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Nature, Life and Meditation

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  1. Nature, Life and Meditation • The Great Clod • “burdens me with form, toils me through life, eases me in old age, rests me in death. Thus, that which makes my life good is also that which makes my death good…. (ZZ 6:5, p.59) • Life and death are equally pleasurable • Accept death/go along with heaven, then can one enter natural transformation without regret

  2. Comply with Nature • Sit and forget (ZZ 6:9, p. 64) • slough off your limbs and trunk • dim your intelligence • depart from your form • leave knowledge behind • become identical with the great Way (Transformational Thoroughfare) • “Sit and forget” enables one to transform into a renewed being

  3. Forget oneself in the rivers and lakes. • “when springs dry up, fish huddle together on the land. They blow moisture on each other and keep each other wet with their slime. But it would be better if they could forget themselves in the rivers and lakes. Rather than praising Yao [sage] and condemning Jie [tyrant], it would be better for people to forget both of them and assimilate their ways.” (ZZ 6:2, p. 53) • The happiness of fish (ZZ, 17:7, P.165)

  4. Stop Unnatural Action • Stop galloping forward (ZZ 2:3, p.14) • Do not abandon five precepts (ZZ 2:9, p.19) • Nurture/cultivate one’s inner qi/ch’i • spiritual transformation can make one a renewed person/being, and can lead to physical transformation • Concentration (ZZ 3:2, pp.26-27) • Fasting of the mind (ZZ 4:1, p.32) • Sit and forget (ZZ 6:9,p.64)

  5. Body and Mind • Fasting of the mind (mind-fasting): entering emptiness (ZZ 4:1, p.32,) • Observe the void • Maintaining the unity of your will and don’t let yourself “gallop while sitting” (ZZ 4:1,p.33) • Let your sense communicate within and rid yourself of the machinations of the mind (or devoid yourself from the knowledge acquired through the use of the mind) • Mind-fasting relies much on listening/concentrating on qi/ch’i • It will lead to spiritual transformation

  6. Cook Ting/Ding Transformed • Story about Cook Ting/Ding: Cutting an ox without seeing the whole ox (p.26) • “After three year, I no longer saw whole oxen..” Brick painting in the Wei-Jin Period

  7. Accomplished an incredible feat: Meet the ox with his spirit • “Today, I meet the ox with my spirit rather than looking at it with my eyes. My sense organs stop functioning and my spirit moves at pleases. In accord with the natural grain, I slice at the great crevices, lead the blade through the great cavities. Following its inherent structure, I never encounter the slightest obstacle even where the veins and arteries come together or where the ligaments and tendons join, much less from the big bones….” (p.26) • “since I am inserting something without any thickness into an empty space, there will certainly be lots of room for the blade to play around in….”(p.27)

  8. Later Taoists on Meditation • Later Taoists developed elaborate skills based on Zhuangzi’s ideas: • Five steps as progressive gateways to the Dao: • Fasting and abstention: cleansing the body and emptying the mind • Seclusion: withdrawing deep into the meditation chamber • Visualization and imagination: taming the mind and recovering original nature • Sitting in oblivion: letting go of the personal body and completely forgetting oneself • Spirit liberation: spirit pervasion of all existence

  9. Different Views on Nature • Antagonistic: • Buddhism’s maya; European “man of middle age • Nature is alien peril of the spirit • Early Confucianism: • Treated animals in derogatory terms; indifferent to animal behaviors • Exploitative: want to conquer/plunder nature • Theistic/anthropocentric: • Catholicism: “God created man in his own image”; • Mohism: creatures and things are created by a divine providence for the sake of man

  10. Analytical: sympathetic, detached, questioning (some Chinese philosophers such as Wang Chong) • Animistic/moralistic: personification of nature; deification of forces and objects of nature; attributed human qualities to the forces and objects of nature (later Daoist adepts) • Semi-receptive: interested in seeing how human actions might affect the world of non-human phenomena; more interested in human than nature (scientists in modern times) • Wholly receptive: see things in light of nature; seek union with nature; find the presence of the Tao in all things. (the ZhuangziSchool)

  11. Zhuangzi’s Receptiveness • Based on a holistic view of nature • Don’t impose on “wonton” human values and institutions (ZZ 7:7, p.71) • Man should comply with nature, even be intoxicated with nature • The relationship between man and nature is that of harmonious rather than competitive. • Nature is so immense that it encompasses all realities (known and unknown), noumenon and phenomenon, natural and supernatural. • While we accept whatever we receive from nature and follow nature to live out our lives, it is important that we learn to be one with nature