Monday, February 25, 2013

How To Be Heavenly

Scott Bradley


When Wen brought Zhouzi his morning tea he found him reading. "Tell me Wen, have you ever seen an insect that failed to be an insect?" asked Zhouzi.

"Master, I have not. Nor do I believe there has ever been such a thing," replied Wen.

"Or a tree that failed to be a tree? Or a rock that was not a rock?"

"No, Master, everything is precisely and perfectly what it is. In this, nothing can be improved upon."

"And what of the human Wen, have you ever seen a human that failed to be a human? Or a human that was not 'precisely and perfectly what it is'?"

"Master, it is as you kindly imply, every human being is precisely a human being and perfectly the individual human being that it is. To realize this true of oneself is the joy of the sage."

"So, I have heard," chuckled Zhouzi. "But listen to this that is written here in the Book of Zhuangzi: 'Only an insect can be an insect, and only by being an insect can it be the Heavenly.' What think you Wen, is an insect heavenly by virtue of being that which it cannot otherwise be?"

"Master, all things are heavenly! The ant is Dao! The ant is all that is! Why do you put me to the test?"

"I do no such thing, but rather tap your wisdom, Wen. But let us not forget that the ant is Dao only by virtue of its being an ant and thus there is Dao because there is ant. So tell me, is a human being heavenly by virtue of being that which it cannot otherwise be?"

"It is just so, Master."

“Then all human beings are equal in being heavenly. There is not one who deviates from the heavenly, for all that one is and does is the heavenly. Is this also so?”

“It is also so, Master, though the discriminating mind is pained to say it.”

“The untempered discriminating mind is a divisive and fearful mind. An equalizing mind is a tranquil and peaceful mind. What gratuitous harm has such a mind ever done? But what of the sage and the common person, can we not discriminate between them?”

“Master, we can and we cannot. The sage is he who has realized that he is the same with the common person, and not only that, but also with everything that is or is not.”

“Wenzi, call me no longer ‘Master’, but Friend!”

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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