Friday, June 8, 2012

More Guo: The Equality of All Things

Scott Bradley

Commenting on the passage ending, "Allow your ears and eyes to open inward and thereby place yourself beyond your mind's understanding consciousness" (Zhuangzi, 4:12; Ziporyn), Guo Xiang writes: "This means no being is worth more than any other being." If you find this a peculiar logical leap, I can only concur. If, however, we understand "this means", not as a logical conclusion, but as an experiential one, we begin to see the connection. Guo has followed Zhuangzi's advice and put himself outside his mind's understanding consciousness, and has consequentially experienced this fundamental Daoist perspective, namely the equality of all things.

Needless to say, I've discussed this many times before. But it is a concept so pivotal to the Daoist vision, and so effective in illuminating the liberating quality of it, I can only return to it again and again, for my own sake, if not for yours.

Humanity is no more special than an ant hill. Earth is just another thing. Perhaps, even in this moment, a supernova has incinerated a species far more evolved and seemingly more 'precious' than our own, one that has achieved harmony within and without itself. So what? All that "is" is equally a part of one great arising, without a known purpose, without a goal, without an end. Dao is manifest as this endless transformation. The view from Dao embraces the totality of things and assigns no special status to any. "Dao is inhumane; it treats humanity like straw dogs."

Does this go against your grain? That's the whole point; that's why it liberates.

When we have taken this on aboard and have gone beyond all this narrow, self-indulgent, anthropocentric 'caring', only then are we able to embrace and care for it all. Only when we have become the truth that no being is worth more than any other are we able to truly appreciate the worth of all things, each and every thing. Yes, again we are asked to walk two roads, and to understand how they are one.

This is but the beginning of Guo's argument, and it takes still other challenging leaps, and I will attempt to jump along with him in the following posts. We need not accept all that he says; the real point is to be stretched and shaken within our own preconceptions, that we might discover a new perspective, distinctly our own, and more transcendent of our typically myopic view.

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

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