Each thing reveals the One,
the One manifests as all things.
To live in this Realization
is to not worry about perfection or non-perfection.
Can we call the projects of Zen and philosophical Daoism self-improvement? What else can they be? Yet both tell us that the most fundamental attribute of that self-improvement is the realization that no improvement is necessary. To be liberated is to realize that no liberation is necessary. How could anything be simpler? Why then do we find it so difficult?
It always seems to come back to our “natural human inclination” to judge between right and wrong, good and bad, affirmable and unaffirmable, perfect and imperfect. My original intention in this series was to look at many verses of the Xin-Xin Ming but its message is so singular and simple that most any verse will do. It’s all about having an experience of the non-dual, and that equates to transcending this inclination to judge.
There is that side of Daoism that would seem to suggest that what is “natural” in us is precisely what we should nurture. We should spontaneously be what we are. But this too simplistic; human nature is problematical. Being a self, for all its benefits, is burdensome. When compared to Nature generally, self-consciousness appears to be an anomaly—and a cruel joke. We seem to be more a “freak” of Nature, than its greatest work—the tyrannosaurus rex of the mammalian age.
We try and imagine just the opposite, of course. We are the apex of evolution. We are the leading edge of a purposively evolving Universe. We are the Omega. It’s all about us. We are the indispensable third term in the Triune nature of Reality—Heaven, earth and humanity. My mind must be Mind. My self must be Self. I am must be I AM.
But Zen and Zhuangzian Daoism primarily focus on the problematical side of our human existence. The real difference between them, it seems to me, is that Zen (Buddhism) (and Hinduism) attempts a cosmological resolution to the problem of our existential dangle, whereas Zhuangzi’s dao is considerably less ambitious. No definitive and final resolution is imagined, especially in the here and now, beyond a sense that some resolution will unavoidably transpire. Zhuangzi is more a psychologist than a religionist.
But again, the solution for both is that no solution is necessary. It all works out in the end. All is an apparent mess, but all is ultimately well in this Great Mess. We are perfect in our imperfections.