To build on improvision in a perfect or knowing way

Having once again traversed the length of the Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi), I am struck initially by this sense of peace and calm that is required to facilitate the connection, or as I often think, the channel between us as self described mystics. There was a phrase I caught while watching TV last night “To build on improvision in a perfect way.” For me it simply means to be able to improvise in a knowing way. Every day as I sit, read, write, watch something on TV or peruse the internet is done as improvisation. I am free, I am in wu wei, to be without forethought, or my own perfect harmony. As such there can be no right or wrong thought or action, or feelings of happiness or unhappiness, as everything that occurs is in perfect sync with my perfect nature. As if I am internally quiet, in tune and listening to the ebb and flow of the universe, while that which is present in the outer world flows around and about me.

What is considered as meditation is not time set aside for this connection, but a way of living 24/7 everyday in an inner silence, or quiet, regardless of the events of the outer world that swirl around me. In perusing the internet I found the paragraph below by Scott “Bao Pu” Barnwell that helps to define this feeling.

Quietism, as I use the term, refers to the practice(s) of achieving and maintaining a tranquil, serene and unperturbed mind, possibly accompanied with a relaxed body. In such a state, the Divine, however construed, takes the lead in, or becomes the agent of one’s actions. Arthur Waley seems to have been the first to use it with regards to ancient China and the Taoists in particular. Many of the “knack-stories” in the Zhuangzi fit with this conception of quietism, as when the butcher Ding quiets his senses, empties his mind, and allows his spirit (shen ) to guide him through the natural inherent patterns in the oxen he works with. Further, the notions of spontaneous response/adaptation often appear to be examples of quietism insofar as the person, after clearing and quieting his or her mind, finds himself/herself spontaneously adapting to situations with a perfect fit, as if something divine were guiding him/her. As A.C. Graham put it, “The Taoist’s motions derive not from himself as man, but from Heaven working through him.” Describing this as “quietism” (a form of religious mysticism requiring extinction of the will, withdrawal from worldly interests, and passive meditation on God, Tao, and divine things) to refer to practices that consist of emptying and quieting of the mind, such as  meditation, despite lacking explicit claims of “divine” inspiration or agency. Quietism is closely linked to mysticism, especially Harold Roth’s so-called “bi-modal” mysticism, whereby one’s mode of being is profoundly transformed by the mystic unitive (i.e., something capable of causing unity or serving to unite) experience.

Times Spent with Chuang Tzu

I’ve been writing about defining the characters (people used to make a point) and my interpretations of the Book of Chuang Tzu this month and am concluding Section 6 – The Great and Venerable Teacher and thoughts of time spent wandering the universe.  Chuang Tzu is big on discussing benevolence and righteousness with Confucius and others as examples. Showing how language can be used to show inequities in what is taken as truth and falsehood, and how in the end neither can be lasting. And in the end with who and how we spend our time.

Yi Erh-tzu went to see a recluse of the time of Yao, Hsu Yu, who asked him “What kind of assistance has Yao been giving you?” Yi Erh-tzu said, “Yao told me, “You must learn to practice benevolence and righteousness and to speak clearly about right and wrong!” “Then why come to see me?” said Hsu Yu. “Yao has already tattooed you with benevolence and righteousness and cut off your nose with right and wrong as a punishment, now how do you expect to go wandering in any far-away, carefree, and as-you-like-it paths?” “That may be,” said Yi Erh-tzu. “But I would like if I may to wander in a little corner of them.” “Impossible!” said Hsu Yu.  “Eyes that are blind have no way to tell the loveliness of faces and features; eyes with no pupils have no way to tell the beauty of colored and embroidered silks.”   Yi Erh said, “Yes, but Wu-chuang forgot her beauty, Chu-liang forgot his strength, and the Yellow Emperor forgot his wisdom – all were content to be recast and remolded forgetting themselves in the Way. How do you know that the Creator will not wipe away my tattoo, stick my nose back on again, and let me ride on the process of completion and follow after you, Master?”

“Ah – we can never tell,” said Hsu Yu. “I will just speak to you about the general outline.  This Teacher of mine, this Teacher of mine – he passes judgment on the ten thousand things but he doesn’t think himself righteous; his bounty extends to ten thousand generations but he doesn’t think himself benevolent. He is older than the highest antiquity but he doesn’t see himself long-lived; he covers heaven, bears up the earth, carves and fashions countless forms, but he doesn’t think himself skilled. It is with him alone I wander.”