UNDER HEAVEN LXVII

If you’re still with me after the extremes of the last post, let’s further explore how we can take the rejection of Huizi by the Tianxia as an occasion for enfolding him into a broader acceptance.

The point of the last post was that he is a human being just like us, and if we can take a somewhat more transcendent view of humanity generally, we can see a sense in which we are all the same and equal. This does not eliminate our differences, but only gives us a different perspective on their significance.

Practically speaking, this provides a new tool in our kit by which we might improve the human condition generally and that of some individuals in particular, including ourselves. Informed of our equal participation in one humanity, we understand that ultimately it is humanity itself that needs transforming, and that the individuals within it are representative of humanity as it is. This might influence how we approach the behaviors of individuals we deem harmful to our larger good. In sum, we would not demonize anyone, since to do so would be to demonize us all.

Consider taking a further step: Regard humanity for a moment as you would an ant hill—that’s an even more transcendent perspective. That can give you a sense of being more-than-just-human—part of something larger, something inexplicable. Now do your human thing informed of that experience—that’s an enlightened engagement.

Thus far we have considered how to achieve a oneness of behaviors, but the Tianxia’s rejection of Huizi is based more on doctrinal grounds—his dao was utterly false. It is curious how the author’s True Dao is represented as “all-embracing and non-partisan” and yet it fails to embrace Huizi. This is to be expected, of course; when there is Truth there must also be Falsehood. Truth cannot avoid partisanship.

Zhuangzi’s Dao is the confluence of all daos, and thus no dao can be excluded from it. Psychological Dao is thus this very act of uniting to form a oneness. The perpetual transformation of all things requires that the realization of this Dao itself be a continual process. Thus did Zhuangzi “respond to every transformation”.

“Thus, the Sage uses various rights and wrongs to harmonize with others and yet remains at rest in the middle of Heaven the Potter’s Wheel. This is called ‘Walking Two Roads’.” (2:24) The rights and wrongs, the various daos, though they are all wrong in their negation of each other can all be affirmed from within the perspective of Dao as confluence.

The larger context of this passage is Zhuangzi’s criticism of other daos that do negate each other. Is he thus also caught in a contradiction just as was the author of the Tianxia? Is he also partisan? Not if he understands his dao as just another dao, albeit one that advocates a perpetual process of enfolding into a oneness. This dao also flows into the confluence that is Dao.

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