THE LIBERATION OF THE WELL FROG X

Zhuangzi:  So tell me how you imagine the liberation of the well-frog.

Scott:  It’s simply a matter of a transformation of perspective. The well frog is full of himself and thinks the tiny world over which he rules is the very definition of vastness. And then . . .

Zz:  And why is that a problem? He’s happy there, right?

Scott:  He was happy; but then a sea turtle happens by the well and looks down. Seeing him, the well-frog brags about how great his world is, and invites him down. The turtle gives it a try, but he’s far too big to fit. So he instead tells the well-frog about the vastness of the ocean. “When the well-frog heard this, he was cast into uncontainable astonishment, shrinking into utter discouragement.” So . .

Zz:  So, the first thing I learn from this is that sages are a curse. The world is full of relatively happy well-frogs, but the so-called sages go around telling them that that’s not good enough—they need to be liberated! Thus, the world is now full of unhappy well-frogs that can’t enjoy being as they are, where they are, and yet still can’t realize the supposedly vaster perspective of the sages. What is really needed is the liberation of the sages!—a liberation that shuts their mouths and opens their hearts to the affirmability of every expression—however “narrow”.

Scott:  I wasn’t headed in that direction, but I see your point. True sages as like doctors—people come to them when they’re sick—doctors don’t go around making people sick so they can cure them. So, we can only suggest the liberation of the well-frog because he is already sick—utterly discouraged.

Zz:  Right. And though it is probably the case that everyone experiences something of this discouragement, some experience it more acutely than others. But since, as you say, no one needs to be saved, there’s no need to go around convincing people that they need to be liberated.

Scott:  Take it or leave it. It doesn’t matter all that much in any case.

Zz:  This is not a serious business. If the game of life has lost its fun, learn to play it in a different way. The point is to play and to have fun.

Scott:  And to get that is liberation. The real cause of the well-frog’s discouragement was not the arrival of the sea turtle, but his own seriousness about his fixed world-view and his dependence on that for his happiness. He didn’t realize that it was all imaginary—a dreamed-up importance—and so he took the game too seriously.

Zz:  Agreed. So tell me about his liberation.

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