“And to serve your own mind so that sadness or joy do not sway or move it; to understand what you can do nothing about and to be content with it as with fate – this is the perfection of virtue.”
— Chuang Tzu, “In the World of Men”
Chuang Tzu is the principal character of all four volumes of my books. The reason will become clear upon reading the first volume. Suffice to state that as the precursor to Taoism (ahead of Lao Tzu), he is surprisingly closer akin to Nietzsche in brilliantly subtle ways. Among other distinctive commonalities, they are both marvelous with impressing a meaningfully potent impact to their words.
For the purpose of this post, words is the operative element at play:
From the above statement, Chuang Tzu could be seen as extolling perfection of virtue as a sort of shield of invincibility and symbol of perfect harmony. In a manner, perfection for him is thus man’s ultimate achievement as he becomes the “Perfect Man” he so describes throughout his writings. However, juxtaposing another statement from Chuang Tzu next to his statement above, we could also claim all achievements are fool’s play in this, our “Supreme Swindle”:
“And someday there will be a great awakening when we know that this is all a great dream. Yet the stupid believe they are awake, busily and brightly assuming they understand things…how dense! […] Words like these will be labeled the Supreme Swindle”
–ibid, “Discussion on Making All Things Equal”
In other words, we could use his own statements to contradict him and this is not uncommon with all his writings. Indeed, it furthers his point about words being the “Supreme Swindle” and thus, to let them go. Along this vein, we arrive at the deeper meaning that also intersects with IPT.
For Chuang Tzu, letting go of words – meaning – enables man to attain a level of virtue – perfection of virtue – and thus, a freedom from the worldly. That is how he is able to be content with his own fate, as he states above. Similarly, IPT argues for an ultimate freedom (UF) of and from the self. When man is caught up in words and meaning, he is in the self. When he attains UF, he is in the other. He is UF.
It is not virtue, or perfection of virtue, but rather potentiality and creative potentiality that is man’s shield of invincibility. It is the ultimate indestructible element defying all boundaries and limitations and as such, is a medium of man’s indestructibility and immortality. Through creation and the created, man endures and lives on in legacy.
Potentiality is the catalyst and seed that never dies and eternally springs recurrence…it is the unaffected motor that refuses to die. It is the internal machinery blueprint for all, everything, and nothing. The greatest and purest virtue – the one that is true – is that of realized potentiality. This virtue is the most direct path towards freedom from the self: the state at which the teachers of virtue have become their highest virtue, necessity for meaning is superfluous and thus, obviated.