Having become “one with the Transforming Openness”, Yan is “free of all constancy”. This is a delightful overturning of conventional value. Typically, to be constant is to be real. Transience is a lesser mode of being. (Essence precedes existence.)

To be constant is to be fixed; but to be fixed is to be incapable of wandering.

If we imagine reality as a Transforming Openness—an interpretive possibility which seems most consistent with our experience—then belief in anything fixed is delusory in any case. Since it is our psychological experience that most concerns Zhuangzi, it is the overturning of our sense of being a fixed-self that is at issue here.

This same Yan is he who discovered his core emptiness and thus realized that he “had yet to begin to exist”. He realized no-fixed-self—a self-experience in which one’s identity becomes merely a “temporary lodging”.

“Seeing all lodging places as one, let yourself be lodged in whichever cannot be avoided.” Or, “Making your real home in oneness, let yourself be temporarily lodged in whatever cannot be avoided.” (4:10; note 6)

The capacity to wander thus entails the loss of one’s “me”—a fixed somebody that fears the loss of its own self and cannot therefore escape the tyranny of “benefit and harm”.

Perhaps this is why Zhuangzi lit upon “wandering” as his chief metaphor for freedom. The wanderer has no other home than the world itself. She has hid her self in the world—“hid the world in the world where nothing can be lost.”

The sage makes the Transforming Openness her home and can freely wander everywhere within it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *