ZHUANGZI ON THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS IV

Blog:  So, let’s see if we’ve got this right: It’s consistent with your philosophy that we care about these elections, that we see the present way of doing things in America as inhumane and that that angers us, that we believe that positive change is possible, and that we have chosen a particular candidate as the best one on offer to ameliorate the situation. Do you agree?

Zhuangzi:  I do. And I am doing all these things. But I’m not saying these opinions are the “right” opinions, only that they are the ones that arise from my own heart.

B:  But all of these activities seem contrary to what we have been taught about Daoism—that we shouldn’t care, get involved, be angry, have hope for a better future, or choose one thing over another. And this is because . . . ?

Z:  Because “Daoism”, like most every “ism”, is typically understood as a logical system with fixed principles to be applied to life. But life is none of these things. This “Daoism” takes its mind as its teacher rather than letting life happen. There’s no logic in life. In life there is no “A is not non-A”. Life simply doesn’t make sense, but people want it to make sense and thus tend to see only one side of the coin. We can’t see the other side, so we forget it and take the side we see as complete and final. Now it makes sense. Now life is coherent. But of course it’s not and can never be. Any “-ism” that tells us how we should behave is taking its mind as its teacher.

B:  So, your “Daoism” basically says: “We can be fully engaged in the messiness of life, but remember that the messiness is unavoidable and perpetual—there are no cut and dry answers to anything.”

Z:  Exactly. We can be fully engaged because that’s how life manifests itself in us. But let everything simultaneously “bask in the broad daylight of Heaven” as that Ziporyn guy translates me (not too badly either, a bit poetically maybe, but he usually captures the spirit of things)—that’s the other side of the coin. That’s the side that tells us that though everything matters absolutely, nothing ultimately matters at all. It’s the side that says “all is well”. What? Donald Trump becoming president is going to mess up the cosmic harmony? Ha, ha!

B:  So we can hope not to see Trump or (shutter) Cruz as president, but we can still have a good laugh if they do.

Z:  Yep. If you can’t have a good laugh whatever happens, then you’re just walking one road.

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