Mencius:  “Participating everywhere in the springtime of each being!” That’s what it is to experience “flood-like qi”.

Scott:  Really? I haven’t been able to figure out what you meant by that.

Zhuangzi:  No one can!

Mencius:  You should talk! But I should think that if one experiences qi as that which “fills the space between Heaven and earth” then it would be easy enough to see how that is also an experience of a oneness with all things and a participation in the joyful arising of all things.

Scott:  And you say you are “good at cultivating flood-like qi”—so, you have experienced that oneness. And you also said that after forty your “heart has not been stirred”—which I take to mean that nothing has “entered your Numinous Reservoir” to disturb your peace—the experience of Zhuangzi’s hypothetical sage. Zhuangzi made no such claims and won’t confirm or deny the realization of those experiences to me. That, by Zhuangzi’s definition, would make you a sage; and by implication, more a sage than he.

Mencius:  Well, yes. But I also make no claim to being a sage. “A sage is something that even Confucius did not claim to be.”

Zz:  But you believe that Confucius was a sage nonetheless, do you not?

Mencius:  I do. Do you not?

Zz:  I do not know. He talked the talk, and made claims very much like yours, but we all get carried away and imagine more of ourselves than we can rightly claim.

Scott: You do have to admit that there’s a lot of ambiguity in your statements—contradictions, frankly. You seem to think yourself a sage, but see sagacity as an unwillingness to make the claim.

Mencius:  Since Confucius did not claim to be a sage, then sagacity would indeed include not declaring oneself a sage.

Scott:  But then why do you claim that he was a sage? Surely, not because he made no such claim. I, too, can declare that I am no sage, but that does not make me a sage.

Mencius:  I know by his life and words.

Scott:  But what do we know of either, except what others said of him? And it’s easy enough to talk a talk while falling well short of the walk—as I am most personally aware.

Zz:  Please don’t take Scott’s objections personally. It’s just that he sees belief as a flight from reality and wishes to meet life with utmost honesty. But he too is sometimes a prevaricator, as are we all.

Mencius:  No offense taken. Neither your opinions nor Scott’s can change the fact that Confucius was a sage.

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