Monday, January 7, 2013

Letting the Gold Lie Hidden II

Scott Bradley


As discussed in the previous post, the 12th chapter of the Zhuangzi appears to be a syncretistic borrowing of Daoist thought and terminology grafted onto a more fundamental Confucian bias. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the author evinces a profound Daoist sensibility in his presentation of the attributes of a sage.

Did he also possess these attributes? I think that unlikely; but then, I think it unlikely that Zhuangzi, or possibly any other human being has ever possessed them. What, are we in pursuit of some static ideal, the proof of which is belief in completely realized sages? Or might we simply be on open-ended journeys toward a likewise open-ended vision of wholeness? Whatever the case, such an approach could hardly do any harm and might even be prerequisite to realization of the ideal.

I am a mere inkler, an advocate of imaginative meditation with a view to experiencing a mere something of the attributes of a sage; anything further would be beyond my powers in any case.

So here are a few simple expressions of the attributes of a sage found in the 12th chapter which I believe, if imaginatively reflected upon, might provide an inkling of the underlying mind-space of a sage. For the most part, I see them as inviting us to discover what underlying perspective might make them possible. After proclaiming the "oceanic greatness" of Dao, the author tells us that "the superior man lays his mind bare to it". This is what such a meditation attempts to do.
". . . he let's the gold lie hidden in the mountains."

"He does not rejoice in longevity, is not saddened by premature death."

"He finds no glory in success, no shame in poverty."

"His distinction lies in understanding that the myriad things belong to a single treasury, and that life and death have the same appearance."
(Mair)
You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

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