From Self to Sage
From Self to Sage
The traditions of Confucianism, Daoism, and their later adoption of and adaptation by Buddhism envisioned a world that, re-described in modern parlance, is composed of shifting, fractal dimensions in which emergence can happen along turbulent boundaries of attractors where tensions arise between opposites. For the ancients, these ways of thinking invoked nascent principles of our current understanding of deterministic chaos; they glimpsed self-organization proceeding toward complexity, and human beings moving through the world with wuwei, an adept sense of participation. This participatory ethos can be situated on a cultural spectrum of behavior that extends between integrity (individuality) and intimacy (sociality, cooperation). An approach to life that empathizes the intimacy portion of the spectrum leads to the highest expression of the self in Confucian, Daoist, and Buddhist environments where an effortless expertise, ziran, may be achieved, arising from unforced participation within a particular sector or system of the world. The individual who attains such a state is recognized as a sage. Such a person is a cooperator in the broadest sense, very often an innovator and a catalyst, and, in social systems, a constructive leader. Sagely behavior is proposed as the supreme achievement of biotic and cultural evolution.
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