Monday, March 4, 2013

Seeing the Ant

Scott Bradley


Tzulu approached Zhouzi distressed at the behavior of many in the community and exclaimed, "Master, since Jiaozi saw his ant all the community is scurrying about looking for and contemplating ants! Some have even taken them as pets so as to not lose sight of them! What should we do?"

At this Zhouzi burst into laughter and it was some time before he could answer. Finally, wiping his face of tears, he said, "My dear Tzulu, why should we do anything? If they are contemplating ants, it is for some hopeful purpose; who's to say that it might not be realized?"

"But Master," objected Tzulu, "they are committing the twin errors of thinking one thing more special than any other and of following the path of another as if it were their own."

"These are indeed 'errors'," answered Zhouzi, "but perhaps those who are committing them might learn something through them; this is a lesson that no correction by another could match. Nevertheless, tell me how you would instruct them."

"Master, I would tell them that the is-ness of the ant is no different than the is-ness of any other thing and that to identify one thing as special in this regard is to rob even them of their is-ness; for nothing participates in the unity of being except in that all things do."

"Your analysis is both profound and subtle, Tzulu," replied Zhouzi, "but will they 'see the ant' because of the subtlety of their understanding, or because what they see is what an ant is? Is not the ant itself the understanding they seek? There exists no is-ness outside the things that are, but only in the things that are."

"And though it is true," Zhouzi continued, "that every path is unique, is it not while stumbling down the path of another that we find our own? All this community stumbles down my path, but none will realize their own joy until they step off mine and onto their own. Would you have me kick them off my path before they do?"

"No, Master, I would not." answered Tzulu. "Should I then leave them to their folly?"

"I would have you do as you think best," replied Zhouzi. "Only remember that once the rice is in the paddy it is best to leave it to grow as it can."

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