Monday, June 11, 2012

More Guo: Spontaneity Rules I

Scott Bradley

But the world does not understand that knowing knows spontaneously, and hence they want to deliberately operate some 'knowing' to know with. They don't see that seeing sees spontaneously, and thus they try to deliberately operate some 'seeing' to see with. And again, they don't know that life lives itself spontaneously, and thus they try to deliberately operate a 'life' to live with.
(Guo Xiang; Zhuangzi; Ziporyn)
Guo continues his expostulation of the consequences of the experience of the view from Dao. I have called the steps in his argument "leaps" because they do not follow a strictly logical progression, but an experiential one. His place of departure, the experience of going beyond the "understanding consciousness", is the pivotal experience from which all these subsequent insights emerge. Beyond the understanding consciousness where no dualistic discrimination, judgmental or intellectual, abides, one meets Vastness; in Vastness, is the unity and equality of all things; this implies the "rightness" of each thing in the place that it occupies. It also implies that things are so rooted in Dao that their every expression is spontaneous and ultimately beyond deliberate choice. This leads to an apparent fatalistic determinism. Yet, to see it so, would be to use the understanding consciousness to describe what it cannot begin to fathom. In any event, the flip side of determinism is freedom; though opposites, they are linked.

If all this seems convoluted, confusing, and overly intellectualized, we might want to simply take the short-cut and realize the view from Dao. With that, no explanations are necessary.

Human beings think they are in control. We even think that spontaneity is something we do. "Be spontaneous." Not so, says Guo; spontaneity is what happens outside deliberate activity and, significantly, this includes everything we do and experience, deliberately or otherwise. Yes, even deliberate activity is a kind of spontaneous activity; do you think your choices arise in a vacuum? You are not in control.

How do we know? We spontaneously know. How do we see? We spontaneously see. How is it that we live? We spontaneously live. It happens. We are not in control. Freedom is found in understanding this and, in surrendering our presumed control, just going along for the ride. The joy of life, like running the rapids, is in letting oneself be carried along by the current — and in skillfully meeting each new challenge through honoring and harnessing the power of each.

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

1 comment:

  1. It is a very fine, important and powerful message. We are truly the vastness and this is great. What people insist on doing though is being a person within the vastness, a person in the world, born and sure to die, who is somehow strong and wise. They'll never be as great as a human as they automatically are by simply being the vast unfolding.


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