead."


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