Monday, July 15, 2013

Archer Yi II: Putting Down the Bow

Scott Bradley

Only a true Virtuoso can understand what is unavoidable and find peace in it as his own fate. If you play around Archer Yi's target, lurking near the bull's-eye, it is only normal to get hit. If you manage not to get hit, that's just fate, good luck.
(Zhuangzi 5:12; Ziporyn)
Guo Xiang (252-312) remarks: "Because the world is constantly at war over benefit and harm, everyone in the world is Archer Yi." Though this may be a bit off-target in terms of Zhuangzi's intended meaning here, still it makes a point well worth exploring. We are all Archer Yi in that we all deem to judge the worthiness of ourselves and others on the basis of a narrow, self-imposed and artificial bull's-eye. And no matter how worthy an archer we might be, not a soul who lurks nearby will fail to take a hit. Were we not also standing in front of our own bull's-eye perhaps this would not seriously impact our happiness, but we are and it does. And because everyone else is likewise an Archer Yi, we too are sure to take still more hits. All this leads to a great deal of unnecessary pain for us all.

Or perhaps this is germane to Zhuangzi's present story. One disciple judges another as unworthy because he is a one-footed ex-con. Clearly, there are arrows flying through the air even here where their master teaches them to "wander beyond shapes and bodies", beyond the need to judge. But of course there are; this is why these men are here. Even the victim fires back a few of his own. But let's not judge them. Like them, let's surrender ourselves into a place where we can understand how it is that we are the authors of our own pain and in accepting that gradually learn to put aside our bows.

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

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