Sunday, March 3, 2013

Subsumed But Affirmable

Scott Bradley


Once again the district lord sent a messenger demanding that Zhouzi appear before him so as to dispute the Way, and once again Zhouzi complied; only this time he sent Tzuyang in his stead.

When Tzuyang appeared before him the lord was angry and said, "Where is Zhouzi? Why has he sent his underling in his stead?!"

"My Lord," replied Tzuyang, "my master thinks a fresh perspective might better serve his lord."

"Speak then, and we shall see," said the lord.

"My Lord," answered Tzuyang, "the simple way is not such that it need be spoken, for it only affirms what is."

"Then it has already said too much," retorted the lord. "I do not agree with this doctrine that affirms right and wrong, truth and falsehood, alike. What say you to that?"

"That your position is most affirmable, My Lord," replied Tzuyang.

"Your affirmation means nothing when all else, however wrong, is also affirmed!" declared the lord.

"My Lord, is quite right," replied Tzuyang, "though perhaps we might also say that when nothing is affirmed as the negation of something else, everything is already affirmed."

"Enough!" exclaimed the lord. "The way of Zhouzi is like a rising tide that will not stop; it inundates, covers and obliterates all the works of human distinction!"

"Well said, My Lord!" replied Tzuyang. "Only we might also say that the waters are crystal, the distinctions of men still clearly seen below, and therefore most affirmable."

"Out!" shouted the lord. "I will entertain no more of this nonsensical drivel!"

At that, Tzuyang bowed twice and departed.

Never again did the feudal lord summon Zhouzi to dispute his way, and Zhouzi always smiled broadly upon Tzuyang.

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

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