Chuang Tzu’s “Crazy Wisdom” for Elders

by Donald P. St. John

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Book Details

Language : English
Publication Date : 10/11/2019

Format : Softcover
Dimensions : 6x9
Page Count : 192
ISBN : 9781982236250
Format : E-Book
Dimensions : N/A
Page Count : 192
ISBN : 9781982236267

About the Book

This book draws upon the classic work of the ancient Taoist storyteller/philosopher Chuang Tzu (370-286 b.c.e.) to critique our society’s conventional understanding of aging and its biased interpretations of the qualities exhibited by elders as well as alternative positive “ways” for an elder to develop his or her often neglected potentials and powers for elder growth. To accomplish this the chapters of the book are meant to explore how the crazy wisdom of the Chuang Tzu (and to a lesser degree, the Lieh Tzu) can assist us in reaching four goals: 1) Contribute to a recognition of modern society’s uncreative stereotypes and declinist prejudices associated with the meaning and process of aging as well as the social conformities that prepare children and adults to ignore the fires of personal growth. 2) Present Chuang Tzu’s alternative and positive interpretations of psychological and behavioral phenomena often criticized by family and friends which can and often do negatively affect an elder’s sense of self. Chuang Tzu explores the deeper positive possibilities opened up through forgetting, wandering, and being useless. 3) Suggest ways (taos/daos) by which elders can explore, engage with and be energized by an integrated functioning of body, heart-mind and spirit or spiritual energy (shen qi). 4) Help elders (and others) develop an appreciation for and sensitivity to the dynamic, harmonious and diverse unity of the wider cosmic-earth process as well as to learn how to move with it, and thus be uplifted by its felt-presence and inspired by its innate wisdom. Pondering and emotionally and spiritually opening to the nature of the human life/death cycle in this wider context can be transforming especially for wise elders, according to Taoists Chuang Tzu and Lieh Tzu.

About the Author

Donald St. John, Ph.D. is a Professor Emeritus of Religion at Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA. His study of the religions of the world earned him an M.A. at Temple University and a Ph.D. from Fordham University. His dissertation was on the Dream-Vision Experience of the Iroquois. Don was also a Franciscan for six years. He has published articles on a variety of topics including Native American Religions, Ecological Spirituality, Thomas Merton. “The Ecologcal Wisdom of Merton’s Chuang Tzu” appeared in a 2011 volume on Merton and the Tao He wrote a classroom guide on The Tao te Ching by Lao Tzu (50 pp.) for his Religious Philosophies of China & Japan course. He won the 2004 Catholic Press Association Award for Best Book on Spirituality (Soft Cover) for his co-edited work Teilhard in the Twenty-First Century: The Emerging Spirit of Earth. St. John was Editor of Teilhard Studies (1994-2007) as well as founder and editor of Ecospirit (1984-1990).