You might think from this that Burton Watson or anybody reading Chuang Tzu could catapult right out of the ordinary into the "unconventional." Conventioneers would sit cross legged on the ground, legs askew at their death, hair reasonably white, long among the miniature green roses. Amid rows and rows they look as much like garden statues as flesh and blood. That was my parting with Henry Burlage. In a man's last days a stillness comes. This is no assault, an emptying as the wind blows. It should not be sought.
庄子 The Wind, The Wind! Free Yourself From the World!
Calmed then from the worry that his three universes had caused, this simpleton sat beside Zhuangzi. It was as necessary that universes spin out as gardening. That told the story. "Don't worry about the corn or sleep out in September to hear it breathe." Mr. Bein' Not Bein' man outside experience said, "anytime somebody sums it up they kill it." Burton Watson, good to say, says, "free yourself from the world" (Basic Writings, 3). Then he kills it. The greatest impediment to Zhuangzi is wu-wei. Kill the Buddha if you see him on the road, kill the zen koans, kill the interpreters of meaning. Only Jesus you cannot kill.
Poetry or drivel, Legge or Burton, whoever abstracts wu-wei flops it back on Chuang Chou and then judges his conformity to their abstract. Was Jesus Christ a Christian? You belong to this group when you say we-wei aplenty and the Sermon on the Mount. Get close as a seeker reading theology! 'Babstracted back, the original don't fit. Tolkien proved this done with the Beo(wulf). Monsters of porridge with elbow patches and paychecks know the dialects, but this is life.
I. We combat a moth, a Mr. Phang wing cloud! A flyin' mountain fish change bird "rouses itself," transports to the pool of heaven, meaning South Ocean. Look inside, it's a bird or a man or a plant. It's a yarrow tree with the breeze fields horse quiver in their beams. It's a tortoise! Molecules of dust crackle. The crocs that inhabit worlds come here when other species lose.
Cedar branches shot right up out of my hands when I learned that "the first two sections of Chuang Tzu constitute "one of the fiercest and most dazzling assaults." I couldn't sit at the front. At the back, in Vol. II, my friends were sitting, not just crocs, but tortoise and yarrow, skull and mugwort stump, sheep, cicada, singing goose, pastures, spring shells of luminous unembodied multi-form white Eldarica colts. Weigh that pig, its paunch and hoof. Hellebore, weasel, you know the kind, the jack of all trades has mastered the mind.
Mr. Big Phang figured Wind among first element suspects. Wind like water (I, 2) in the matter of their contention. Wind is greater than water! That argument, if it "be not great it will not support great wings," bore the blue sky on the back of Mr. Phang. Who flew south. Offended cicada and little dove thought it super how Phang flew. But didn't Phang have to pound grain at night for dinner? Like them?
There is a mature tree called Ming-ling. Of 500 or so. To it spring and fall are the same. This tree is like tortoise that lives longer than man. One old man, Takhun, lived 8000 years. Have grasshopper, cicada, little dove lived enough to see the fruition of the promises of God? Phang Bird, Ming-ling Tortoise, Man Phang Zu lived 700 years in vigor. It is out of this life Zhuangzi wrote. It comforts to know he thought it worth writing. Quail sees on Phang's mountain back those wings of cloud sky. At the difference of small and great, youth and age, Yung-tze of Sung laughs. He is of age. His universes [a universe is his own child] spin their desire. He thought, "though the whole world praised [he] would not have done more, and though all had condemned him would not have done less." Say what you will. He stopped the piety of the condemning quail.
The mature measure of Chuang Tzu is "still he had not planted himself firmly in the right position." What is the right position? Lieh-tze also rode the wind, but with indifference of the external, "but though he had to walk, still he had to wait." This walk wait stop go is the crux. Along the road where the fire is out.
Legge tickets Chaung Tzu for audacity in his "extravagant style," as if, in the old view of the Book, "Kwang-tze intended himself by the great phang" (I, 128). Conditioned by Whitman and Rambo we accept such fantastic, but the end of Book I smarts with talk of "a Spirit-like man whose flesh and skin were (smooth) as ice and (white) as snow" (171). Division of the small and great ends up with, what to do about the calabash. What use is it, or, what use is the Ailantus or Phang for that matter, so large and useless to quail, or for that matter, me? The good news in Section II is that a great wind that blows through these apertures.
You can read Part II, here
So what is the first element? Call up Anaxagoras, manipulate numbers. How does one become two? Zhuangzi actually says it. The first element is wind. Who says Sepher Yetzirah means Job's three friends?
Once there was a large geographical iant, a man of the south suburb who fell asleep on his stool. He lost consciousness, they say. Neither he nor we know what. "I just lost myself" (176). Even though all the western mystics know exactly what, he don't. Compared to slaked lime, what comes up?
The Great Wind
All that is manifest is likened to breath blowing through a bamboo flute, the notes of Man, Earth and Heaven. The great Wind blows through their "myriad apertures." Their promontory, the flute forest trees of earth, the caves, the Hopi blowhole are like the nose, mouth and ear. The sounds that issue from them all alike are caused by wind. So the world and its people are a bamboo flute and there are nine openings. To judge the sounds, mainly the rhetoric, requires separating small and great, young and old. The whole complex of interacts is a failing, "like music from an empty tube, or mushrooms from the warm moisture,[he doesn't like mushrooms] day and night succeed to one another and come before us, and we know not whence they sprout" (179). Mushroom is a word for dialectic that sprouts large and small, internals and externals.
"Given the body, with its hundred parts, its nine openings, and its six viscera, all complete in their places, which do I love the most?" (180). There are nine openings by the way, which extends to the whole of the academy, science, philosophy, argument, affirmation and negation of the predetermined mind. These are all described by the saying, "he went to Yueh today and arrived at it yesterday" (180). This is more of that AfterZen stuff, a "nobody will have heard of Buddha tomorrow" speech that comes from a mind not made up, chirp. And if it is made up it is predetermined pomp. Ya can't win. So why don't cha just stop!
Opposite views produce each other, Republican and Democrat (182). He wants to stand "in the center of the right (of thought) where he can respond without end to the changing views" of the affirming and denying (183). He resolves it with the joke. What is a horse? The universes of man will dispute. His sons will tell him what is a horse. It is different from what he said was a horse. They point that out, affirm and deny horsing around. That's it. "Separation led to completion, then ensued dissolution" (184). He says let us give up this devotion to our own views and adopt the "ordinary," meaning the simple use of things. Then stop (184). The ordinary is so arcane it can't be found among the immortals. Immortality, sageness, the superior man are all synomyms for idiot. We give everything to restore the commonplace world.
So whether there is nothing or something (185), the subject of all Greek thought, the biology of abortion and the cosmology of Stephen Hawking are all decay of thought, wind, music. Even though "the scintillations of light from the midst of confusion and perplexity are indeed valued by the sagely man" (187), stop. Begin thought with, since Heaven and Earth "are spoken of as one, must there not be room for speech? One and Speech are two; two and one are three" (188) Seper Yetzirah! Stop.
"Let us abjure such procedure and simply rest here" (188), he says. Otherwise "we have the saying, Disputation is a proof of not seeing clearly" (189). Too late for me to offer my dispute of his number of existence with no existence, that if one were to say there "was no existence before the beginning of that no existence" (187) that no existence would be one because it is named. Not being proves existence is! Which fact has brought it to be! QED! Stop. When you name or not name you bring to be! QED. Stop. It's like a telegram. How do you know but every bird that cuts the airy way: "when I say, I know it, I really (am showing that) I do not know it... and when I say I do not know am showing that I do" (191)? Stop.
Such argument resolves into an acquisition of Job's three friends of our speaker, or if you like, Socrates in the Agora. These result in leaving the real for dreams where "the stupid think they are awake" (195). Changeable beings, shadows, penumbras: "The penumbra asked the Shadow, saying, Formerly you were walking on, and now you have stopped...how is it that you are so without stability?" (196) Likewise the Butterfly Kau. "I, Kwang Kau dreamt I was a butterfly flying about. Suddenly I awoke and was myself again, the veritable Kau" (197). So which is which in the "Transformation of Things?"
I want to say of this metaphor that it is the ordinary realer than dream. In all animals, butterflies, cicadas, centipedes, elk, fish, bird--and likewise plants, mugwort, bamboo, ailanthus, yarrow--lies the only way the sounds the wind blows from the apertures are felt. This speaking, for otherwise all dissolves in affirming and denying. Whatever we are is a reflection of this in the mirror behind and in our portrait. Animal mirrors, plant mirrors speak the thing.
Third Century Stand Up
Chaung Tzu is that early humorist of China who did stand up in the third century.
When the almond tree blossoms and desire is no longer stirred.
This is in Goodreads.