Zhuang Zi’s Mentality of Cosmic Liberty
Daoism for both religion and philosophy has Lao Zi (Lao Tzu) and Zhuang Zi (Zhang Tzu) as their patriarchal thinkers, with Lao Zi focused more on cosmological ontology and political philosophy while Zhuang Zi on cosmological skepticism and philosophy of life. When Indian Buddhism was first introduced in China, Chinese scholars would rather parallel its dependent origination with Lao Zi’s cosmological Dao while its nirvana with Zhuang Zi’s philosophy of life or mentality of cosmic liberty (xiaoyaoyou). But now when trying to introduce Zhuang Zi as an originative philosopher to western readers, it would be instructively appropriate to refer to Hellenic Pyrrho of Elis and his anecdotal account: Once terrified and threatened by a stormy sea travel, Pyrrho pointed at an eating pig careless of all risks and thus commented: wise man should be undisturbed as this pig! When travelling to India in the wake of Alexander the Great, Pyrrho met naked philosophers there and admired their tranquil, impassive, and non-committal mentality in evidencing the noblest virtue. And his idea of “peace of soul” realized in avoiding any definite judgment made the modern German philosopher Nietzsche believe that Pyrrho was a Hellenic Buddhist. Thus any philosopher who seeks for spiritual tranquility by rejecting all definite conceptions, ideas, and principles is labeled as Pyrrhonist.