Monday, October 7, 2013

Building on Zhuangzi IX

Scott Bradley

From the point of view of the Course [Dao], no thing is more valuable than any other. But from the point of view of itself, each thing is worth more and all the others are worth less. And from the point of view of convention, the value of things is not determined by themselves.
(Zhuangzi, 17; Ziporyn)
Did I say that we could simultaneously walk all three of these points of view at once? You do know that I am making this up as I go along, right? I was inspired by Lusthaus' comment that the Ocean God does not recommend one over the other, but does this mean we can walk them all simultaneously? Not necessarily, but I would like to take a stab at understanding how this might be possible.

It is the Dao-perspective that would make it possible to fully embrace the self-perspective and the conventional-perspective, but this view would also have to first transform them. As given, they are uninformed by the view from Dao.

Informed by Dao, the self-perspective need not judge others as less worthy than itself while maintaining its own self-interests. This latter is, I think, what is the essential in being an individual being, a self; we take care of ourselves. This is what life would have us do. Informed by the Dao-perspective, we can exercise this inherent impulse to life enhancement and preservation without the negation of others. We do not depend on negation for our affirmation. We understand the equal worthiness of all things, and in this all need for comparison vanishes. Thus, we walk the self-perspective without its negation of other self-perspectives.

Similarly, our bondage to conventional opinion is overturned in that our sense of worthiness is not derived from the opinion of others (society) or from the fixed meta-values that society seeks to impose upon us. This freedom is the freedom to be different, but it is also the freedom to "follow along" with society since "being different", which amounts to a negation, is no longer required as means to self-worth. Thus we walk the road of society's conventions where we may, because the view from Dao makes our being different to be that we do not need to be different.

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

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