Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Great Completeness

Scott Bradley


"Skillful barking does not make a dog good, and skillful talking does not make a man even a worthy, much less a great man. . . . Nothing is more complete than heaven and earth, but do they become so by seeking to be so? One who understands the great completeness seeks nothing, loses nothing, abandons nothing, never letting mere beings alter who he is. He returns only to his own self, yet he finds it inexhaustible." (Zhuangzi, Chap. 24; Ziporyn)

It is a vain endeavor which seeks through some attainment, whatever that attainment might be, to be more complete. If we are not already so, then we never shall be so. But we are already so. We are no different than the cosmos, no different than the Totality. The great completeness is just this. I guess Zhouzi didn't think up the Simple Way after all; it was derived from the thought of others. On reflection, this should not surprise us; all we think and believe is derived, borrowed from those who have thought them before us.

I typically begin my day by writing a post. If I have not done so, I may begin the day feeling unfulfilled. If I think I've written a particularly 'good' one, I feel charged. Skillful barking makes me feel like a good dog. But then, sometimes I re-read what I have previously written and it seems like a pretentious pile of steaming shit. And it is.

There is only one source of completeness, and that is the completeness which is beyond our attempts to make it so. It either is, or it is not. Daoism believes it is. And Daoism is only this, realizing this completeness. Whatever means by which we might wish to "understand" this, have it inform our being in the world in its totality, we begin with this understanding. There is something to attain, and this is a transformative understanding of what is already the case, realized or not. It is for this reason that the means are never other than the end. For this reason Daoism does not tell us to fall on our swords, beat ourselves up, or declare holy war on our very selves. We begin in affirmation and end in affirmation.

Why should it surprise us that the spring of our sense of completeness is to be found within? All things external, however wonderful, are mere appendages to what is essential to our human experience. "The way out is in." What do we find there that is "inexhaustible"? It is life itself, which wells-up from an unknown source, and this is sufficient unto itself.

She who understands the great completeness seeks nothing, loses nothing, abandons nothing. Why? Because all is affirmed.

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

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