Original post date: May 13, 2010
Continuing with the discussion from Zhuangzi, Chapter 6...
Would it matter if what I call the Heavenly turned out to be what I call the Human and vice-versa? It would only if I were dependent on my understanding consciousness and took what it understands as fully formed and my teacher.
If, on the other hand, I took what the understanding does understand to nurture what it does not understand, I would be free to experientially explore this conscious existence beyond the boundaries of understanding. Moreover, both Nature and the Human would be naturally, that is, spontaneously, expressed in me, and this has nothing to do with understanding the process at all. Indeed, I think this is the true import of the coupling here of Genuine Knowledge with the Genuine Human Being. Genuine Knowledge is, in fact, not knowledge at all — it is the expression of Reality in life. The Genuine Human Being is someone who lives the life and need not and could not talk the talk. The Genuine Human Being does not know what is Nature in him and what is the human; he just lives naturally and their relationship is naturally expressed therein.
Thus, Zhuangzi fills our goblet with positive knowledge and then tips it all out lest we think words and ideas can express Reality or how best to harmonize with it. And this is his deepest purpose in having given us the ‘knowledge’ in the first place. But is that all there is to it, or is there something more? Have we not ‘learned’ anything else? We have. We have followed his finger to the moon, learned not to take the finger for the moon, and now we have an inkling of how it would be to genuinely know it.
And what do we mean by a ‘Genuine Human Being’? (Ziporyn)
We will not follow Zhuangzi’s description in detail but only touch upon that which best informs us regarding the relation of the Human and Reality.
Such was their way that their understanding was able, in its very demise, to ascend through the remotest vistas of the Course. This refers back to the opening statement where we are told that to know what the Human does is to understand the role of the ‘understanding consciousness’, namely, to find its limits and, through that limitation, nurture what is beyond its understanding. These hypothetical sages of old were able to transcend the muddle of transient concepts and experience Reality directly.
The Genuine Human Beings of old understood nothing about delighting in being alive or hating death. . . . They neither forgot where they came from nor asked where they would go. Receiving it, they delighted in it. Forgetting about it, they gave it back. This is what it means not to use the mind to push away the Course, not to use the Human to try to help the Heavenly.
As stated above, the most conspicuous givens of Reality from the Human perspective are life and death, and reconciliation with these givens is the most fundamental demonstration of knowing what man (ought to) do. What the Human “ought to do” is not take the mind as teacher, not use the mind to push away the Course, not to use the Human to try and help the Heavenly.
To use the Human to try and help the Heavenly would be to not stop at what the understanding does not know, but rather to go beyond the limits of understanding, using the understanding consciousness to formulate speculative belief systems which amount to a denial of the fundamental given of not-knowing, an incipient rejection of what is most fundamental about life and death, namely their inscrutability. Similarly, to take the tentative statement under consideration as definitive, objective truth would be to fail to live by what it teaches.
Ultimately, what is implied here is total acceptance of the reality that one knows nothing of his origins or destination(s) and this is manifest in an apparent indifference to both. But this indifference has only to do with what lies beyond the actual experience of life, not the experience itself. This explains the apparent contradiction between understanding nothing about delighting in being alive or hating death and receiving it, they delighted in it. It is not that the Genuine Human Being does not delight in life, but that he does not delight in life in contrast to hating death. He likewise delights in death. Indeed, he delights in and celebrates all the givens of his existence.
The Genuine Human Beings of old seemed to do whatever was called for but were not partisan to any one course. This line sums up a long paragraph in which the spontaneous activity of the sage is demonstrated. He acts sagaciously, but is not a sage; acts humanely, but is not humane; likewise, he is neither a worthy man, an exemplary man, nor a steadfast knight though the world might wish to describe him as such.
He lives in spontaneity and thus his actions cannot be understood in objective terms as if the application of principle or truth. In effect, he fulfills the teaching of the opening statement without cognitively adhering to it. The Genuine Human Being has Genuine Knowledge which, it turns out, is really no knowledge at all but the spontaneous realization of what knowledge attempts to know.
You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.