Thursday, May 1, 2008

the way of chuang tzu

In the mid 1960’s, Merton published a little book, “The Way of Chuang Tzu”. He had been studying, meditating, and making notes on the Chuang Tzu texts for a few years. Merton calls his notes “imitations”, or interpretive readings, that grew from his comparing four different translations (2 English, 1 French, and 1 German) of the original Chinese. He realized that all translations of Chuang Tzu are largely “guessing”, which reflect not only the translator’s degree of Chinese scholarship, but also their grasp of the mysterious “way” described by a Master 2500 years ago.

This “way” is characteristic of a certain mentality found everywhere in the world: a taste for simplicity, for humility, self-effacement, silence, and a refusal to take seriously the aggressivity, the ambition, the push, and the self-importance that one must display in order to get along in society.

It is a “way” that prefers not to get anywhere in the world, or even in the field of some supposedly spiritual attainment.

The “Little Way” of St. Therese of Lixieux could be said to correspond to the deepest aspirations of Chuang Tzu.

The “way” of Chuang Tzu is mysterious because it is so simple that it can get along without being a way at all.

The “way” is not a “way out”, but when you enter upon this kind of way you leave all ways, and in some sense, get lost.

[Information above was drawn from and paraphrased from the “Note to the Reader” that prefaces Merton’s book, “The Way of Chuang Tzu”.]

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