Wednesday, July 17, 2013

All Things Are One I: Perspectival Oneness

Scott Bradley

Looked at from the point of view of their differences, even your own liver and gallbladder are as distant as Chu in the south and Yue in the north. But looked at from the point of view of their sameness, all things are one.
(Zhuangzi 5:5; Ziporyn)
This is one of those passages where the best I, or anyone else perhaps, can do is offer it for your meditative consideration. Simple though it be, it can have profound consequences in how we live our being in the world. Posts to follow will explore these, but here we will consider what it means for Zhuangzi that “all things are one.”

A. C. Graham has observed in this context that Zhuangzi never proclaims the oneness of things in a metaphysical sense. Though that oneness seems to suggest itself, metaphysical beliefs are largely inconsequential to the oneness that Zhuangzi advocates. This is merely a way of looking at the world; it is a psychological experience; it is a question of perspective.

This experience may be profoundly transformative; it may be comparable to those experiences realized in other traditions which do give them a metaphysical spin, but for Zhuangzi, not only does one need not do so, but a significant aspect of his way is predicated on a refusal to do so. Openness, for him, is not to something, but to a vastness without the boundaries which a ‘something’ requires.

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

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