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Rivera, Rommel G. M.A. Philosophy (student) Taoist Philosophy Professor Dr. Alfredo P. Co Title: Neither Heaven nor Human Beings: Method, Humor and Trivialization in Daoism


Daoism seems to appear as a critic of the Confucian Rujia School, as what is evident in the discussion of the Book of Zhuangzi. But with the suggested term of Mr. Carlos Luz; giving a more academic and precise configuration as to how students and scholars should look at he relation of Daoist and Confucian School. According to the Sinologist and Daoist scholar Livia Kohn; “Confucianism has provided the social conscience not only of China but also of Daoism. Its five virtues (benevolence, righteousness, wisdom, propriety, and honesty) are the leading light of Chinese ethics and form an important goal of Daoist cultivation.”1 If this is so, why do the Daoist sages, namely the infamous Daoist immortal and reactor of Dao De Jing together with the writers of the Outer and Miscellaneous Chapter attributed to Zhuang Zi lampooned Kong Zi? This can be traced perhaps in the Dao De Jing Chapter 19 : Get rid of the wise men
Kohn, Livia. Introducing Daoism. (London&New York: Routledge Taylor and Francis group, 2009), p.11 Kohn continues: Its emphasis on Family values and loyalty to the ruler, its political vision of harmony and Great Peace have continued to inspire Daoists – who were not as, commonly thought, apolitical and detached, but who developed a complex political philosophy and took an active interest in running the government at various times in history.


Put out the professors Then people will profit A hundredfold over. This may be the start of the springboard of the issue or the course of the lampooning moment of the Ru Jia school of Kong Zi, but I am not saying that the professors here refers to the Ru Jia teachers, but what is implied here is that they are not spared from the said statement.

Understanding the Issue: There is a need for us to understand the conflict between the two Chinese schools of thought. This predicament can be traced back in the Book of Zhuang Zi in the Inner chapter : “The Great and Venerable Teacher. “He who knows what is that of Heaven does, and knows what man does, has reached the peak.”2 In this statement Zhuang Zi, (as what the strict scholars said according to Dr. Alfredo Co that only the Inner Chapter is the work of Zhuang Zi) made a statement of discrimination differentiating that of Man and of Heaven. For Daoism, originating from Zhou put their dominant faith in Heaven, Heaven was process, an abstract representation of the cycles and patterns of nature, a nonhuman force that interact closely with the human world in a nonpersonal way.3 This pertains to an Ethico-Moral understanding of Daoism. Hence, we raise the primary question: Why is there seem to be a conflict between Heaven and Man as presented in Zhuang Zi, and from that another questions may be raised since this is already articulated by past scholars it is better to ask: What are the common findings of

Burton Watson (trans.) The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu.(New York: Columbia University press, 1968) Kohn, Livia. Introducing Daoism. (New York and London: Routledge, 2009) p.4

p. 77



the scholars and the not yet said, in their examination of Daoism namely of the Zhuang Zi? And the last How can one emancipate from such strife? This paper will reexamine the Book of Zhuang Zi as a review of Professor Kim – chong Chong examined the Book of Zhuang Zi for his intention to show the concept of Zhen4 in the book of Zhuang Zi.

The interplay of Heaven and Man

Professor Chong established that the term zhen in Zhuang Zi is always linked to Zhen Ren or the True Person.5 But for some scholars, they contend that the mystical essence of Zhen will be missed out if ever it is claimed to be metaphorical.6 Zhuang Zi expressed that the True Person as mentioned above and the Human (action) do overcome one another.7 But where exactly can we trace the conflict of Humans and Heaven? If after all it is already claimed that the True Person manifest a harmony between Heaven and Human action. Kohn pointed out that in the History of Chinese Thought the Confucians always refer to the Golden Age of the Past, unlike that of the Daoist who find people naturally good and suggest perfect alignment with natural spontaneity,8 But for the Confucians

Zhen has several application throughout the text. It is used to affirm that something is truly the case, that someone is truly good, that this individual has no longing for wealth, power and honor and etc., it could also be taken as reference to true knowledge, and the true person ; there is this reference to the true master or true lord, it is also referred to describe the true nature of things, in general and the same way that of human beings in particular, and with this regard it could be drawn as a connection with other Daoist terms such as tian or heaven, nature and natural. Kim-chong Chong. The Concept of Zhen in the Zhuangzi, (Philosophy East and west vol. 61 number 2 April 2011) pp. 324; Kim-chong Cho agrees with Dr. Hans Georg Moeller, when it said that zhen ren is the trueman. , because it is always associated with Zhen) Hans Georg. Daoism Explained: From the dream of the butterfly to the fishnet allegory 5 Kim-chong-Chong. The Concept of Zhen in the Zhuang Zi.(Philosophy east and West Volume 61. Number 2 April 2011) pp. 324-346. Kim-chong Chong said zhen also refers to the refers to the natural state of things and what it is natural to do. 6 Ibid.32 7 Ibid. 325 8 Kohn, Livia. Introducing Daoism. P. 12


people can be good or evil, and for them education is responsible for the rehabilitation of the individual. Co, cited the Lun Yu “There are four things that Kong Zi was determined to eradicate: “A biased mind, arbitrary judgments, obstinacy, and egotism.”9 Because of the inclination of the Confucian school of thought to Learning and Education, to filial piety and rectification of names, absolutely they have established a conventional knowledge of things.

Kohn asserts that Without denying the value of all encompassing nature, of cosmological alignment with Heaven, of laws, and of ancestral advice, Confucianism focuses on ritual formality (li) as its key method of bringing the world back to the Golden Age.”10 Co, describe the ideogram of Li as two component, which comprises of the pictograph that literally means worshipping and worshipping ceremoniously before an urn.11 This therefore just insists a system for the individuals in the society to follow in order to have a harmonious existence among them. Kohn, distinguished these relations: interpersonal politeness, governmental organization and religious devotion. Indeed, the Ru Jia or the Confucian school of thought has proposed a sort of resolution to the problem of society; that they even try to edify since we know that Kong Zi travelled from one province to another for a possible Prince to be his audience. Francisca Cho quoted Ronald Green in its accusation against both Confucian ethics; “When Politics us the focus, the welfare of individuals can often be ignored in the belief that a political life will serve to eliminate the most frequent or more

Co, Alfredo P. The Blooming of a hundred Flowers: The Philosophy of Ancient China. (Manila: University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2002)p.115 10 Op.cit. p.12 11 Op.cit. 110



grievous cases of individual suffering.”(1988,56)12 This paper will now proceed with the examination of the Zhuang Zi text.

The Book of Zhuang Zi A. The Great and Venerable Teacher
This chapter presents the discrimination between Heaven and that of the Human acts. But we can find here the Daoist position that there is a Sage, that there is a True Person and True Master, together with it is the True Knowledge. Zhuang Zi claims here that in the True Person Heaven and Human action does not overcome each other. This pushes for a frontier that there exists in True Person the maintenance of a balance between human beings and nature.13 According to Chong, Heaven, is synonymous to nature or the natural world and its regular phenomena. Here death is treated part of the cycle of nature, “The True Man of ancient times knew nothing of loving life, knew nothing of hating death.”14 This may sound like as if the person is somewhat not affected, but it will be a hasty generalization if we resort to that kind of thinking. It also contradicts the search of Daoist religion for longevity or immortality. But according to another Daoist scholar Hans Georg Moeller, “Unlike Daoist practice, philosophical Daoism was not so much concerned with physical longevity as with proposing a conception of life and death that would rid one of the fear of mortality. Thus, Daoist practice and Daoist philosophy held seemingly

Cho, Francisca. Leaping into the Boundless: A Daoist Reading of Comparative Ethics(Journal of Reliious Ethics, )p.140 13 Kim-chong Cho. The concept of Zhen in the Zhuang Zi.(Philosophy East and West April 2011) p. 325 14 Watson, Burton (trans.) The Complete works of Chuang Tzu p. 78



contradictory attitudes towards the human body and death.15 Because of this statement; some people had a misinterpretation of the Daoism, Ronald Green perceives both Daoism and Confucianism as incapable of motivating sustained commitment to larger moral purposes and goals.16 Because this question was not addressed, the impartiality of what Green wants that religious reason should be the means to personal happiness is not met. But obviously, this is missing the point. There is a need for a thorough examination of the doctrine of Daoism with regards to their concepts of Death and of suffering. This is indeed the expression of human condition as limited, but that limitation expresses a more profound meaning to life which is the concept of detachment and of a letting go. Chong said it well as he discussed the concept of ming or what is destined. “Life and death are a matter of what is destined, they have the constancy of night and day, and this is a matter of Heaven. There are things that humans can do nothing about and this is a fact of all things.”17 This is a thanatological view of Death, as part of nature and to accept death whole heartedly. Bur for Zhuang Zi, if the individual only knows how to live life, things will be right. “But the human form has ten thousand changes that never come to an end. Your joys, then, must be uncountable. Therefore, the sage wanders in the realm where things cannot get away from him, and all
Moeller, Hans Georg. Daoism explained: From the Dream of Butterfly to the Fishnet Allegory.(Chicago lasalle: Open Court, 2006). p. 16 Cho, Francisca. Leaping the Boundless: A daoist Reading of Comparative Religious Ethics (Journal of Religious Ethics), 140 For Green If a tradition speaks inadequately to the question of Moral retribution and Justice at a personal level, then it cannot satisfy the other function of religious reason-that of explaining why one ought to persist in moral behavious.p.141 17 From Chen, p. 188. Kim-chong Chong. The Concept of Zhen in the Zhuang Zi. (Philosophy east and West vol. number 61, Number 2 April 2011 324-346) In the translation of Burton Watson in the Complete works of Chuang Tzup. 80 Life and Death are fated – constant as the succession of Dar and dawn, a matter of Heaven. There are some things which man can do nothing about all are a matter of nature and creature.


are preserved. He delights in early death; he delights in old age; he delights in the beginning; he delights in the end.”18 This is what we call an everyday carpe diem, minute every second he savors it and enjoys it, because every moment is a new encounter a new change to be welcomed.

Another theme of Zhuang Zi in the chapter six, is the funeral rites. Since the Confucians are engaging themselves too much in (li) which means worshipping or worshipping ceremoniously an urn, an urn is where you place the ashes of the dead. The Confucian are also inclined in giving a good funeral service rite, one story is that of Ah, Sang wherein his friends were singing an hitting the drum, when Tzu kung went in the funeral to observe the rites. Tzu kung was disappointed with them. Chong said, in order for the Dao not to be diminished with the heart mind, suggests not to be perturbed with death; and not helping the heaven with the human could mean either imposing a man made distinction onto the process or not interfering in some way with the natural process.”


also interprets that: the passage seems to be saying, too, that whether we like it or not, human beings are at one with nature. Primarily Zhuang Zi questions here the sincerity and a haven for hypocrisy.

18 19

Watson, Burton. The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu. P. 81 Op.cit. 326.


In Robber Chih

Chong made mention of the pictograph huo connotes a cognitive dimension that is a source of corruption that has destroyed the simple and authentic state .20 Chong made mention that in order for the State of Zhen to be achieved there is a need, the concentration should not be limited to the achievement of original human nature but also with the denial of the values of work and that freeing from the clutches of corrupting nature of the system of rites.21 Rites are seen here as haven of corruption. It is obvious that Rites can be pretentious. It does not mean that if ever the ritual was grandiose it is done sincerely, it can also be a cover up for the mistake or fault done. We may likened it to the statue given to the prophets by the high priests of Israel that is why Christ was anxious about it. The state of the in born nature must be like the uncarved virgin jade. “The Jade originating from the mountain is spoiled by being crafted”22 When we are born we are reared as to what the society wants us to be. Because of this, there is an entanglement among individuals, that they are no longer free. They have no choice but to follow or do what is expected of them. The rituals and customs are not done because primarily of the reason and acceptance of the individual but, because it is a must. Here lies, a perspective wherein, there are doubts, as to the sincerity of doing the rituals. Now we have to understand, that these things are not really necessary. The best way probably is to let go of things. These rituals may be a
Ibid. 329 81 In the Dao Zhi or Robber Chi chapter this is where Zhuangzi articulated and pointed out he possibility of a corrupted practice of the rites as it is expressed in the phrase huo qi zhen – translated by Kimchong Chong from the concept of Zhen in the Zhuangzi philosophy east and west p. 329 vol. 61 number 2
21 22 20

Ibid. Ibid.


transient or if not a refuge for those people who are – hypocrites, those who are allowing themselves to be brought by the tides or even those who are not decided or has the difficulty to decide, those who cannot decide as to the real relevance of the law or of customs, but to find safety and conformity with the society since their acts are acceptable which could lead to an apathy to others hence, damaging his true nature to be good. In the Old Fisherman, the stranger said, to Kong Zi that he is indeed benevolent as to benevolence so to speak, but he is indeed going against his inborn nature.23 He is humane and good, because he is reared to be like that in accordance to the benevolence viewed by society, but to what extent. Phenomena is not constraint in just mere concepts but it appears multifariously.

What is then The not yet said about Zhuang Zi and Daoism? Zhuang Zi according to Dr. Co, is the finest humorist24 But it seems that the scholars, going back to 2001, has given much articulation about the humor of Zhuang Zi, except for Hans Georg Moeller, which he identifies the method of humor as irony, which of course gives a negative impression through the title and could misunderstood Zhuang Zi. They perceive the story perhaps as a criticism, but unlike us now we take it as lampooning. This will reexamine the work of Zhuang Zi and to locate the humor of Zhuang Zi, and review other scholars writing in understanding the method used by Zhuang Zi such as that of Steven Burik, Sandra Wawrytko, and Hans Georg Moeller, to explain his thought and to locate humor among his works.
23 24

Watson, Burton The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu p. 345 Co, Alfredo. The Blooming of a Hundred Flowers. P. 279


The Scholars interpretation of the Method used by Daoism and Zhuang Zi Daoism has is a philosophy that concerns with these human mundane affairs, it deals with how we should understand the world. Daoism is concerned with the interrelatedness of all things, and thus also of humans, with these things.25 It shows that humans indeed are part of the whole process of Dao, and the opposites are given of equal importance, no one neither negates nor achieves a higher importance to one another. Burik contended that: “humankind should not focus on just one side of the process as is usually done in the traditional metaphysical approach.”26 With this state, Burik describe the how the Humans accept these phenomena, that it has to stand in awe of and in deference to this process and naturally seek some harmony or way to of dealing with the character of process in the world.27 In Daoism, for us to keep experiencing new ways, there is a constant cautious to the dogmatic fixations that would shun us away to the way of the future, and always be firm to have a conviction to stay at the threshold of possibility.28 The best example to this may be found in the Lao Zi, when the gatekeeper, The Daoist gatekeeper wanted to know how to stay to his post, the gate, in this world, from where he could respond to the diverse challenges that would inevitably come to him, yet without turning this into a fixed dogmatic position.29 Dogmatism, is indeed one of Daoism’s subjects to be critiqued. For many generations starting from Lao Zi, Daoism has not failed Dogmatic

Burik, Steven. Thinking on the Edge: Heidegger, Derrida and the Daoist Gate Way (Men). (Philosophy East and West Volume 60, Number 4 October 2010 University of Hawaii Press) 499-516. 26 Ibid. 27 Ibid. The daoist is knowledgeable that, this process; that this shifting state of balance is equally inevitable to the destined that there is always an upset in temporary favor of one or the other of the extremes. 28 Ibid. 29 Ibid. 501


characteristics of ethics and teachings that is being institutionalized in the society. The Daoist sage, in another metaphor, keeps to the root and acknowledges his or her place: “The myriads of things have their progenitor, yet he alone knows abide by the root; The events of the world have a source out of which they come, yet he alone knows to abide by the gateway.”30 But there is a problem in interpreting this text, when one refers on chapter 52 according to Burik, primarily of the Dao De Jing and which is also stated in the chapter 56: “Block up the openings and shut the gateways, and to the end of your days your energies will not be used up”31 The explanation to this by Burik is that by shutting the gateway is to make sure one is not disturbed or influenced by external factors and arbitrary fixations.32 This is considered by Burik as a return to the Dao, that is when we think of the Dao as an undifferentiated state of being.33 In Zhuang Zi the disputes of the Dao it is articulated:
To divide, then is to leave something undivided; to” discriminate between alternatives” Is to leave something which is neither alternative. “What?” you ask. The sage keeps it in his Breast, common men argue over alternatives to show it to each other. Hence I say: “To Discriminate between alternatives’ is to fail to see something.”34

Ibid. Burik quoted it from the Yuandao, where the yuan source is like the yuan spring a fluid and earthly source than a fixed principle, I understand the gateway as that shifting place of productivity between reversing opposites. That this place itself equally prone to changes and shifts in perspective can be read into the following passages in the YuanDao: In the innumerable differentiated directions there are countless changes, Untrammeled I am in no fixed position. I alone am in great spirits, and leaving things behind, Travel along the same path as dao. Ames, Roger and D.C. Lau.Yuan . Yuandao: Tracing Dao to its Source( New York: Ballentine Books, 1998), p. 117. 31 Ibid. 32 Ames and Hall further explains this as conserving one’s vital energies and to avoid depletion that is caused by external induced agitations. Ames and Hall Dao de Jing p. 77 33 Ibid. 303 In Zhuang Zi 34 Grahams, A.C. Chuang Tzu: The innerChapters (Indianapolis : Hacket Publishing company, 2001), p. 57



For the Daoist Sage, the way to get this ever shifting place is by “asking” as Wen and hearing as wen, according to Burik the character wen stresses the importance of the language. For Burik the space between the characters is closely related to the gateway character and therefore be seen as the shifting place that is itself nothing, but from which all diversity issue. 35 The Daoist text very project is for us to see beyond dualities, shattering our thought and questions as to how we give importance to our judgment. “The Zhuang Zi is to show that there is difference in understanding, the conventional understanding will not get beyond itself, and that there is a need to overcome the restricted way of thinking.”36 Sandra Wawrytko compared Zhuang Zi to Nietzsche and deconstruction. She said, Zhuang Zhi’s view resonate with a deconstructionist questioning of language and thinking, while Nietzsche often has been cited as an important influence on the development of Derrida’s philosophy.37 Both of the philosophers used what Norris refers to as “extreme epistemological skepticism.”38 The method used by Zhuang Zi is a deconstructive that points to a deeper issue of contrasting cultural assumptions and grounding principles.39 The very aim of Zhuang Zi according to Wawrytko is to reconcile the seeming contraries or more precisely

Ibid. According to Burik this is so when we get rid of reading tian as Heaven and instead read it as the whole process of the world or nature. 36 Ibid. 506 The Kuan Yin gatekeeper said: Within yourself, no fixed positions: Things as they take shape disclose themselves. Moving, be like water, Still, be mirror, Respond like an echo. A.C. Graham. Chuang Tzu: Inner Chapter p. 281 37 Wawrytko, Sandra A. Deconstructing the Deconstruction: Zhuang Zi as Butterfly, Nietzsche as Gadfly.(Philsoohy East and West Volume 58, Number 4 October 2008 524-551 University of Hawaii press)p. 525 38 Ibid. 525 39 Ibid.



revealing their preexisting congruity, and this can be found in the second chapter of the Book of Zhuang Zi.40 Humor in Daoism In 2008, Hans Georg Moeller wrote a commentary on the Satire in Zhuang Zi. He compared Satirical Irony of Socrates to the satire of Zhuang Zi. Moeller examines the Zhuang Zi and quoted the conversation of Gaptooth and the Daoist sage Wang Ni. Moeller said that at first the knowledge seems to be relativistic, truth claim seems to be relative to the one who makes the claim.41 But there is also a possible reading of skepticism is actually saying here—since he is mainly asking questions—is not even in a somewhat “positive” way that truth claims are always relative, but, more radically, or negatively, that one has to be skeptical with respect to the validity of any truth claim.42 Another point of view, in the eye of a western oriented person it can be read as a Socratic Irony.43 Moeller explicates that: The text may be saying that higher wisdom consists in knowing that one does not know—and therefore in the ability to ironically expose the foolishness of others who claim that they do know while in fact they do not.44 But Moeller tried to present it in a different perspective, he suggested a different reading his project is to show that Zhuang Zi is a is neither a relativist nor a skeptic, Moeller coined a different name for this which he called "knowledge abstinence"45and that this advocacy results in a form of irony that, precisely speaking, does not exactly correspond to Socratic irony but a slightly different kind
40 41

Ibid. Moeller, Hans Georg. Idiotic Irony in the Zhuangzi. (CLEAR 30, 2008) pp. 117-123 42 Ibid. A skeptic remains in a state of indecision in the face of various and often contradictory possible claims for truth 43 Ibid. 44 Ibid. 45 Ibid.


of irony that, for lack of a better word, Moeller choose to name “idiotic irony."46 The conversation of Hui Zi and Zhuang Zi with regards to the happy fish is according to Moeller would resemble to that of a fable. It is followed by a poetic description of the sagehood or the tse ren. According to Moeller:
The style of the three passages (philosophical dialogue, allegoric fable, poetic imagery) is different, but all three styles are common throughout the Zhuangzi. The “message” of the whole section is obviously quite coherent, and one that—I believe—fits nicely into the philosophical network not only of the Inner Chapters, but of Daoist philosophy in general.47

Wang Ni the Daoist sage, has affirmed that he does not what knowledge is.48 There is a form of certainty where all may agree. He does not accept that knowledge is always relative, and shows not a skeptic by denying that skeptical mood that true knowledge is unachievable. Wang Ni never showed any mood of skeptical doubt. Moeller claims that the Daoist sage is The Daoist sage simply does not operate in a mode of knowing—and also not of critical knowing in a relativist, skeptical, or Socratic form. Rather than a skeptic, a relativist, or Socrates, the Daoist sage is simply someone who has not yet been exposed to intellectual knowledge; he is an ultimate simpleton, a perfect idiot who is totally ignorant when it comes to epistemological questions and issues.49 This may show initially a total unrest and shock to anyone since no wants to look stupid or dumb in front of anybody. But this presents to us something that must be reflected on, by going back to what Wawrytko and other scholars that we have mentioned

Ibid. The first paragraph is a short philosophical exchange resembling some of the dialogues between Zhuangzi and Hui Zi, such as, for instance, the famous “happy fish” story. 47 Ibid. 48 48 Moeller quoted it From the Inner Chapters. A.C. Graham (trans. and ed.), Chuang-Tzŭ. The Inner Chapters. Indianapolis: Hackett, 2001. 58. Translation modified. Cf. Zhuangzi jishi, in Zhuzi jicheng, Beijing: Zhonghua, 1954. 43-46. 49 Ibid.



above there is a form of self deprication, to make as if or perhaps totally idiot before somebody who thinks that there is certitude. The “type” of the idiot appears quite frequently in Daoist philosophical literature and can be found already in the Daodejing. There are two lines in chapter 20 saying: “I have the heart of an idiot (yu ren).50 Moeller furthers this by telling that the sage must return to that state of complete idiot! That someone who has no particular mental content!51 A commoner who hears or read this may shun himself away from any Daoist practitioner; especially by seeing yourself that you do not have any plans, no mental intellection, no will, no desire, or inclination. But one cannot deny that this may reflect a virgin block that is an epitome of boundless possibilities." It is up to the Daoist sage to embody such a state of “extreme” mental and physical simplicity"52 This shows a radical at onement with nature. The being is in total at onement with other beings and of the universe, just like the practitioner who retreats to the mountain to attain sagehood. In the story telling of Zhuang Zi with regards to the animals, There are no such quarrels in the animal kingdom and there is no dispute in the text. Apes and loaches, gibbons and elaphures do not engage in arguments about such issues.

Ibid. Moeller exclaimed : What simplicity!” and “The ordinary people all have their purposes. I am alone are so stupid—to the degree of a yokel.” In my understanding, the “I” in the Daodejing stands for the prospective Daoist sage (ruler) who is supposed to identify himself with the teachings of the text. 51 Ibid. 52 Ibid. can be equated to a Daoist practioner who has excluded himself of the society and retreated to the mountain for silence contemplation. Moeller articulates: In the Zhuangzi, the (non-)characteristics of the sage are often related to the (non-characteristics) of animals, such as fishes or butterflies, who do not possess any self-consciousness, who do not have an “ego,” a memory, or worries about the future. The blank state of mind of the sage or the “true person” (zhen ren) is described in the Zhuangzi as such: “Even more than an ant he has discarded knowledge. Even more than a fish he is gifted with [a 52 natural] approach. Even more than a sheep he has cast off ideas.”



Animals live and sleep in certain places “naturally”53 The way this was interpreted presents to us that the acquisition of knowledge, there entails a possible problem, one can be corrupted by knowledge and judgment, an example of which is by making an inference which is the best place where to sleep, one is taken away from nature, because of knowledge we desire for comfort. We must admit that there is an exaggeration if we live out as what is suggested to have this comfort. But the real problem is that this pushes for a corruption of thought. One knows the value of things that is declared by his or her wants, not of a real value. There is an entrapment of lure of conventional comfort, of a status in the society - a social status that you must live in. What Zhuangzi implies here, such a gain of knowledge proves not to be too productive in the case of humans. By knowing more about sleeping, eating, and sex, humans do not necessary become better at these things than animals already are unknowingly.54 Therefore, this suggest a more demand for our existence! What it tries to impart is that one must be critical not is dividing things and trying to analyze, but it makes us see the bigger picture and it tickles our stubborn mind and heart to reexamine our contentions and decisions in life, do not rest unto that deceitful certainty! this pushes for that Daoist virtue of Humility! But this seems to lack fall short, for of course we must understand why is there a need for this kind of deprecation.

Ibid. Ibid. Particularly when humans “mature,” they tend to not simply sleep where they sleep, eat what they eat, and mate with whomever they mate, but to identify a right and proper place to sleep, they distinguish that which tastes good from that which does not, and they also acquire certain tastes about whom they would like to mate with.



Trivialization of Practices We must accept the fact that methods in life do make us fall into confusion. In the conversation of Tzu-Kung and Lao Tan in the Book of Zhuang Zi:
"The three August Ones and the Five Emperors ruled the world in ways that were not the same, though they were alike in praise and acclaim they won. I am told, Sir that you alone do not regard them as sages. " "I will tell you how the Three August Ones and the Five Emperors ruled the world! They called it 'ruling', but in fact they were plunging it into the worst confusion. The 'wisdom' of the three August Ones was such as blotted out the brightness of sun and moon above, sapped the vigor of hills and streams below, and overturned the ground of the four seasons in between. Their wisdom was more fearsome than the tail of the scorpion; down to the smallest beast, not not a living thing was allowed to rest of its true form of its nature and fate. 55

This implies a form of desacrelization of the sacred on the Daoist. The Zhuang Zi commentators of the outer chapters are aware of the possible centralization and banality of a method. There is a possibility that these method may be trivialized and use as cover up, and as a practice in the society where insincere and hypocrites may claim their refuge. The August ones and the five emperors are held sages in Daoism and in China, but there is a need for them not to be copied, so that the Tse Ran or spontaneous flow of nature may pour out. The danger lies on the conformity of the individuals who will praise the achievements of the sages and completely apply it to themselves and make it a law placed unto them. In Chapter 25 of Zhuang Zi entitled Tse Yang Ch'u Po-yu has been existing for sixty years and he has changed sixty times. This implies of the constancy of Change, and the individuals submission and compliance to change. He is not driven by external things, as what Burik mentioned above with regards to external factors
Zhuang Zi. The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu trans. Burton Watson. (New York: Columbia University press, 1968) pp.164-165


and arbitrary fixations. He was not carried by fixation and let nature flow its fluidity. "The sage penetrates bafflement and complication, rounding all into a single body, yet he does not why it is his inborn nature. He returns to fate and acts accordingly, using Heaven as his teacher, and men follow after, pinning labels on him."56 The sage is guided by Heaven, allows himself to be guided by the process of nature. His action has corresponding positive effects that people around him cannot ignore to praise, primarily because the sage is humble and does not flaunt his achievements. One must be free, a free mind. One can learn knowledge but he must not let this knowledge drive him to slavery that he will be a complete replication of the sage, he may ask the sage for help but upon his true understanding and self cultivation the Tse Ran shall emerge. T'ang got hold of the groom guardsman Teng Heng and had him be his tutor. He followed him and treated him as a teacher, but was not confined by him - so he could follow along completion, becoming as a result a mere holder of titles.57 There is nothing wrong in getting a teacher, even the Dao De Jing is not against teachers, what it is against is those teacher who teaches dogmatism and false conventional virtue. The teachers are just mere guide a clutches for those who cannot yet stand, but there is something within us that will set us to fly, let this Tse Ran unleash. We are not a production of the teachers or of the professors, we are just their students and they are our guide. In conventional structure and by following these and those sages, indeed there is what you call safety, because these are already accepted truths of the society. But this is not always so, for there is in us which needs to be unleashed our participation in the society, in life and for Dao!

56 57

Ibid. 281 Ibid. 283


Conclusion: Daoism is a philosophy that teaches us that we must be content by seeing uncontentment and content. One must see with a somewhat skeptical mind and eye, but there is a departure from being a skeptic and relativistic. There is a time to fly to show the Tse Ran. Indeed Daoism somewhat presents itself a form of deconstruction, a demythologization of the Holy or of the sage! For us to see a free flight, where their achievements are merely guide, for there is a place for us in the whole process Heaven, Tian and Dao! There are method, but we must be cautious for these are also vulnerable to become a haven and refuge of our frailty and as cover up of our weakness that we do not want to admit.


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