Scott:  So de—the expression of Dao—is not found exclusively in the Heavenly as the author has it, but in the human informed by the Heavenly. Dao does not abrogate the human, and the human does not abrogate Dao, but they rather come together to form a paradoxical synthesis.

Zhuangzi:  “Paradoxical” because they can never really merge—if they did, there would be some fixed and final guidance—some new state of completion, and the end of ambiguity.

Scott:  But this de—the honest living of our ambiguity—seems to be valued above the self-deception of thinking we know. Getting it is better than not-getting it.

Zz:  There is the de that is attainable—psychological de—and the de which is not attainable because it is what everything already is—the expression of metaphysical Dao. Psychological de implies value because it is a human creation. But every human creation—whatever it is—is also de. Getting it and not-getting it are both just humans being human—they are the same as expressions of Dao. They are different in that the lead to different levels of enjoyment.

Scott:  At least theoretically.

Zz:  No, they are not “theoretically” different—they are different in that they lead to different experiential outcomes—what is theoretical is which dao works best for any one individual—something that only the individual can judge.

Scott:  So, because everything is de—an expression of Dao—nothing is or can be lost—no one needs to be saved. And thus, all daos are an expression of Dao and do not impact any ultimate outcome. All is well.

Zz:  I find it curious how this question of ultimate outcomes—being lost or saved—comes up for you. It’s pretty much foreign to my cultural context, but then with the arrival of Buddhism we Chinese also got a big dose of this kind of religious thinking. But at least Buddhism imagines a cosmos in which everything is “saved” in the end.

Scott:  In this regard, what do you think of my mantra: I am perfect by virtue of being perfectly as I am—just as I am?

Zz:  It’s spot on! And I can see how you take it as a “gate” into that wonderful experience of pan-affirmation. Isn’t it simply “going by the rightness of the present This” with respect to yourself? Indeed, if one cannot experience this self-affirmation, then one cannot realize the affirmation of all things.

Scott:  But if one does realize self-affirmation, the affirmation of all things necessarily follows. Our negation of the “other” has its roots in the negation of ourselves.

Zz:  Agreed. The celebration one’s own life is also a celebration of all life and all things—it’s “participating everywhere in the springtime of all beings”. What fun!

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