A DAOIST EXISTENTIALISM VIII

My basic orientation has been existentialist for most my life. But existentialism does not itself provide a path to any particular purposeful trajectory in terms of what kind of life one wants to live. It is open-ended in this regard. This is its strength as well as its weakness.

For whatever reason—and there are no doubt reasons beyond my immediate control—my natural tendency is toward negation and pessimism. This is why Zhuangzian Daoism has proven to be such a good fit in terms of directing me in a more positive direction. I have chosen this “imaginary solution” as a path into a greater enjoyment of life.

This Daoist existentialism is by no means “the” dao, but simply the one that works for me. It is a chosen philosophy of life, where a multitude of such philosophies are equally valid. The real question is not which dao is “best”, but which dao works best for you.

It seems clearly the case, that we are often stuck in a dao that does not in fact work best for us. We are typically born into a religion, certainly a culture, and just as certainly into a personal character. These bonds are not easy to break; nor should we expect that we will feel the need to do so, or could if we wished. It likely takes some kind of existential trauma for us to realize a genuine paradigm shift, a new dao, and that, unfortunately, will not necessarily be a more helpful dao. The loss of faith, for instance can be a gateway to freedom, or it can be a descent into cynicism and despair.

To my thinking, the attainment of some degree of existential freedom—free-thinking—is worth both the birth trauma and the subsequent adriftedness. It is not, however, something that we need prescribe for others—all things being equal in the vastest arrangement, in any case.

2 thoughts on “A DAOIST EXISTENTIALISM VIII”

  1. Scott, I have read and am now rereading All Is Well in the Great Mess and although I am a relative newcomer to the Taoist flow, I dare say that few shared perspectives have been as beneficial to mine own as yours. I am also continuing to find these newly discovered blogs equally fresh and personally rewarding. I also have added The Denial of Death to my reading list. Thank you.

    1. Hi Jim. Thanks for the input. I’ve been incommunicado for awhile, so I’m late in getting back to you. Sorry. Scott

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