Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Depending on Nothing III

Scott Bradley

Zhuangzi asks, "What would it be like to depend on . . . nothing?"

Our psychological dependencies are innumerable. Each one of them binds us. Yet it is not the actual fact of a dependency that does so, but our relationship to it. The farmer depends on rain to water his crops. Does he obsess about its lack, or does he follow along with what happens beyond his control? But what about . . . feeding the world, earning a living, feeding his children, keeping the family farm? Every objection, every qualification, every worry, is precisely that point at which our psychological dependency reveals itself. And it is where we discover how worry limits our freedom to wander at ease in the world.

These objections are what give our imagining traction. We are glad for them. Yet some objections are more subtle, especially those of the morally offended. 'So, do we let our children starve?' There is absolutely nothing in freedom from psychological dependency that obviates one's responsibilities in the world. Do we do 'the right thing' because it's 'right' or because our heart is 'right'? Do we feed our children because we are supposed to, or because our love for them leads us to do so? Dependence on moral law is perhaps our greatest dependency, and one that binds us with a thousand cords.

Or we can cut to the chase; does it not always come down to the preservation of 'me' and 'mine'? Is not my very existence at stake? Can I not depend on that? Can I not just "hand it all over to the unavoidable"?

You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.

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