Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I Am Not a Taoist

Scott Bradley

Actually, I have no real intention of explaining why I am not a Taoist. In any case, why should you care? I wish only to say, I am not a Taoist.

I am not a Taoist, not for faults within Taoism, but because I am not really anything at all. That I find wonderful inspiration within the proto-Taoist canon and embrace many of its tenets is clear enough. But the spirit of that which I embrace disallows that I should name myself anything at all. This is why I embrace it.

"The Radiance of Drift and Doubt is the sage's only map." I have embraced this, Zhuangzi's manifesto. Taoism has charted the seas and printed the map. I choose to drift and explore.

How is it that I always hear the objections, though none have here been raised? Is it because they have been raised so many times before, and shall forever be so? Or is it because I raise them myself?

Both. Isn't this but another dogma? This is the objection. And it cannot be rebutted. For that which rebuts, is rebuttal. And rebuttal is that which rebuts. It has no other nature, no other aim. The handmaiden of rebuttal is infinite regress; it will never find its end.

The dialectic of drift and doubt is self-critiquing and ever leads, not to more, but to less. It ever seeks critical zero. Ever it would be empty. And its practitioner, like the phoenix, ever rises, ever self-immolates.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.


  1. I never thought you were. I don't think anyone here is.

    Lest anyone be confused, your particular reference to the "phoenix" is not Chinese. The phoenix (fenghuang) in Chinese symbolism is not of a rising/immolating bird, "rising from the ashes" as we often say, but a symbol of immortality, a complement to the dragon. It is, like the Chinese dragon, a composite mythological creature.

  2. I like a lot of the stuff in the Lao Tzu and the Chuang Tzu but I'm actually a Wowist. A one person following of the amazing wonder of existence and non existence, being and non. The wow that can be spoken of is not feeling wow. Wow is complete but all else only find being through their opposite. My house is made from stone but I live in the emptiness.


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