Zhuangzi (368-289) Historical background The Book of Zhuangzi
Historical background Chinese eremiticism Southern shamanism http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxgGWsjyjEI
The Book of Zhuangzi Ch. 1 – 7 (the “inner chapters”): can be dated to the 4 th century BCE Ch. 8 – 11: essays by an individual who was strongly influenced by the Laozi, a “Primitivist” from the “School of the Tillers,” can be dated to around 200 BCE Ch. 12-16, 33: independent essays by Han scholars called “Syncretists” Ch. 17-22: writings of later followers of Zhuangzi, early Han Ch. 23-27, 32: fragments, some dating to the “inner chapters” Ch. 28-31: materials from the “Individualists” school of Yang Zhu, around 200 BCE based on A.C. Graham
The "Seven Inner Chapters" 1. Xiao yao you Free and Easy Wandering 2. Qi wu lun The Sorting which Evens Things Out 3. Yang sheng zhu What Matters in the Nurture of Life 4. Ren jian shi The World of Human Affairs 5. De chong fu Signs of the Fullness of Power 6. Da zong shi The Teacher who is the Ultimate Ancestor 7. Ying di wang Responding to Emperors and Kings
Major Themes of the Zhuangzi Book 1. Style of the book 2. Uselessness 3. Transmutability 4. The Perfect One
1. Style of the Book of Zhuangzi mythic consciousness imagistic language to disengage logical, conceptual functions of the mind intuitive, aesthetic thinking anti-literalism, suspension of critical thinking
"A Statement" (Ch. 2) Now I am going to make a statement here. I don't know whether it fits into the category of other people's statements or not. But whether it fits into their category or whether it doesn't, it obviously fits into some category. So in that respect it is no different from their statements. However, let me try making my statement: "There is a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is being. There is nonbeing. There is a not yet beginning to be nonbeing. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be nonbeing. Suddenly there is being and nonbeing. But between this being and nonbeing, I don't really know which is being and which is nonbeing." Now I have just said something. But I don't know whether what I have said has really said something or whether it hasn't said something.
2. Uselessness a. the “usefulness of uselessness” b. relativism (the rejection of conventional knowledge) c. intuition
“I’ll drag my tail in the mud.” Anonymous, Eastern Han Dynasty Minneapolis Museum of Art a. the “usefulness of uselessness”
無 用 之 用 “Take it easy, and have a nap by its side. Axes will not shorten its life, nothing will ever harm it. It is because it has never been put to use that it has not suffered injury or harm. Most people would consider it unlucky, but it is these same qualities that the sage recognizes as very lucky indeed!” misfits cripples madmen hunchbacks gnarled trees giant gourds
b. relativity (the rejection of conventional knowledge) Model Tan Mang-lingpainting by Tang Yin (Ming Dynasty) deer (4 th c. Chinese)
The Taoist Sage “Godlike” qualities Unaffected by life and death Emotional equanimity “A mind like a mirror” “Sitting in forgetfulness” “The fasting of the mind”
Contrasts between Confucianism and Taoism Confucian Heaven ceremony action society male adulthood moral perfection "build" "establish" being education hierarchy named North knowledge the ancients Taoist Nature, Tao simplicity non-action individual female infancy & old age spiritual tranquilty "nourish" "return" non-being self-transformation unity nameless South intuition pre-history
Taoist responses to contemporary global issues violence arising from ethnic and political conflict urbanization and its attendant ills (from crime to unsightly cityscapes) ecological degradation and the worldwide decrease in forested or virgin land medical technologies which preserve life, but often at great material and spiritual cost greed and avariciousness, expressed both personally and nationally sexual ethics which are often distorted on the one hand by demeaning images and attitudes or, on the other hand, by religiously motivated prudishness lifestyles focused on personal achievement in highly artificial environments, with little opportunity for physical exercise, creative expression, or communion with nature
Queries In your opinion, is there value to living a life dedicated to “reversion,” “naturalness,” “weakness,” “yielding,” and simplicity? What do you think of people who are “drowsy, muddled, foolish, and uncouth”? Would you like to live in Lao-zi’s ideal state? Do you agree with the statement, “ One who knows does not speak. One who speaks does not know ” ? Do you think that Lao-zi and Zhuang-zi ’ s recommendations would lead to anarchy, selfishness, and a lack of social and economic progress... Or are you inclined, like the Taoists, to blame Confucian values (a strong sense of right and wrong, filial piety, conformity, conservatism, etc.) for global and personal misery?