Constrained in Will and Detachment in Taoist Philosophy

Discusses the meaning of Chuang Tzu’s chapter 15 in Constrained in Will with regard to Taoist philosophy.

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The paper analyzes chapter 15 of Chuang Tzu’s work in terms of what it tells us of Taoist philosophy and its implications of the time and society in which it was written. The paper discusses how Chuang Tzu’s chapter reminds the reader that the individual does have power to shape an experienced reality in terms of how this reality is dealt with. Furthermore, the paper explains that the results of a well cultivated mind do demand a constant attention to ethics in the need for virtuous behavior and thought that will avoid the threat of contaminating the all-important spirit.
The volume to which this paper refers was written by a person, or group of persons perhaps, who remain rather lost in time. Watson has commented that whoever Chuang Chou was, the writings credited to him, or to his circle or his different influences, have been placed within a contribution that is said to be the work of one, Chuang Tzu. As Watson explains, I am referring not to a specific individual known to us through history, but to the mind, or group of minds, revealed in the text called Chuang Tzu. (1968, 3) The volume to which this paper refers is actually a collection of different texts, all of which can be seen to emphasize in perhaps different ways, a theme of virtue as part of a human goal of mental and spiritual or psychic freedom. The chapter emphasizes the perennial interior struggle that belongs to the sage and as the figure of the sage has continued to be revered in different ways through the long, long record of Chinese civilization and thought. From it, we can gain insight into very old Chinese ideas of the mind and spirit as they are generally held to be in contrast with the external, or at least material, world. The spirit is associated with heavenly authority and cosmological influences that are not accessible to persons who remain caught up in the ways of the world.”

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