If you wish to know the truth,

then hold to no opinions for or against anything.

To set up what you like against what you dislike

is the disease of the mind.

(Stanza 2)

The first sentence of this verse borders wonderfully on the paradoxical. To know the truth, just have no opinions about what is true. An inviting hole, empty of what seems so fundamentally human, opens up to the imagination. Falling in there would be so refreshing—taking a break from oneself and the world—that’s what it would amount to.

Is this true, or is it also just a matter of opinion? I take it as the latter; but that doesn’t preclude attempting the experience. That, of course, is where I am of a different opinion than the author. For him, empty is the way things really are; I have no idea.

But having no idea includes allowing that he may be right. How could I possibly know—especially in as much as I have not experienced anything like what he has ostensibly experienced? Arguing with him is equivalent to arguing with the Buddha—or any other true believer, for that matter. But we all do that, do we not? We’re surrounded by contemporary buddhas—gurus and true believers—all of whom are absolutely sure of the truth of their contradicting opinions. Must we choose to believe one? Or can we choose not to choose at all?

Ah, skepticism. It’s easy to see this as a “disease of the mind”—living in continual rejection. But it can also be just the opposite—living in open-mindedness. That’s the kind of skepticism that Zhuangzi attempts. And that seems to lead right back to having no opinions for against anything.

Can we really accomplish this? I have no idea. But we can certainly have fun trying. If our trying isn’t fun, however, then something’s amiss. We’ve taken it far too seriously. We’ve chosen to believe.

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