Professor, Moscow Business School Skolkovo, Russia.
Praxis and Salvation in Chinese and Western Perspectives.
Ecological declarations and diatribes against excessive consumption will be of no avail unless an ideology focused on individual benefits will be replaced by new anthropological vision that would set compelling limits to egoТs pretensions. Chinese tradition has developed a multi-faceted and in many ways sophisticated ideal of frugality, a life of self-restraint which leads to spiritual enlightenment. No doubt, this ideal has contributed a lot to the amazing endurance and sustainability of Chinese civilization. To the superficial observer it may seem no more than an involuntary response to unfavorable conditions of life: the overpopulation, the shortage of resources, the inevitable decline of family because of the continuous split of its property etc. To most modern Chinese to be smart is to be rich and, therefore, poverty is a sign of failure and dumbness.
Yet poverty is an extremely ambiguous word. As Heidegger and many others insisted, it is precisely modern technological civilization and Уaffluent societyФ which make lack of resources and permanent need a basic law of human life. The problem lies even deeper: pursuing wealth even psychologically is to lead a life of misery. Rich people can, in fact, be the poorest and most pitiful creatures in the world. There is, indeed, Уpoverty of richesФ.
Almost sixty years ago Mao Ze-dong praised Chinese nation for two qualities: Уfirst, poor; second, pureФ ????. Today we have an urgent need to rethink this saying and find new rationale for it. Frugality has a positive meaning, both philosophical and religious. Chinese tradition provides, among its many Уcommonsensical revelationsФ, some convincing links between ordinary experience and spirituality, saving money and saving soul. This unity can be achieved only naturally, i.e. not through renunciation of soulТs delights but precisely through living the pleasures of life to the fullest. For Chinese life is moral and spiritual by nature.
I would like to explore the idea of poverty as condition for enlightenment along two lines: one leading from basic moral precepts and a life of integrity to a sort of metaphysical commitment and culminating in an ideal of spiritual salvation; another leading from individual self-cultivation to a certain mode of social life.
The initial move at all times and on all continents is to overcome the narrow limits of individual ego and to open oneself unconditionally to the world. It is the requirement to Уleave everything behindФ ????, proclaimed by all spiritual disciplines. Its motive is fully positive: it is by this radical openness to the world that human beings actually become safe (and sound) just because this move precedes all others. Let me note in passing that Chinese strategists and martial art masters realized this long time ago. УMy partner has hardly started to move yet I move earlierФ ?????? , runs the saying popular among Taiiquan practitioners. Leaving everything behind provides the biggest advantage after all!
The mutual abandonment of things and the Self, i.e. becoming poor, opens the boundless field of experience and confronts with radical Other beyond all confrontations. Thus it restores lifeТs real meaning: integrity of existence, being one with the wholeness of Being without losing oneТs uniqueness. Moreover, being poor means a life of radical transformation Ц the only existentially significant way of living. As Antonio Negri notes, Уthe experience of poverty is given on the edge of time, in the innovation of the eternal; it is thus the practice of the immeasurableФ1. This looks like an inspired comment on MarxТs famous saying that the proletariat will get the whole world by losing its chains. Actually, in NegriТs post-marxist phraseology proletariat gives way to amorphous multitude (or rather SpinozaТs multitudo) while revolutionary transcendentalism is dissolving into an immanence of everyday life. Negri points out two far-reaching implications of his thesis. Poverty, he observes, is the condition of Уgoing forward in commonФ; it actually Уconfers meaning on the teleology of the commonФ. Moreover, Уthe concept of poverty excludes that of death in as much as, in order to live, the poor has already overcome deathФ2. Obviously, for Negri the act of self-abandonment is a promise of salvation because it brings all people together and makes everybody whole. Salvation is a common cause par excellence. This commonality is actually a legacy of great religions. As the Russian saint Seraphim Sarovsky said, Уsave yourself and thousands will be saved around youФ.
I would like now to make a swift detour and look at the social and saving power of self-overcoming in poverty from the perspective of Russian spiritual tradition. One hundred years ago, in February 1915, Russian Christian philosopher Vladimir Ern, trying to cope with the absurdity of the World War, underscored the crucial significance of ascetic practice for social consolidation and endurance. Ern wrote:
УAll who are of a bright and heroic brand in Russia, responding to the call from on high?humbly stand up, leave their parents,†their†whole way†of life and start†on†a journey to the suffering heart of their†motherland†wedded to Christ. And all who walk along this road of purification and sacrifice, having reached a certain limit, suddenly disappear from viewЕ The seeds of divine abundance are being covered, as it were, by the earth; they grow and bear fruit in mystery, in calmness and some place hidden from external looksФ3.
Ern is speaking of the very core of Orthodox spirituality Ч the path of manТs deification: man becomes what he is through ascending to God. The disappearance of saints from historical stage is only a fact of external look. The saints are always present in spiritual experience and, in fact, constitute the basis of any community because they are social beings par excellence. Ern calls this presence Уthe non-apparent appearance of Holy RussiaФ (не€вленна€ €вь —в€той –уси). The war with its extreme hardships and sufferings pushes everybody into poverty and thus makes possible a radical spiritual transformation, a historic explosion that exposes the essential Ц and essentially salvational Ц sociality. History, Ern claims elsewhere, moves forward through catastrophes. There is of course no promise of salvation in hardships per se, but the Savior helps those who realize that they are in need to be saved. This understanding comes from saintly people, the champions of poverty.
Exactly at the same time the German thinker Ernst Bloch, responded to the horrors of the Great War in a very similar way. BlochТs Protestant background precluded a praise for Saints, but German Christian even more resolutely emphasized mysterious but unbreakable tie between Уthe darkness of the lived momentФ and the light of final revelation in history. Bloch calls this connection an Уinconstruable questionФ and concludes his manifesto with the following words:
УThe unknowing among us is the final ground for the manifestation of this world, and for precisely this reason does knowing, the lighting flash of a future knowledge striking unerringly into our darkness and inconstruable question, constitute at the same time the inevitably sufficient ground for the manifestation, for the arrival in the other worldФ4.
The transforming explosion that Ern and Bloch are speaking about possesses an inner, symbolic depth and that makes it a revelation. It is a change†within change, essentially self-concealing, Уleading inwardФ (or upward for that matter). This qualitative change cannot be reduced to any УobjectiveФ data. The Orthodox theologian V. N. Lossky calls this self-transcendence of mind Уthe perfection of gnosis whose fullness cannot be realized before the end of this worldФ. Yet it can be posited as the task of spiritual cultivation and it is accessible to saintly persons even in their earthly life. An authoritative Byzantine writer of the 13th†century, Simeon the New Theologian, observed:
УFor those who have become the children of the Light and the sons of the Coming Day, the Advent of Christ will†never take place because they are always within it already. The Day of the Lord will happen suddenly to those who are lost in the darkness of passions and love the favors of the world. For them it will come all of a sudden and will be terrible like a tormenting fireЕФ5.
So, in Orthodox tradition historical time is conceived as essentially a double-poled reality, a sort of intermediary void which holds together the finitude of manТs physical nature and divine infinity. This history marks a continuous forward movement Ч the path toward universal perfection, it is essentially a fulfillment of creation. This development occurs both in history†and†transcends objective reality.
An important issue to be addressed here is the maintenance of proper balance between the mundane and the divine or, to speak from a phenomenological point of view, safeguarding the symbolic dimension of experience. The desire to bridge the gap between Heaven and Earth proved to be, as history shows,†the main force behind the radical secularization of Christian eschatology and the formation of revolutionary ideology. Since the latter was founded on the idea of self-identity, it inevitably evolved into de-humanized totalitarianism. This УevolutionФ determines the meaning of modem history. Therefore, to secure the genuine evolution of humankind it is necessary to restore symbolic distance between spiritual and physical dimensions of existence.
I would like now to look for Chinese analogues of these revelatory moments in history, i.e. the affirmation of deep sociality through its very concealment. One of the most illuminating examples is, of course, the passage on the УHeavenly abandonmentФ, УHeavenly releasementФ or, if you wish, Уabandonment to/of HeavenФ in theФ 9th chapter of УZhuang-ziФ This theme has a certain affinity with the Christian motive of manТs abandonment by God but actually has quite different connotations. УHeavenly abandonmentФ, according to Zhuang-zi, means that Уpeople have constant nature: they weave Ц and wear clothes, till the land Ц and get food. This is called Уunity in virtueФ. They are one and do not establish partiesФ6.
The essential message of this idyllic picture is an organic link between production Ц the real basis of social praxis Ц and the original, Уbestowed by HeavenФ, nature of humanity. This link imposes on human beings an unconditional unity beyond reflection and conscious control. Though Zhuang-ziТs vision of УHeavenly releasementФ looks utterly utopian, it actually points to the most natural and common foundation of human life. It would be more exact to call it quazi-utopian. The internal drama Ц probably the fundamental question of all sociology Ц is the inaccessibility to perception and reflection what is the most apparent in our vision of the world. We already came across this seeming paradox in ErnТ vision of Holy Rus and BlochТs idea of perfect, though inexplicable, matching of actual experience and final revelation, obscurity and light (an event explicitly mentioned in the Bible). Presumably, the source of true knowledge is the ability to see hidden continuity between two disparate dimensions: individual and common, particularistic and holistic, actual and symbolic. The nature of this knowledge and the ways to achieve it will be the central issue of subsequent exploration.
We find an instructive description of sociality attained through self-abandonment or, in Taoist terms, Уself-forgettingФ in the commentary of Wang Fuzhi to the story about Taoist master Hu-zi in the 7th chapter of УZhuang-ziФ. Hu-zi meets four times with certain Li Xian, a local expert in divination, who relies, as we would say today, on positive, proto-scientific as it were, knowledge. Hu-zi reveals to the soothsayer his various internal conditions. Finally, the master of occult knowledge rans away in great awe and Hu-zi explains:
УI showed him what I was before I came out from the supreme ancestor. I dragged him into abyss, twisting and turning; he no longer knew who he was. Now wavering reeds, now tumbling waves Ц so he fled.Ф7.
Hu-ziТs phraseology is either too technical or too cryptic or both, but we can safely say that Hu-zi speaks of plunging in the abyss of universal transformations. Though this enigmatic statement sounds like a religious revelation Wang Fuzhi in the 17th century projects it on everyday human activities:
УBefore coming out from the supreme ancestor means to stay in the middle of the universal circuit responding to everything without limits. No efforts to govern the world are made yet the world does not deviate from the right course. Tilling and weaving are being carried out by themselves, rituals and punishments are executed by themselves and all people provide safety to each other holding to what is heavenly in themЕThis is wandering in non-being where nobody can make a name for himself and following what is real in being so of itself without selfishness. This is how things can be accomplished without human deliberation. This is commonality and lodging on the way, hiding the world within the world, to be One in what is not one. It is bringing to completion in solitude oneТs Heaven and accommodating in oneТs heart what is born in time. This happens when something devoid of width penetrates the empty space and millions of years gather in one momentЕ
This means to stand in the immeasurable. All of a sudden the Heavenly impulse is born in the deepest recesses, yet remains invisible. All of a sudden one notices a flow without shores and has no idea of great and small. Numberless changes are occurring in one heart, then everything is known and everything can be put to useЕФ8
Wang Fuzhi displays a characteristically Chinese vision of supreme but elusive unity actualized through the multitude Ц potentially infinite and infinitely complex Ц of spontaneous transformations. It is not a formal unity of any kind, so it confers no identity on anything. Rather, its prototype is the kinesthetic unity of the living body, the УfleshФ, as Merleau-Ponty would name it. Affinities between Chinese epistemology and Merleau-PontyТs phenomenology of immanence extend, to be sure, much further. In both cases, reality is a junction or intersection Ц a УcrossingФ ?9in Chinese or УchiasmФ in Merleau-PontyТs theory of УfleshФ. No less obvious parallels exist for Merleau-PontyТs concepts of У?cartФ and УreversibilityФ. Later УpoststructuralФ philosophies of immanence, like that of G. Deleuze or J.-L. Nancy, also have many similarities with Chinese thinking.
Wang Fuzhi faithfully follows tradition when he speaks about ФOne mindФ ??permeating all life worlds. It is awareness, as Wang explicitly states, without self-consciousness generated by the primordial dynamism of living experience. This awareness grows according to the degree of deviating from itself, or rather yielding to itself. This is the embodied mind conditioned by flesh; or, to use traditional Chinese formula, Уone body of chaotic spontaneityФ ????. In fact, its very essence is an endless self-differentiation and, as a result, a disjunctive whole, a mutuality of singular entities beyond perception, reflection or even imagination. In a sense, an ideal phenomenological situation of pure, utterly decentered interaction: everything is opened to view but nobody can see anything.
This strange merging of extreme concreteness and supreme universality is attested by the fundamental Chinese concept of Ziran Ц УsuchnessФ of all things or Уbeing so by itselfФ which is a principle of both universality and particularity. Suchness is not a substance, but a mode of being. It is related both to the world as a whole and to the minutest particle of existence.
Reality, therefore, lies hidden in the intersection of lifeТs polarities, in the fold of the all-pervading continuity that asserts itself by escaping itself. УOne bodyФ of Being, just like a human body, is Уa pearl with nine (number of plenitude) curvesФ ???. It is a multidimensional complex system which simultaneously unfolds from points of singularity and folds into them. Thus it transcends any linear movement. This image of the body as labyrinth in transparent crystal (an image of condensed emptiness) comes from Taijuquan tradition. The relations within such system, essentially self-organizing, are determined by the principle of synergy, spontaneous and unreflective.
So, reality is not flat but possesses, as it were, a double bottom. It is Уa world within a worldФ, something located at the crossing of two incompatible perspectives of micro-scale and mega-scale dimensions, an elusive spot of mediation between a close look and a look from afar while the familiar Уobjective worldФ, a world of stereotyped images is just an Уinevitable illusionФ. No images or words can describe this reality existing Уin-betweenФ of everything, for ever УdifferentФ. Actually, Wang is not so much defining Zhuang-ziТs vision of УHeavenly releasementФ as marking it with a set of traditional terms and expressions such as Уnon-presentФ ??, projection or temporary lodging ? (since transfer or transposition, Уbeing otherФ is a real essence of this dynamic unity), Уbringing to one what is not oneФ ???? , etc.
In Уone chaotic bodyФ of Being everything is revealed by another, penetrates another, УcoloredФ by it in the way flowers in Chinese garden are exposed (and simultaneously hidden) by their shadows on the white wall. In this crystal web of universal interrelatedness the slightest change is equal to the universal catastrophe, everything is both infinitely great and infinitely small, everything is One while being singular and incomparable ?. So, the nature of things in this world is the very limit of their existence, a point of transformation and openness to the Other. In Chinese tradition it is called Уsubtle truthФ or Уmiraculous truthФ ?? because there can be no equations here, only similarities and correspondences which are lived through unconsciously. УMiraculous truthФ refers of course to the idea of the world as a Уdoor to the multitude of miraculous eventsФ ????. Indeed, matchings of incompatible things can only be miraculous. In Chinese martial arts the word Уsubtle actionФ designates so called Уinternal forceФ ???or the force generated by the kinesthetic movement of fully released body as recorded in the popular saying: УMiraculous power is in one circular movementФ ????.
Of special importance is the phrase Уwhat has no width penetrates the empty spaceФ borrowed from the story about butcher Ding in the 3rd chapter of УZhuang-ziФ. In the original text these words are followed by the remark: Уso the knife has more than enough space to roam freelyФ. This is the point (omnipresent) of pure encounter, universal УcrossingФ, overlapping in circular movements which actually precedes and in a sense anticipates all existence. It is in fact an uncreated Chaos beyond space and time, an abyss (sic!) of the Уsemen of thingsФ or, using DeleuzeТs terminology, an abode of Уlarval subjectsФ, the multitude of symbolic life-worlds which pass away even before they acquire the visual form, a Уdense forest of ten thousand imagesФ ???, as it is sometimes called in Neo-Confucian literature. Nothing exists in this dense emptiness, yet everything comes out of it.
We can see now the real meaning of Zhuang-ziТs УHeavenly releasementФ. It is the ability Ц and in a sense a courage! Ц to give free rein to the fleeting phantasms of proto-worlds. Moreover, the ability to perceive micro-transformations makes one capable to regulate them because these events belong to the realm of Уone heartФ; they are the properties of extremely sensitive awareness. This is Уputting the world in order without governing itФ. In more concrete terms, the task, as Wang Fuzhi indicates, is Уto seize the Heavenly impulseФ ?? (of changes) which conditions the course of events and even gives the capacity to Уforesee what is not yet apparentФ (Dao-De Jing, 64). By securing his grip on Уheavenly impulseФ of life the sagely person gets control over Уthe force of thingsФ, Уthe potential of the situationФ ? and use it to the best advantage. The mastery in martial arts is the knowledge how Уto seize the impulse and the force of thingsФ ????. The wisdom is, after all, the result of right cognition.
How can we secure our hold of momentum? This is the greatest mystery of Chinese tradition since in УOne HeartФ nothing as yet exists and there is nothing to talk about. This is why the Sage in China, i.e. the one who perceives the semen of things to come, cannot but be the ruler of the world and, moreover, rules secretly10. One cannot fail to notice a strong element of strategic thinking here. This fact of course did not escape the attention of Chinese strategists. For instance, Wang FuzhiТs elderly contemporary Feng Menglung in his authoritative collection of strategic wisdom uses the same sentence about Уfree wanderingФ or Уfree playingФ from УZhuang-ziФ as the definition of supreme strategic wisdom and the epitome of freedom11. Indeed, by getting back to the pre-existence of creative Chaos, the Уpoint of spiritual illuminationФ ???often mentioned in Chinese accounts of spiritual enlightenment, one is free to let things happen but he or she, having no selfish ego, spontaneously does it to the advantage of all. In China, superb strategy matches impeccably with perfect morality.
Interestingly, Chinese Уcare of the SelfФ (a theme which goes back to Confucius and Lao-zi) does not involve self-affirmation because Chinese subject is a non-Self which abides at the (dis)junction of two layers of Being: the multitude of larval subjects and the УGreat AncestorФ, the hidden focus of the universal circuit. In fact, larval selves remain passing potentialities just because they deviate from this УancestorФ. To be sure, Chinese thought does know the imperative of Уreturning to oneselfФ ??and Уseizing oneselfФ ??, yet the locus of identity here is not subjectivity but a neatly articulated, purely relational and hence УsincereФ action, a correspondence. The truth for Chinese is something most common, Уclose to handФ, unreflectively lived through by all and, finally, the most trustworthy Ц an act of forgetting. For example, Chen Xianchang, a scholar of the 15th century, while being a devout Confucian, reiterates Zhuang-ziТs motive of УHeavenly releasementФ. He declares: УI forget myself and I am greatФ. Chen advocates the unity of humankind in complete self-sufficiency defying even the relations of ritualistic mutuality.
УHeaven trusts Heaven by itself, Earth trusts Earth by itself, I trust myself by myself, I move and stand still by myself. X does not expect offerings from Y and Y does not expect presents from X. Ox acts as ox by itself, horse acts as horse by itself. One gets influence here and responds there, acts on what is near and looks at what is farЕ Not a single thing acts insincerely in this spaceЕФ12
We know already that Уfinding oneselfФ is releasing oneself into multiplicity of proto-egos while simultaneously keeping to the universal course of events since the intuition of centrality is absolutely natural for us. The continuity between the two abysmal dimensions of personal identity Ц singularities and universal УancestorФ Ц precludes the appearance of self-identical subjects. The truth of life cannot be grasped in individual introspection but must be realized in generic non-action Ц a symbol of all actions.
This theme is not without its parallels in Western thought. Suffice is to recall HaideggerТs concept of identity as Уa spring into abyssФ which is Уan event of appropriationФ or Уbelonging together of man and BeingФ. Man, Heidegger concludes, Уis essentially this relationship of responding to BeingФ13. This is the identity of the Уcoming dayФ manifested as non-identity in the objectified world.
To the superficial look Chinese (quazi)utopia of radical immanence is pretty similar to the Western utopia of perfect technology. IsnТt Wang FuzhiТs society run by the self-assured professionals who do their job with impeccable competence and smoothness? Yet the key to peaceful and prosperous life of УHeavenly releasementФ is not an efficient technology per se let alone some sort of instrumental knowledge, but an exceptional sensitivity of virtuoso master who УforgetsФ his material, his tools and even himself in the pure actuality of work, but is acutely aware of the overall disposition and rhythm of his practice. He is dealing, after all, not with things but with the relations of things Ц an approach that reminds HeideggerТs sociality of Gelassenheit, based on the oblivion of subject-object opposition. It is radically different from the Western utopia in at least one sense: it has neither normativity nor teleology. Its real core is human praxis in its fluid actuality, a continuum of transformations containing the possibility of everlasting meta-transformation, a vertical ascension, a promise of eternal living. It is a community not so much of craftsmen or skilled people but of masters of oneТs life and destiny. They are completely at ease, preserving original trust to the world like the baby relies blindly and happily on her mother. Absence of selfish ego miraculously guarantees their safety simply because they let life flow freely. This is the origin of povertyТs greatest virtue Ц patience and endurance. The Chinese community of mutual confidence rooted in the deep trust in oneТs existence stands in sharp contrast to the postmodern УinoperativeФ community in the West, which looks for its essence outside of itself and therefore is doomed to live in anxiety and melancholy.
The communal life of УHeavenly releasementФ is founded, as I have mentioned, on the imperative of spiritual enlightenment and, therefore, presupposes hierarchy and a gap between the profanes who live by the stereotyped, and commonsensical notions and the wise who are aware of the world of micro-images and know how everybody can Уlive by himselfФ through responding to Being. However, there is no place for a confrontation let alone conflict between them because, firstly, on the cognitive plane Уimmanent enlightenmentФ does not deny stereotypes and even finds Уtemporary lodgingФ, a УshelterФ in them and, secondly, the wise are leading their life of self-cultivation for all and establish the very basis of common living.
What is the criteria of oneТs degree of enlightenment? Evidently, it is the capacity to discern the differences in the (self-differentiating) flow of experience or, in Chinese terms, the intuition of time-impulse ??, which in practice means right timing. It acts on the Фcriss-crossingФ of mental and material, virtual and actual dimensions of existence bringing to harmonic wholeness the infinite richness of living experience. The highest mastery in martial arts, which amounts to Уspiritual understandingФ, corresponds to the Уlimit of hearing and seeingФ; it accommodates, УappropriatesФ in HeideggerТs language, a Уchange at every encounterФ and is, in fact, the absolutely natural Уsense of bodyТs movementФ14.
What is meant here by the Уlimit of hearing and seeingФ? The highest level of sensual perception or the point of losing oneТs senses? I suppose, both meanings are valid. The limit of things is the point of their transformation into the polar opposition. Being sensitive means being subtle and effortlessly changing.
Let us accept BergsonТs thesis: in the living experience things are actually durations and the world is organized by the differentiation of speeds. In this case, on the way to spiritual enlightenment the perceived intervals of time are gradually getting shorter and the Уforest of symbolsФ is getting denser. The logical outcome of this process is the ability Ц hypothetical, to be sure Ц to embody the shortest possible duration and thus to anticipate all worldly events with all political, strategic and even moral advantages this achievement can bring.
The supreme enlightenment, therefore, has two at first glance quite different, even contradictory aspects: it has the character of radical transformation, explosion, ontological Big Bang and it is essentially immanent and natural, occurring every moment in the deepest recesses of living experience. The history of a search for enlightenment in China moved along both lines. In the age of Neo-Confucianism the ideal of enlightenment became essentially secular, a matter of personal and even civil maturity. Let me quote one of the best testimonies of enlightenment experience. It belongs to the scholar of Late Ming times Gao Panlung and is dated 1595:
УSuddenly, it was as if a load of a hundred pounds has fallen to the ground in an instant. It was as if a flash of lightning had penetrated the body and pierced the intelligence. Subsequently I was merged with the Great Transformation until there was no differentiation between Heaven and humanity, exterior and interior. At this point I saw that the six points of the universe were all my mind, Уframe of the bodyФ was their field and Уsquare inch of spaceФ was their original seat. In terms of their spiritual and luminous character no location could actually be spoken of. I ordinary despised scholars who discussed enlightenment with great display, but now I could see that it was something quite natural and realized that from now on it was suitable to apply all my own efforts to this endФ15.
Enlightenment, as we can see, is really a moment of extraordinary tension and concentration: a flash of lightning, an explosion. It is as if the whole universe literally came to rest in a Уsquare inch of spaceФ Ц a space of oneТs and One heart of absolutely uncertain location. This is why the lightning of the УGreat TransformationФ for Gao Panlung like the lightning of final revelation for Ernst Bloch Уstrikes unerringlyФ. It is the moment of undeniable truth and unshaking confidence. Yet one can hardly Уkeep on livingФ in it. It is so dense that it is impossible, to recall another important testimony of this kind by the painter Shen Zhou in 1492 Уto insert in it even the smallest hairФ16. This explains why descriptions of enlightenment refer mostly to what was before and, no less important, after that moment. In spite of its explosive nature, enlightenment does not annihilate nor is meant to annihilate the ordinary existence. Enlightenment does not destroy the critical distance in thinking, on the contrary Ц it reinforces it. Post-enlightenment life requires moral effort as before and Neo-Confucian literature is full of instructions on how to live through this stage. Moreover, no experience can provide objective evidence of oneТs enlightenment. Gao Panlung himself remained doubtful about the nature of his spiritual achievements to the end of his life.
We find a similar evolution of the ideal of salvation in the West. With the passage of history this ideal descends from the heights of monastic spirituality into the depth of ordinary existence. Suffice is to recall Walter BenjaminТs definition of surrealist revolution as Уprofane illuminationФ or his ideas of an alarm clock that Уrings sixty times in a minuteФ, Уthe dynamite of a tenth of a secondФ etc.: fairly pervasive images of the sharpened sensitivity characteristic of enlightenment.
Religious dogmas notwithstanding, there is no guarantee of salvation in human practice. Yet it is equally true that there is no salvation without striving for oneТs unknown identity of the УComing DayФ. Moreover, searching for salvation through Praxis in its pure actuality is the only way for human beings to affirm their humanness and thus join life eternal of human race. In this paper, I have tried to bring together diverging views from East and West on the most important issue of human living with the hope to open new perspectives for discussing the common fate of humanity. How can we define this Уmiraculous meetingФ of action and salvation? Very different intellectual traditions and modes of thinking provide amazingly similar answer to this question: it is through yielding and literally giving way not just to things or other Selves but to the irresistible force of BeingТs vortex. Finally, the spirit cannot help letting the world go. Only in this way we can bring together actuality and eternity, uniqueness and solidarity, innovation and preserving primordial wholeness of Being.
As Emmanuel Housset observes, there is a Уtranscendence in passivityФ that provides the proof of existence in the power to give17. Now we can really appreciate that saying of Russian Saint: Уsave yourself and around you thousands will be savedФЕ We can neither produce nor possess this saving power of eternal moment but we can safeguard and even channel it. Our vocation would then become loving patience, letting everything grow described so aptly already in УDao De-jingФ and reiterated by many of our contemporaries. It would strip us of excessive rationality and its artificial, narcissistic identities, but fill existence with anticipation and remembrance, anticipation for nothing, remembrance of nothing that may seem totally useless if only they did not give meaning to life. Hopefully, it can become the ground for genuine existential solidarity of humankind beyond doctrinal barriers.
1 Antonio Negri. Time for Revolution. New York Ц London: Continuum. 2003. P.195.
2 Ibid. P.197.
3 ¬.‘. Ёрн. —очинени€. ћосква: ѕравда, 1991. —. 384.
4 Ernst Bloch. The Spirit of Utopia. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000. P. 229.
5 Cf. ¬.Ќ.Ћосский. ќчерк мистического богослови€ русской церкви. Ц ћистическое богословие. иев: ѕуть к истине, 1991. —. 249.
6 ¬.‘. Ёрн. —очинени€. “. 2. ћосква: ѕравда, 1991. —. 384.
7 Modified translation by R. Eno. www.indiana.edu/~p374/Zhuangzi.pdf
8 Wang Fuzhi. Lao-zi yan. Zhuang-zi tong. Zhuan-zi jie. Beijing: Zhonghua, 2009. P.148.
9 This term is often used by Late Medieval authors in their descriptions of environment. It plays a key role in the Japanese theories of social practice as well.
10 The most plausible explanation of this cognitive world-creating is suggested by G. Deleuze who finds its model in the differential calculus. See: G. Deleuze, The Fold. Leibnitz and Baroque. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. P. 117.
11 See Feng Menlung. Zhineng, authorТs preface.
12 Cf. Xun Xiaoquan. Chen Baisha zhexue yanjiu. Beijing: Zhonghua, 2009. P.98.
13 M.Heidegger. Identit?t und Differenz. Pf?llingen: Neske, 1957. S 31.
14 Taijiquan pu. Ed. By Shen Shou. Beijing: Renmin tiyu, 1995. P.137.
15 R.L. Rodney. The Religious Dimensions of Confucianism. Albany: SUNY, 1990. P. 62.
16 See: Kathlyn Liscomb. The Power of Quiet Sitting at Night: Shen ChouТs (1427-1509) Night Vigil. Ц Monumenta Serica, Vol. XLIII, 1995. P. 381-403.
17 Emmanuel Housset. La vocation de la personne. Paris: PUF, 2007. P. 480.