A NEW PHILOSOPHICAL DAOISM VII

“Daos are made by walking them.” Is there anyone who does not have a dao? We all walk a dao. Daos are unavoidable. Can we walk another’s dao? We can try. This is what we mostly do. Only now it is an inauthentic dao. Now it is a dao that fails to express our own individual experience; and this amounts to a flight from our own self-experience.

Are there then authentic and inauthentic daos? There are. But of course there is also neither. There are only daos that more closely approximate one or the other. Perfection and purity are only ideal abstractions—only helpful when understood as such; only full when empty.

Can we be authentically inauthentic? Sure; that’s called honesty. Can we be inauthentically authentic? Sure; that’s called hypocrisy and self-deception. Can we be both at once? Could we be otherwise?

“Daos are made by walking them.” Zhuangzi says so because he wishes to show their relative nature. We create our own unique daos. All daos are human creations. There’s no true Dao (Guidance) out there that we can discover. Heaven will not guide us. Any spoken Dao is not-Dao, but just another dao. In this he agrees with Laozi. Why is it that so much “Daoism” also agrees, only to once again speak of “attaining the Dao”? This Dao, though ineffable, is a something that can guide us mysteriously, mystically. Not to worry—there is True Guidance after all.

This is not Zhuangzi’s dao. In Zhuangzi’s dao, Dao remains silent; it is present only as an absence. It is Yin to our yang. It entices us to release into Mystery. Mystery cannot be yang-ed. It does not guide. It provides no answers.

Because Dao provides no one dao, no single dao alone reflects Dao. All daos are human creations; and in this sense they are all equal. All daos are Dao, where Dao is this apparent Happening and the mystery of this Happening. In this they are also all equal.

For Zhuangzi, psychological Dao is the only attainable Dao, and this entails the convergence of all daos; the realization of a oneness. This is the equalization of all daos, and the “attainment of Dao”.

All daos, whether authentic or inauthentic, are equal and affirmable. But they do not all equally contribute to human flourishing. We can therefore also judge between them. But can we judge for others? How much authenticity can any particular person take? How much inauthenticity is unavoidable and even necessary? We can only find out for ourselves by consciously walking our own daos.

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