A NEW PHILOSOPHICAL DAOISM VI

This series is largely inspired by my need to make periodic disclaimers. For all my often apparently unequivocal pronouncements regarding the character of Zhuangzi’s Daoism, I wish to make clear that I do not believe I or anyone else can be sure of what we speak. This, I believe, is precisely how Zhuangzi would have had it. (Here I go again.) This is his whole point. Depend on nothing. Release into not-knowing. Live life as it manifests in you, not as you might otherwise wish it to be. Add nothing to the process of life. Don’t flee from the actual experience of being human, but rather make creative use of it. Let your inherent adriftedness be an occasion for your wandering, rather than for clinging to chimeric moorings.

Do this. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter all that much. All is well in any case. Isn’t it? It is or it isn’t. But from the cosmic perspective it is whether it is or it is not. Isn’t it?

Every presentation of Daoism, at least of the philosophic variety, is a new philosophical Daoism. There is no such thing as a fixed definition and experience of Daoism. Why would we wish it to be otherwise? Why would we wish to follow rather than to lead? Because, unless we are self-deceived, we know we can only lead ourselves, and that is a lonely experience. Why would we wish to believe in the already-fixed rather than to create anew? Because, unless we are delusional, we know that whatever we create is as ridiculously tenuous as we know ourselves to be. It’s so much easier and more comforting to abrogate responsibility to external authorities which somehow escape the scrutiny of doubt.

Then there is the problem of personal reality. I realize little of my own blabber. But surely the blabbering sages realized their own blabber. That’s why they’re sages, right? We can believe that what we believe is real, because we believe that it was real for someone else. This is called begging the question, placing the conclusion in the premise. Sages exist because they say they do (and sages don’t lie)—or more sagaciously, someone else says they do.

“The ancients called this, ‘fleeing from the Lord’s dangle’.” I call it fleeing from your real experience. Whether there actually are or were sages who realized their own blabber, we live more authentically when we leave the question moot.

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