Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Conversion Experience V

Scott Bradley


In the previous post I quoted what I called a summation of Zhuangzi's mystical vision and that began with, "In this way . . . " In what way? In addition to all that has already been said of Liezi's conversion experience, we have immediately preceding this summation a presentation of wuwei in verse. It would probably be a mistake to speak of a causative relationship between this mystical experience and wuwei, or any other expression of the experience, the whole being organically interconnected. Still, these expressions provide a window into the whole.
"Not doing, not being a corpse presiding over your good name; . . ."
Once again we see how dependence on reputation, worry about how we are perceived by others, motivates one to actively do stuff. This, no doubt, is a consequence of wanting to be 'someone' generally. To be inauthentic is to be like a corpse.
"Not doing, not being a repository of plans and schemes; . . ."
Like so much in Daoism, the only real negation is of the manner of our relationship to activities, not of the activities themselves. Not-doing is doing, but doing in a different way. We plan, but not in a way that robs of us of immediacy and an openness to whatever transpires.
"Not doing, not being the one in charge of what has to happen; . . ."
Being "unfixed" we are open to whatever happens and can thus respond to each new situation on its own terms.
"Not doing, not being ruled by your own understanding. . . ." (7:12; Ziporyn)
An alternative rendering might be "not being a proprietor of wisdom", but Ziporyn comments that his translation "is consistent with Zhuangzi's critiques of taking the mind as teacher (2:12, 4:8) or the giving of precedence to 'knowing' over 'life' as the 'ruler' . . . (3:2)." [I have manipulated this sentence a bit to make it clearer.]

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

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