Wu-Wei

Posted by on September 5, 2016 10:23 am
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Knowing others is wisdom;Knowing the self is enlightenment.Mastering others requires force;Mastering the self requires strength;He who knows he has enough is rich.Perseverance is a sign of will power.He who stays where he is endures.To die but not to perish is to be eternally present.

We put thirty spokes together and call it a wheel;But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the wheel depends.We turn clay to make a vessel;But it is on the space where there is nothing that the usefulness of the vessel depends.We pierce doors and windows to make a house;And it is on these spaces where there is nothing that the usefulness of the house depends.Therefore just as we take advantage of what is, we should recognize the usefulness of what is not.

 

 Alan Watts on Wu-Wei:

Alan Watts, in this audio excerpt, nicely captures the distinction between Mindfulness (as personified by Confucius) and Mindfulnessless (as personified by Laozi).

 

 

Zhuangzi

 

 

The stories and anecdotes of the Zhuangzi embody a highly unique set of principles and attitudes, including living one’s life with natural spontaneity, uniting one’s inner self with the cosmic “Way” (Dao), keeping oneself distant from politics and social obligations, accepting death as a natural transformation, showing appreciation and praise for things others view as useless or aimless, and stridently rejecting social values and conventional reasoning. These principles form the core ideas of philosophical Daoism

 

 

 

 

 

 The emperor of the Southern Seas was Lickety, the emperor of the Northern Sea was Split, and the emperor of the Center was Wonton. Lickety and Split often met each other in the land of Wonton, and Wonton treated them very well. Wanting to repay Wonton’s kindness, Lickety and Split said, “All people have seven holes for seeing, hearing, eating, and breathing. Wonton alone lacks them. Let’s try boring some holes for him.”

So every day they bored one hole [in him], and on the seventh day Wonton died.

 

Zhuangzi-Butterfly-Dream

 

Unlike other ancient Chinese works, whose allegories were usually based on historical legends and proverbs, most Zhuangzi stories seem to have been invented by Zhuangzi himself. Some are completely whimsical, such as the strange description of evolution from “misty spray” through a series of substances and insects to horses and humans, while a few of the passages seem to be “sheer playful nonsense”.

 

 

 

 

    Cook Ding was cutting up an ox for Lord Wenhui. At every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee — zip, zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the Dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Jingshou Music.

“Ah, this is marvelous!” said Lord Wenhui. “Imagine skill reaching such heights!”            Cook Ding laid down his knife and replied, “What I care about is the Way [Dao], which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox. And now, now I go at it by spirit and don’t look with my eyes. Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and follow things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint.”

“A good cook changes his knife once a year — because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month — because he hacks. I’ve had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I’ve cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as though it had just come from the grindstone. There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness. If you insert what has no thickness into such spaces, then there’s plenty of room — more than enough for the blade to play about it. That’s why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone.”

“However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I’m doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety, until — flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground. I stand there holding the knife and look all around me, completely satisfied and reluctant to move on, and then I wipe off the knife and put it away.”

“Excellent!” said Lord Wenhui. “I have heard the words of Cook Ding and learned how to nurture life!”

 

To be moved

Daniel Dennett on Free Will:

 

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