UNDER HEAVEN LXXVII

We have reached the end of the Tianxia. I will conclude then with one simple observation: The philosophy presented here is not compatible with the philosophy of Zhuangzi. So many of the words and sentiments seem “right”, but the fundamental underlying assumption is entirely antithetical to Zhuangzi.

The Tianxia believes in a fixed and true articulable Dao. Zhuangzi does not. The Tianxia is essentially religious. Zhuangzi is purposely non-religious. The Tianxia expresses the religious Daoism of Huang-Lao.

For Zhuangzi, it is our not-knowing and not-believing that invites a mystical movement, an unmediated release into the life-experience itself and into the Unknowable that that experience implies and experiences as an absence. This is a movement of trust, not of belief. Belief precludes this movement. (Though it can have a mystical movement of its own.)

If these two philosophies are antithetical, can we not then “unite them to form a oneness”? Of course. This is precisely what Zhuangzi would have us do. What is that oneness? It is the realization of the equalization of all theories about things. It’s all good; it’s all acceptable. But then this is an application of the philosophy of Zhuangzi. The rascal always seems to come out on top—even as he merges his dao with all others. This is the Dao of philosophical Daoism.

The formation of a oneness does not eliminate the differences between things or our theories about them. Zhuangzi’s dao of non-belief remains antithetical to Huang-Lao belief. As such, it has its own trajectory into a mystical response to our human experience. Huang-Lao has its own. And if someone can believe, there is no good reason why they shouldn’t dive right into Huang-Lao or whatever belief-system meets their fancy. Or one can pretend they follow no dao at all.

As for me, having found my own attempt at belief to be an experiential dead-end, I like to play with Zhuangzi.

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