Saturday, February 23, 2013

Miserably Wise

Scott Bradley

Jiao approached Zhouzi in the garden and said, "Master, while visiting my home village I shared your way with all I thought might listen, but none seemed to care. I met their indifference with greater stridence and thus showed them what your way is not and myself as but another self-absorbed contender. I dishonored both your way and myself. Now, I feel so miserable I wish to retreat to the forest that I might fade into my own obscurity. I try to affirm myself as I am, but fail at even this."

"'Even this?!'" exclaimed Zhouzi. "Were you able to do 'even this' all else would be done! Yet though it may be true that you cannot do this, can you not affirm yourself as one not able to do it? It is said that every journey begins with one step; and every step begins precisely where you are. Are you ever anywhere other than in the Great Emerging? Are you ever other than Dao? Yet you think you must journey to somewhere when to journey is but to live and living has no end."

"What good fortune you have to have failed so completely!" Zhouzi continued. "What greater fortune still that you feel so miserable! You are your own best teacher, why do you come to me? Surely you have asked yourself why you are miserable at your public failing?"

"I have, Master," replied Jiao, "and know that it is that I want to be esteemed. I wanted my village to exclaim, 'Behold, Jiao has become a sage!' Instead, they saw me as I have always been. I want to be seen as special. I want to be someone. I know that self gives rise to other and other gives rise to self, yet I cannot break the chain.”

“My dear Jiao,” Zhouzi continued, “you are wise in your misery, and thus are you more miserable still! Now, are you able to become still wiser? Indeed it is written, “He who nurtures what it within, cares nothing for name.” Your misery is founded on only this. Caring for the opinion of others is the beginning of misery. How much more when you have made of yourself some other to yourself! Here in this misery you can discover the joy of no-conditions-to-meet.”

“As for dishonoring ‘my way’, that it could be dishonored at all would be dishonor enough. Think not to bring it where it already is, nor that it needs to be known where it is not.”

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

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