Sign in to follow this  
Yueya

Mair 2:5

Recommended Posts

Speech is not merely the blowing of air. Speech is intended to say something, but what is spoken may not necessarily be valid. If it is not valid, has anything actually been spoken? Or has speech

never actually occurred? We may consider speech to be distinct from the chirps of hatchlings, but is there really any difference between them?

 

How has the Way become so obscured that there are true and false? How has speech become so obscured that there are right and wrong? Could it be that the Way has gone off and is no longer present? Could it be that speech is present but has lost its ability to validate? The Way is obscured by partial achievements; speech is obscured by eloquent verbiage. Thus there are controversies between Confucians and Mohists over what's right and what's wrong. They invariably affirm what their opponents deny and deny what their opponents affirm. If one wishes to affirm what others deny and deny what others affirm, nothing is better than lucidity.

 

Everything is "that" in relation to other things and "this" in relation to itself. We may not be able to see things from the standpoint of "that," but we can understand them from the standpoint of "this." Therefore, it may be said that "that" derives from "this" and that "this " is dependent upon "that." Such is the notion of the cogenesis of "this" and "that. " Nonetheless, from the moment of birth death begins simultaneously, and from the moment of death birth begins simultaneously. Every affirmation is a denial of something else, and every denial is an affirmation of something else.

 

"This" and "that" are mutually dependent; right and wrong are also mutually dependent. For this reason, the sage does not subscribe to [the view of absolute opposites] but sees things in the light of nature, accepting "this " for what it is. "This" is also "that"; "that" is also "this." "This" implies a concept of right and wrong; "that " also implies a concept of right and wrong. But is there really a " this" and a "that “? Or is there really no "this" and no "that"? Where "this" and "that" cease to be opposites, there lies the pivot of the Way. Only when the pivot is located in the center of the circle of things can we respond to their infinite transformations. The transformations of " right" are infinite and so are the transformations of "wrong." Therefore, it is said that nothing is better for responding to them than lucidity.

 

Notes:

Confucians and Mohists - Two schools of philosophy from the Waning States period when Chuang Tzu lived. These are meant to stand for the whole gamut of contesting schools at that time.

 

nature -  The word for "nature" in Chinese, in the sense of the natural world, is derived from that for "sky" or "heaven" (t'ien). Thus we could also say that the sage sees things in the light of heaven. In this translation "nature" is also sometimes used for the Chinese word hsing, meaning the character, personality, or disposition of an individual.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is a good section.  A number of concepts within.  And yes, sometimes I just chirp and other times I actually say something.

 

Something I was expecting to see in the notes and haven't so far is Mair speaking to how Chuang Tzu presented his concepts with his literary style.

 

This section is important too in that it is a great example of how Chuang Tzu presents his questions but rarely gives a definitive answer.  He leaves space for the reader to do their own thinking and find their own answers,

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

what's this 'lucidity' he talks about?

Watson used the word "clarity" rather than "lucidity".  Just a difference in the choice of word usage.  The point being that we should use the proper words to convey our thoughts so that they cannot be misunderstood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some commentary on sections 2:1 to 2:5 from Scott Bradley …..

 

BACK TO THE FOREST

 

In making his case for his proposed response to our existential dangle, Zhuangzi returns to the metaphor of the forest trees. If we had any doubt as to the relevance of the trees’ piping (earth’s piping) to our own, he here makes clear that all our activities, whether practical or emotive, inexplicably arise without any identifiable reason, as if out of a void, just as we more easily see with the trees. But this is offered as the cause of our sense of being tenuous, not as its remedy. The remedy follows in how we respond to this reality, and that requires returning to an appreciation of the equality of all things and theories. Take, for example, the chirping of baby birds. Do we believe that all our reasoned debate and profound theories about the world are different from the chirping of birds? They are; and we do. But are we also able to see how they are the same? If we have truly and deeply imagined this, we will have broken through the shell of our burdensome sense of exceptionalism; we will have realized ourselves as momentary expressions of the great unfolding. Suddenly, everything is relativized. All those things to which we cling as to “eternal truths”, all our vexation about right and wrong, all our excessive seriousness—all these fall away, and with them, our sense of being a fixed-self. We are freed to wander in the harmony of every expression.

 

If the equalizing of human speech with the chirping of baby birds does not work for you, I would offer New York City. How does that city differ from a hive of bees? Or, more to the point, in what way is it the same? We needn’t abandon what we take to be special about human material culture to realize that sense in which it is the same as and the absolutely equal to a hive of bees or a hill of ants; yet if we can manage it, our perspective on the human enterprise will be forever changed. The insular shell of our species-specific egoism and jingoism will be shattered. Suddenly the unnameable, mysterious Whole replaces our egoism with a vast openness. I say openness, because in mystery there is nothing upon which the mind can fix.

 

Part of the power of such imaginative exercises resides in the difficulties we discover in their attempt. They bring to the fore our innate prejudices. We can retain these if we feel we must, but at least we have had the opportunity to see them and in that to have come to know ourselves better. This, too, can be wandered in.

 

The “contending voices” of the trees are representative of the debates of the philosophers, here the two leading contenders of Zhuangzi’s time, the Confucians and the Mohists. As they negate each other with their various theories about how best to live, we too wish to join the fray and side with one or the other or to negate them both. But what happened to the view from Dao, asks Zhuangzi, that we would judge one dao right and another wrong? Would we similarly judge between the chirpings of various birds or the sounds made by the trees in response to the wind? Isn’t it the case that whatever we do is a dao, and that every dao is equally an expression of Dao? Return if we must to discriminating between them, but first let us realize the openness that obtains in seeing their sameness. Then, perhaps, we can wander unfettered and carefree among them.

 

(From Scott Bradley,  All is well in the Great Mess)

Edited by Yueya

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Watson used the word "clarity" rather than "lucidity".  Just a difference in the choice of word usage.  The point being that we should use the proper words to convey our thoughts so that they cannot be misunderstood.

Thats very much in the ballpark Marbles. Indeed this excerpt is about misunderstanding in communication. Ironically the gist of it was lost in translation.

 

What these befuddled academics mistranslated as lucidity or the light of the mind or clarity  is a technical term 'to illustrate'. Not realizing that they produced a lot of chirping in print.

 

The last sentence sums up ZZ's message.

 

欲是其所非而非其所是,則莫若以明。

A truth is defined by a falsity, and a falsity is defined by a truth, there is no other way to illustrate those.

Edited by Taoist Texts
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The last sentence sums up ZZ's message.

 

欲是其所非而非其所是,則莫若以明。

A truth is defined by a falsity, and a falsity is defined by a truth, there is no other way to illustrate those.

And that is such a heavy concept (and reality).  Chuang Tzu never had a problem talking about dualities in the manifest universe. 

 

And this thought bleeds into the concept of the objective universe.  There really are differences between hot and cold and all the variations between the two.

 

But Chuang Tzu always reverts back to the idea that it is best to not have a fixed opinion due to the relativity of things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this