This starts off with a simple Taoist Word: Ziran
From wikipedia as a starting point
Ziran is a concept in Daoism that literally means “self so; so of its own; so of itself” and thus “naturally; natural; spontaneously; freely; in the course of events; of course; doubtlessly” (Slingerland 2003, p. 97; Lai, p. 96). This Chinese word is a two-character compound of zi (自) “nose; self; oneself; from; since” and ran (然) “right; correct; so; yes”, which is used as a -ran suffix marking adjectives or adverbs (roughly corresponding to English -ly). It is worth mentioning that in Chinese culture, the nose (or zi) is a common metaphor for a person’s point of view (Callahan, 1989).
The word ‘ziran’ first occurs in the Daodejing (17, 23, 25, 51) and refers to the structure of Dao, which cannot be referred back to anything else.
D. T. Suzuki, in a brief article penned in 1959, makes the suggestion of ziran as an aesthetic of action: “Living is an act of creativity demonstrating itself. Creativity is objectively seen as necessity, but from the inner point of view of Emptiness it is ‘just-so-ness,’ (ziran). It literally means ‘by itself-so-ness,’ implying more inner meaning than ‘spontaneity’ or ‘naturalness'”
If you look this up in a contemporary Chinese dictionary, you’ll find ziran as meaning something like “at ease, natural, free from affectation”. Also, a slightly different pronunciation, but same characters, ziran, you’ll get nature or natural, or naturally, in the ordinary course of events; or “of course”. It has in any case, a fundamentalness, which is what we are trying to achieve (through wu wei, which can be described as “non-assertion.”). Or perhaps ziran is a little like Kant’s “ding an sich” (thing in itself). You can’t really know it, but you can be it. So this is in part getting beyond all the illusions and stresses we create for ourselves.
It is a cultural curiosity that when Chinese want to refer to themselves, they very often point to their nose (zi), not to the chest/heart area as westerners might.
In the Tao Te Ching in the last lines of verse 25 are about ziran.
ren fa di,
di fa tian,
tian fa dao,
dao fa zi ran.
Man follows the ways of earth
The earth follows the ways of heaven
Heaven follows the ways of Tao
Tao follows its own ways. (ziran). (John C.H.Wu)
In English rhetoric we might say something is so ‘by definition’. The importance of Ziran is to acknowledge ourselves / or something for what it is in “essence” rather than trying to hang other definitions for “Self” or “Thing”. To use definitions will create images that confused and distract from an innate fundamental naturalness.
Ziran doesn’t have an English translation really. So when people come across it in the Tao Te Ching it gets translated as many different aspects. A common translation used would be “Core nature”
So as those who work with me directly know, at some point I will teach each student how to connect to their “core essence”. What is that core essence? Well it’s the point of you, that no longer needs words to describe. You can now almost say: It’s the point when you meld into Ziran.
It’s is closer to say Ziran is to the Tao as your Core Essence is to You.
Ziran and your Core essence reflect each other.
So if you embraced your core essence you can also accept what it is to say “Ziran” since it isn’t a concept of words, it is a concept of “core being”
It’s always fun to show a person their core essence, because it’s so simple. If you try to make it complicated… For instance: to try and match to your story or name.. you will miss your core essence entirely because your stories are complicated and entangled beasts of many aspects rolled together. This is why seekers often spend decades seeking their core essence and yet I can show a person their core essence in a single breath.
This is why in teaching the Tao I prefer to teach within lessons in life over printed text. In words you will dance around Ziran until you turn blue. But if I show you your core essence, you then can embrace Ziran within a single breath also.
There is no need to define Ziran at all with a complicated definition. It just is…! But at least we now have a word for it:
This is a transcription from a Awakening Dragon community discussion and several Dragon authors (Sandy, Brent and Casey) are intermixed in this work :). Thanks to everyone!