TAKING ZHUANGZI TO THE LAUNDROMAT VIII

Shen Dao:  It sounds like Scott is ready to leave his “master” behind—and the rest of us as well.

Zhuangzi:  I certainly hope so. I was never anything but his imagined “master” in any case—everything he thinks he knows of my philosophy is as much his as it is mine—oftentimes more his than mine.

Scott:  That’s why to my thinking you are a true “master”—you never really prescribe, and you cloud everything in such ambiguity that one would be a fool to think he actually knows what you are saying for sure. And as for Shen Dao—I don’t know if it’s just because your writings have all been lost except in quoted fragments, or if you actually prescribed a dao, but whether by intention or historical accident your philosophy is as equally ambiguous.

Shen Dao:  I won’t attempt to clarify that, but in retrospect, though it is sobering to have most all one’s life-work “lost”, it might have turned out for the best. But in any event, it’s not like I’ve had any significant role to play in the development of your own philosophy.

Scott:  I beg to differ. I have found the representation of your philosophy in the Tianxia most inspiring and thought provoking. In fact, I think it is one of the clearest articulations of Daoist sagacity to be found anywhere. That it might not even be an accurate description of your philosophy at all, and that you most certainly didn’t embody it as the author seems to think you did, makes it all the more valuable.

Shen Dao:  Its possible untruthfulness makes it more valuable than truthfulness!  I love it!  And I like how it diminishes my “me”. My gift to posterity is more an empty something than a positive something. Where’s my “me” in that? I admit that if I were still alive that might not have pleased me at all, but as one dead, it harmonizes perfectly with . . . I see Zhuang is giving me the evil eye, so I shan’t finish the thought.

Scott:  Death must remain a gateway into utter mystery—though I get your drift. And though the loss of one’s “me” in death seems most likely, we cannot know for sure. As for the value of possible untruthfulness, if the author of the Tianxia got it right when he lumps you with Peng Meng and Tian Pian, then you too taught “the eschewal of all positive teachings”. And that, for me, has got to be one of the most profound and beautiful teachings of all time.

Shen Dao:  I can’t clarify that relationship; but I agree that there is awesome power in that teaching. And it is precisely what historical accident—at least—has done with my teachings—drained all the definitively positive right out of them.

Zz:  “The eschewal of all positive teachings”—if one follows the implications of that all the way through to the open-ended end, well then, nothing more is required other than to decide on an appropriate response.

Scott:  And for us, that’s to let go into Mystery so as to wander, roam and romp through life.

Zz:  Or to at least make the attempt.

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