Monday, May 4, 2009

Simplicity, Stupidity, and Spirituality

I have to do a presentation on simplicity  to a group of middle-age professionals.  While it is an opportunity to share, it is also pretty difficult to speak of simplicity.  But here's a thought from Chuang Tzu that I find helpful.

"The sage leans on the sun and moon, tucks the universe under his arm, merges himself with things, leaves the confusion and muddle as it is, and looks on slaves as exalted.  Ordinary men strain and struggle, the sage is stupid and blockish.  He takes part in ten thousand ages and achieves simplicity in oneness" (translation by Burton Watson).  

Chuang Tzu seems to rely heavily on the view of nature as organic.  Nature lives, and moves, and drives, and orchestrates reality and hence within this existential understanding of that which is, one is able to lean on the sun and the moon.  Leaning on the sun and the moon also suggests the ability of its believers to take life as it comes because the sun is not always kind and the moon may not always shine.  It shrinks and reshapes itself and if life is to be lived, one may have to merge oneself with things and leave the confusion behind because if we try to understand that incomprehensible, we may not get anywhere.  The Way is not known.  Not only do we not know, we do not understand how the Way operates.  It does what it does.  

The way of the world places slaves in the lowest rank within societal hierarchy.  But the Way has rank life differently.  The slaves may be exalted because the Way does not interpret life within the categories that the norm decides.  The wisdom of the slaves may be that which we have to seek and understand in order to find us along the Way.  This goes along really well when Chuang Tzu speaks of the blockish and the stupid.  Who's stupid?  When stupidity is not even a category, one achieves simplicity in oneness.  

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