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.  


  1. I have been trying to find a theme in the readings for this class. I see a common thread of "perspective". Chuang Tzu speaks directly to the fact that everything has meaning, but its value or specific meaning depends on the place from which it is seen or the context which assess it for value. Mindfulness, seems also to be about a specific perspective which is the ability to be objective about subjective matter. If one moves from the perspective that self (or a part of self) is unchangable to the perspective of flexibility and freedom, health can be the outcome. Jung's thinking about perspective seems to speak to the commonalities of people and the differences of context (perspective?) that contribute to their belief systems ("belief" not limited to spiritual thinking).

  2. The theme that has also stood out to me in these readings encompasses the idea of perspective and the limitations that our context places on perspective. As I think about spirituality I am keenly aware of the context in which I seek to define the Divine. The value that I place on specific aspects of God, spirituality and religion are those that I value- thus, “truth” about who the essence of God is, is something that I will never be able to completely know or understand while on this earth. However this awareness is a part of my spiritual experience in itself, as the knowledge of my inability to fully understand God motivates me to continue exploring all that is available in knowing God here on earth. Kirstee Williams (Hurt)