THE LIBERATION OF THE WELL FROG XI

Scott:  The River God is full of himself until he reaches the vast ocean and the bottom falls out of his self-esteem which depended on his circumscribed and comparative sense of his greatness. The Ocean God explains that the smallness of the river and the relative vastness of the ocean are, in fact, the same. They are the same in that relative to the vastness of the cosmos they are both small.

Zhuangzi:  Comparisons work on one level; and they are useful on that level. But comparisons also have a certain illogic to them. If anything can be said to be smaller than something else, then absolutely everything can be said to be small. Everything is smaller than something else. What then is the meaning of “small”? Getting through this is the threshold of Dao.

Scott:  So we can get a sense of a oneness here, and that sense is Dao. Dao is neither small nor vast—it is the equalization of things. But this means that we can’t really talk about it. It isn’t “Great”. It isn’t “the” Dao. It isn’t anything.

Zz:  It is the unknowableness (not the Unknowable—a thing) that contextualizes all things and all knowing, and in that Open-endedness is the oneness of things.

Scott:  But that oneness returns us to the affirmability of everything. And this returns us to the absolute affirmability of the well-frog and the tiny world in which he lives. His liberation is not the realization of some vaster thing—the ocean, the cosmos, or even a really vast Dao. It is the realization of the equality of all things, so he can once again be happy in his “smallness”. Whereas previously he lorded over all the tiny creatures in his well and created his sense of self-esteem from his imagined superiority to them, now he is able to identify with all things and participate in the joy of all things.

Zz: Dao, which is vastness beyond vastness—total Open-endedness,—is the end of all relative (comparative) value and the equal valuation of all things. So your liberated well-frog has taken his discouragement at realizing his smallness and used it to realize the unconditional value of his own life experience without comparative reference to any other life experience. I like it!

Scott:  Me too! Since I’m a well-frog!

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