Wednesday, October 16, 2013

When the Shoe Fits III

Scott Bradley

The forgetting of the foot means the shoe fits comfortably. The forgetting of the waist means the belt fits comfortably. And when the understanding forgets right and wrong, the mind fits comfortably.
(Zhuangzi 19; Ziporyn)
Neither the forgotten foot nor the forgotten waist are lost, cease to be, or are in any way denied. It's just that worrying over them does not obstruct one's enjoyment of life. One typically hikes to enjoy being in nature; but if the feet hurt, that purpose is defeated. Forgetting right and wrong does not mean that there is no such thing, but that they do not obstruct one's free and spontaneous response to life.

Chu the Artisan did not stop in mid swoop to question whether his arc was true or no; to have done so would have insured its failure to be so. The art of wuwei is an invitation to live as Chu drew.

We can debate about right and wrong — whether there is any sure foundation upon which they can rest, whether they are entirely relative distinctions or not — but that would certainly not be to forget them. Somewhere in the Zen literature it says that to talk about right and wrong is to be bound by right and wrong. That we feel compelled to worry at their being forgotten means we are unable to forget them.

Let the art critic worry over whether Chu's arc is true; Chu trusts his hand's wisdom in transforming along with the requirements of an arc. Which is forgotten, the hand or the arc? Might it not be both? Like his hand, Chu simply follows along with the arising of life's eventualities, never finding it necessary to "check or verify" whether his responses are 'right or wrong'. That would be to hesitate mid-swoop and spoil what can only happen in spontaneity, the not-making of a work of art.

When the mind fits comfortably, life is enjoyed. If Chu turned about and worried about what his hand had made, it would not matter what it had made, he would not be living his art.

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

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