COSMO-CENTRISM AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE II

In the context of Zhuangzian philosophy further clarification of the idea and experience of cosmo-centrism seems necessary in as much as it casts us into the middle of his disagreements with his friend, the Logician Huizi.

Huizi believed that he had logically (albeit, paradoxically) demonstrated the oneness of things: “Love all things without exception, for heaven and earth are one body.” (33; p 124) Zhuangzi took Huizi to task, not for this conclusion as is often averred, but because it went no further than intellectual assent. Zhuangzi suggested a mystical leap as the necessary next step. Huizi preferred to dwell solely in the world of intellection and for this reason called Zhuangzi’s philosophy “big and useless”.

When, after presenting some of his own paradoxes, Zhuangzi exclaims, “Heaven and earth are born together with me, and the ten thousand things and I are one” (2:32), he means it. (Many scholars take this as an ironic dig at Huizi, but I believe they are mistaken.) He means it, not in a literal (logically proven) sense, but in an experiential sense. He probably just experienced it.

Such an experience, at least as a temporary ecstatic moment, is not difficult to realize. All one needs to do is imaginatively engage with Zhuangzi’s own paradoxes and take the leap they invite: “Nothing in the world is larger than the tip of a hair in autumn, and Mt. Tai is small. No one lives longer than a dead child, and old Pengzu died young.” Alternatively, one can simply meditatively imagine the equalization of all things.

Though such a “buzz” is admittedly superficial, still it provides an inkling of the possibility of a deeper, more organic experience. Our cosmo-centrism, our identification with the Totality, will necessarily be and likely remain a work in progress. Our practical engagement vis-à-vis the environment will follow apace. Our continued flourishing as a species will likely depend on it.

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