Friday, June 12, 2009

When the Shoes Fit

For many years I struggled with internal conflicts.  Perhaps my melancholia has contributed to that constant sense of guilt and the quest for its resolution.  But often I was caught within the moral sense deep in my psyche and finding it difficult to get out, to look beyond, to transcend even meaningless guilts or conflicts.  Perhaps it is also from this very context that Chuang Tzu's nothingness becomes even more meaningful to me because through his paradoxical perspectives of life, I find a glimpse of freedom, a place and space for my soul's rest.  Here's one such an example.

"You forget your feet when the shoes are comfortable.  You forget your wait when the belt is comfortable.  Understanding forgets right and wrong when the mind is comfortable.  There is no change in what is inside, no following what is outside, when the adjustment to events is comfortable.  You begin with what is comfortable and never experience what is uncomfortable when you know the comfort of forgetting what is comfortable" (translated by Watson).  

I think often we start with what we ought to be or socialized to think how life is to be lived.  Perhaps it is better that we start from where we are.  What fits for us.  Starting from what fits lead us to do what is best without the constant nagging temptation toward right and wrong dichotomy.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Caught in the Web of Illusion: Chuang Tzu in Hotel California

The more I ponder Chuang Tzu's the more I realize the profound wisdom and such spiritual insights into life and ways of living.  To understand Chuang Tzu is to finally realize what freedom really means, what it is like to live a true authentic life.  It is also coming to a gradual recognition that it is very difficult indeed to realize how caught we are in the web of illusion that he talks about, to laugh along with his analogy of the metaphor "three in the morning" and the monkeys and see that we are these monkeys, the object of our laughter.  The web is so intricate, so intertwined, so complicated that it is hard to see and realize.  It is the matrix that we find difficult to see in ourselves, let alone to disengage.  I am reminded of the song "Hotel California" where, once you are in you can check out but can never leave.  Once you are there, you are caught in the power of materialism be it literal or spiritual.  The wording of the song is so appropriate:

"Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax,' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'"

When we have a slight insight into Chuang Tzu's we will finally see traces of the door created from human imagination that isn't really there.  There is no place to run to.  There is no need to leave because the beast we can never kill is the ghost of our own device.