Marblehead

Mair 18:4

Recommended Posts

When Master Chuang went to Ch'u, he saw an empty skull.  Though brittle, it still retained its shape.  Master Chuang tapped the skull with his riding crop and asked, "Did you end up like this because of greed for life and loss of reason?  Or was it because you were involved in some treasonous affair and had your head chopped off by an ax?  Or was it because you were involved in some unsavory conduct, shamefully disgracing your parents, wife, and children?  Or was it because you starved or froze?  Or was it simply because your time was up?"

When he had finished with his questions, Master Chuang picked up the skull and used it as a pillow when he went to sleep.  At midnight, the skull appeared to him in a dream and said, "Your manner of talking makes you sound like a sophist.  I perceive that what you mentioned are all the burdens of the living.  When you're dead, there's none of that.  Would you like to hear me tell you about death, sir?"

"Yes," said Master Chuang.

"When you're dead," said the skull, "there's no ruler above you and no subjects below you.  There are no affairs of the four seasons; instead, time passes leisurely as it does for heaven and earth.  Not even the joys of being a south-facing king can surpass those of death."

Not believing the skull, Master Chuang said, "If I were to have the Arbiter of Destiny restore life to your physical form, to give you back your flesh, bones, and skin, to return your parents, wife, children, and village acquaintances, would you like that?"

Frowning in deep consternation, the skull said, "How could I abandon 'the joys of a south-facing king' and return to the toils of mankind?"
 
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

A difficult one, because it seems to presuppose survival after death.

 

But it could also be meant to demonstrate how little we actually know for sure. One wouldn't think Chuang tzu to actually consider himself to be a butterfly, but in another story he does recognize that himself being a butterfly dreaming to be a human being cannot be absolutely ruled out either. The story of the scull might be another speculation meant to confront us with the boundaries of our knowledge.

 

There is also a reversal of values involved in his discussion with the ghost, and this fits in with Chuang tzu's ethical relativist position. The ghost talks like a Buddhist, except that there is no cycle of reincarnation involved.

Edited by wandelaar
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Marblehead said:
When Master Chuang went to Ch'u, he saw an empty skull.
...
Frowning in deep consternation, the skull said, "How could I abandon 'the joys of a south-facing king' and return to the toils of mankind?"
 

Ahhh :) the perpetual dichotomy of being in the world vs the non-dual (only) state. 

(Insert 15yrs worth of rambling on "Both, same time" here, lol)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

A difficult one, because it seems to presuppose survival after death.

what seem to be the problem?)

 

2 hours ago, Marblehead said:

Frowning in deep consternation, the skull said

this particular  skull could frown

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, Taoist Texts said:

what seem to be the problem?)

 

The problem is that there is also another more naturalistic conception of death in the Chuang tzu as reabsorption in the cycle of life and death where parts of the deceased are reused to constitute other living beings. 

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This translation presents the skull exhibiting its opinions in a dream of Chuang's.

 

As usual , the final lines may be taken in either vein , as rhetorical ,,

that the skull thinks its both logical and preferable to sit and do nothing-  as a dead skull. 

Or , as an admission ,that if there was a way to get living again ,the skull would choose fleshly life,, with its ups and downs, 

 ,,whether its logical to do that or not. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, wandelaar said:

A difficult one, because it seems to presuppose survival after death.

 

But it could also be meant to demonstrate how little we actually know for sure. One wouldn't think Chuang tzu to actually consider himself to be a butterfly, but in another story he does recognize that himself being a butterfly dreaming to be a human being cannot be absolutely ruled out either. The story of the scull might be another speculation meant to confront us with the boundaries of our knowledge.

 

There is also a reversal of values involved in his discussion with the ghost, and this fits in with Chuang tzu's ethical relativist position. The ghost talks like a Buddhist, except that there is no cycle of reincarnation involved.

Yeah, we never find out if Chuang Tzu believed in an existence after death.  He often questions the possibility.  But never presumes to know.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, rene said:

Ahhh :) the perpetual dichotomy of being in the world vs the non-dual (only) state. 

(Insert 15yrs worth of rambling on "Both, same time" here, lol)

Yeah, both same time.  Here we have on in the Manifest and the other (skull) in the mystery.  Seems the Mystery is the final resting place.  Why return to chaos?

 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No human ever wielded the power of the source and so wasn't the source and wasn't non-dual.
But they had arrived at a place without struggle with the source.
The world and what we are .... we make many assumptions about what we are or the world is and its duality ... but in fact we live in assumptions and don't really know the world or ourselves ... few bother to sit down and try to find out.   Few realise they don't know themselves.   They assume they know themselves.
Humans don't solve their problems because they don't try because they don't really think they have any problems.   They are content with whatever it is that is happening even if underneath it all, they are suffering.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I often speak of resting in the Valley of the Spirits.  Sure, that's mental state; I really don't go to a valley where there are spirits.

 

But my valley allows me to jump up any time I need to jump.

 

I have no special powers except one that allows me to say things that cause others a smile or a chuckle.  I had that opportunity today.  I was out taking care of business and there was a rather tall lady likely in her mid thirties doing some work on a Harley Hog and I asked her if it was hers and she said yes.  The lady was blond, boobs that she enjoyed showing, and just all around physically attractive.

 

We talked a little and I said I wasn't hitting on her, that I am too old for that stuff, but if I were thirty-five years younger I would be.  She smiled.

 

So I got to talk with the entire being instead of just the skull.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Marblehead said:

Yeah, both same time.  Here we have on in the Manifest and the other (skull) in the mystery.  Seems the Mystery is the final resting place.  Why return to chaos?

 

Too bad the skull didn't figure out 'both' while alive...coulda gone back & enjoyed it all again :)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just yesterday, I happened to read in an ancient Arabic book on magic about the method to sever a head from a body in order to ask it questions afterwards, using it as an oracle. (In excuse of the dudes who were doing such, let's bear in mind that people had no Internet available to them at the time.)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe there is some truth in that because it takes some time even for a severed head to actually die.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, wandelaar said:

Maybe there is some truth in that because it takes some time even for a severed head to actually die.

Chickens can live a very long time in that condition.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe the fewer brains someone/thing has the longer it will live on after it's head has been removed.  And then, there are some people who's only use for their head is to keep their ears apart.

 

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites