Open Journal of Philosophy
2013. Vol.3, No.4, 479-490
Published Online November 2013 in SciRes (
Open Access 479
Body Thinking, Story Thinking, Religion
Kuang-Mi ng Wu
Philosophy Departm ent, Univer s ity of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, Oshkosh, USA
Received August 17th, 2013; revised September 17th, 2013; accepted September 25th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Kuang-Ming Wu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons At-
tribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
This essay offers two novel thinking-modes, “body thinking” and “story thinking,” both intrinsically in-
terrelated, as alternative reasoning to usual analytical logic, and claims that they facilitate understanding
“religion” as our ultimate living in the Beyond. Thus body thinking, story thinking, and religion naturally
gather into a threefold thinking synonymy. This essay adumbrates in story-thinking way this synonymy in
four theme-stages, one, appreciating body thinking primal at our root, to, two, go through story-thinking
that expresses body thinking to catalyze religion, to, three, reach religious living in holistic nisus to the
Beyond. But then, four, religion is surprisingly harder than expected; we require a strange adult detour to
come back home to body thinking in story thinking. These four themes are body-thought through many
stories, some of which are argumentative. Thus this essay itself body thinks in story thinking.
Keywords: Body Thinking; Story Thinking; Religions; The Beyond; Children; Chuang Tzu
This essay offers two novel thinking-modes, “body thinking”
and “story thinking,” as alternative reasoning to analytical logic,
and claims that they facilitate understanding “religion” in the
Beyond. Both modes are “novel” only in academia today, for
both have been routinely practiced worldwide since time im-
memorial, and eminently exhibited in China for millennia.
Body thinking, story thinking, and religion make a threefold
synonymy. This essay is a vignette in story-thinking in four
theme-stages, one, body thinking primal is at our root, in, two,
story-thinking to catalyze religion, three, in holistic nisus to the
Beyond. But, four, religion is kid’s homecoming to body
thinking story thinking. Thus this essay body thinks in story
thinking kid-fresh
Body Thinking as Primal
“Body thinking” is thinking acts of the primal body, in
thinking, in body. First, we engage in the so-called “philosophy
of religion” that is a misnomer. This essay thinks story-way of
how fitting body thinking in story thinking is to religion our
ultimate living, which is essential, so this essay is significant. It
is natural to extrapolate from here to story-elucidate how essen-
tial body thinking story-thought is in all thinking, including
non-religious thinking, but this general theme requires another
essay. It should be thinking in religion. In “philosophy,” the
thinker is up in eternal logical canons to handle objects, but
“religion” is not an object but the ultimate beyond all, including
the thinker, who is judged. We must philosophize in religion as
religion, not as object; “thinking in religion” involves the whole
person thinking, to wit, body thinking.
All this revolutionizes usual “thinking.” Nicodemus, a high
Jewish scholar, offers his highest estimate of Jesus. Jesus
bluntly said he himself must be born again from above into a
new baby (John 3:1-8). “Anothen” (John 3:3) means both
“again” and “above” (Brown, 1966: p. 130). This is the most
detailed commentary on this Gospel. This revolution is total; it
is “body thinking,” whole body-life thinking, root-revolution-
izing objective manipulative analysis. Religion is ultimate, to
signal totality, to be body thought; philosophizing in religion is
body thinking. Actually, all thinking involves primal body;
“body thinking” is natural thinking. The radical “revolution”
mentioned here is really a homecoming to our original nature
shown by the authentic children. This point of adult detour back
home will be considered in the last section IV to end this essay.
This conclusion brings us to “body” thinking.
Moreover, I exist primarily as my body “primal total.” Sadly,
the West typically splits to separate “mind” from “body,” to be
“logically clear” as analyzing an object, split into parts (Spicker,
1970). Spicker (1970) surveys many Western views of the
“body” and Reeves (1958) portrays body as alive, but criticizes
no mind-body split, and even such a book is rare in the West.
Both scholars describe the situation, but do nothing on its
problems. Sadly, perceptive thinker Fuller (2008) still takes
“body” as empirical and physiological. Now, disembodied mind
is ghost without matrix, as dis-en-minded body is machine
without operator. But mind-only activity is empty; mindless
body is less than a useless machine. The human self must be a
mind-body union, but union of body-less mind and mindless
body makes “ghost in a machine,” unintelligible, monstrous.
Fuller (2008) has to insist on “biological body” as self-integra-
tive toward living well. Biological body is efficient cause act-
ing toward final cause and extended to the ultimate, whose
agent biological body is. There is no other way to describe the
biological aspect of religious spirituality. Thus his “biological
body” is no “mechanistic materialism” described here (Fuller,
In desperation, (German) idealism insists on mental logical
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coherence to create a cosmos. (British) empiricism insists on
physical perceiving as understanding separate from logical
coherence as ideas. (French) physical materialism sees the self
as a walking physiology. (Russian) Marxism insists on eco-
nomic fatalism. And endless wrangling ensues. The chaotic
debates are euphemized as “root metaphors” (Pepper), “organ-
ism” (Whitehead), “naturalism” (Santayana), “instrumentalism”
(Dewey), and so on, all originated in mind-body split.
In contrast, primal body is integral, to tend forward beyond
here now. Kids fight monsters; adults fight for dreams to fly.
Stories will soon be told of both. And then our body forwarding
absorbs pain. Freud’s mouth cancer prompted his writing. An
amputee feels itches in his leg-no-more (Merleau-Ponty, 1962).
My body thinks to survive even physical death (Chuang Tzu).
Chuang Tzu’s stories of Lady Beauty happily kidnapped by
Barbarian Chief “Death” (2/79-81), dreaming to be “butterfly”
fluttering between life and death (2/94-97), and a roadside skull
happily doing vast seasonal rounds (18/22-29), among many
others, come to mind. Primal body thinks alive to do wonders.
Once the mind-body split vanishes, our life world has no
separation of mental from physical, sciences from humanities,
understanding from explaining, rational from emotional, fatal
from free, spontaneous from contrived, private from public,
culture from nurture, etc. Body thinking is body-whole to heal
splits back to the wholesome whole self; here is the new world
of primal body alive. Body-homecoming must be behind
Cousins’ proposal to end civilization, to end its atomic destruc-
tion (Cousins, 1845).
In this world, we are back body-home, all of a piece dynamic,
alive. “How ‘all of a piece’ is my life now?” you ask. All right;
now, listen to this real story. My tiny Peter casually came and
dropped a bombshell, “Dad, I have three names, ‘me, myself,
and I’.” Wow! Isn’t it so? I can freely objectify “me” and re-
flect on “myself,” because I am alive as “I,” all of a piece. I can
then freely objectify things and be aware of myself with them,
inter-thriving. My Peter plays all this, body-full gutsy, body
thinking. “Gutsy” is “all of a piece” in me body-full, to be so
among myriad things.
In other words, in the primal body, “mind” is naturally em-
bodied in “body” that is en-minded. Mind thinks in body-ma-
trix, manifesting the total body thinking. Thinking is body at
work, timed ongoing all over, as the body is alive, ever growing
changing beyond here now. Body thinking sings life to dance
lifeworld, constantly changing beyond, as we change mind and
body growing dawn to dawn. We are all of a piece alive.
All this is thinking as body-acts heart-beating thinking,
breathing thinking, living-total thinking, constant, body-felt,
body-adjusting to itself and to its milieu, and such inter-ad-
justing cannot help but spread cosmically. Merleau-Ponty
(1962) punched out this body-cosmos connection in his book
Phenomenology of Perception. All this body thinking homo-
cosmic is an alternative to disembodied logic that analyzes and
splits what is already existent (not spreading beyond here now)
according to logical rules eternally set eternally valid.
The Beyond Negative
Interestingly, we think as primal body in negative way also.
All religions lie between two extreme religions, non-being
Buddhism and being Christianity. So, considering these two
religions would typify considering all religions. In Buddhism,
King Milinda came on an ornate cart for wisdom, only to be
bluntly “instructed” to be bodily radically deconstructed into
many skandha-elements, which in turn must be “awakened”
into vacuity that is what it really “is” (Davids, 1969). King
Milinda was told somewhat this way.
“You see your fancy cart, and take yourself as coming here,
for you think these wholes—your cart, you, and your com-
ing—are greater than their parts. But without these parts, these
wholes do not exist. So, only parts exist, and the so-called
‘wholes’ of cart, etc., do not exist. But, then, the parts are
‘parts’ because they are parts of the whole, and sinc e the whole
does not exist, ‘parts’ do not exist, either. Thus nothing exists at
And then, since no whole or part exists, none of their coming
or going takes place, and even being told such things and real-
izing these are told, are all illusions, for telling and realizing
and coming can happen only when wholes and parts exist, and
they do not. Nothing exists no-where no-when; meanings of
where and when depend on wholes and parts existing that are
nothing. All ceases in calm Bliss of nothing.” Such body-de-
construction is body thinking in a negative direction.
“But this approach commits the fallacy of composition, ar-
guing illicitly from the whole to the parts and then from the
parts to the whole, for the whole is not the parts,” we would of
course protest. Well, Buddha the Awakened One would then
calmly respond, “Your fallacy-talk is itself fallacious, deserving
of being deconstructed, for there exists no whole or part to be-
gin with.”
“All I did was to slide from the so-called ‘whole’ to the
so-called ‘parts,’ and slid back—I did not argue; I played with
argument, to awaken you that your ‘fallacy talk’ assumes that
wholes and parts are real, and this assumption is an empty
dream. Still, such playing with argument argues tightly in its
playing, as here shown. This meta-arguing by playing with
argument is beyond logical parsing. We call it ‘body thinking.’
When you are awakened from your ‘fallacy talk’ here, all turns
calm in Bliss of no bliss.” (Davids, 1969). That talk is the Be-
yond-all at the negative supreme.
“All this is confusing and bewildering to me. Give me con-
crete clues to body thinking, will you?” All right, I will concre-
tize this whole bit. Incidentally, the last section IV will consider
how to do body thinking ourselves. On how to do story think-
ing ourselves, we let body thinking come out; we try not to try,
and pack to simplify, to turn straightly seeing-through. Now,
here are three concrete clues to body thinking: describing body
thinking, contrastng with logical thinking, and spotting body
thinking. They are concrete as body thinking is; not doing body
thinking, we cannot be concrete. Logical thinking is abstract,
trying to disembody itself for “universal validity,” sadly in
One: Description of Body Thinking: As I shout on seeing
you, “Now this, at last, is the bone of my bones, the flesh of my
flesh,” that is the first body thinking in Eden (Genesis 2:23),
when I mean as I shout; I think bodily when I mean what I say.
I then see the mother focusing her whole attention on her sick
baby, as I think on you, focusing my attention on you present,
and missing you when not (Waley, 1938). I also intend as I
think of something; intention is idea, written in one character,
“intended-idea .” So, my flesh and bone, mother watching,
thinking on you, and intending idea, show body thinking.
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In the West, Kierkegaard urges us “to will one thing,” to
commit all life to that “thing,” as “purity of heart,” total body
thinking. This body-thinking sentiment is the core of “existen-
tialism.” (Kierkegaard, 1948). “Being merciful” is Jesus in
visceral pain, and Mencius’ whole-hearted pain unbearably
toward those in pain 不忍人之心; humanity is humane, as “I
hear you,” pondering on your situation. “Spanchnizomai, vis-
cera-pain” is used by and on Jesus alone (New Testament, 1997:
p. 693). It is not easy, though, and so people take short cuts,
and do not mean their words but chatter “for information,” in
half-hearted duplicity, uninvolved, to be “objective, respecting
your privacy.” Such situation leads us to contrasting body
thinking with logical thinking.
Two: Contrasts with Logical Thinking: All these easy routes
are neatly logical, arranging what goes on to make clean effi-
cient sense; body thinkers are erratic, wasteful, and insane.
Martha is busy preparing meals for Jesus their favorite visitor,
and cannot stand her sister Mary just sitting listening, doing
nothing. Jesus has to remind Martha that Mary’s total focus on
his soul-talk is the best welcome, in give-and-take of body
thinking “one thing needful” (Luke 10:38-42).
Similarly, “loving parents” is feeding parents to keep them
full, useless “respect ” satisfies no hunger! Alarmed at this
logic, Confucius alerted us that our parents would then be no
different from dogs and horses we feed (2/7). Our filial love is
much more than the logic of keeping our parents well-fed, but
this “more” of our respectful love cannot be logically calcu-
People’s struggles for rights are a nuisance as the dictator can
logically regiment them into use. The Utopia of “Erewhon,”
nowhere backward, is an idle dream when we can pound people
into parts of Hobbes’ “Leviathan.” (Butler, 1985; Hobbes,
1985). Kids idly wandering must be shaped by logical training
called “learning ,” says Hsün Tzu 荀子. Making love is
bothersome in casual sex among consenting adults. Aren’t all
these logical?
Mother’s touch is tough labor; onlooker gawking is easy.
Soulful listening is hard, useless; distant overhearing is clean,
uninvolved. Intensive look is laborious empathy; we just meet
by chance and talk. Thus the contrast between body thinking
and neat logical arrangement is alarming, significant.
Three: How to Spot Body Thinking: “But then, the above
examples show body thinking as involved with logical thinking.
How can we spot body thinking while logic is all over today?”
Its answer is not far. I act out what I think, but my act can also
show its lack. “Observe his wherefore, perceive his wherefrom,
discern his whereat! How can he hide himself? How could
anyone, indeed?” Confucius sighs (2/10). Such intensity shows
body thinking. Body thinking spots body thinking. Confucius
was body thinking, contagiously turning into the greatest
pedagogue in China.
A Roundup
“It is clearer now, but what is body thinking?” All right, I
will round up all above with my tiny Peter’s quip, “I have three
names, ‘me, myself, and I’.” First, I deal with “me,” brushing
teeth, wearing clothes, in I-It. Then, I discern “myself” elated or
tired. in I-Thou. Finally, the “I” do them. I cannot see the “I”
doing, as I cannot see my seeing in “me” or feel my feeling in
“myself,” but bask in the I-Milieu. So, “I have these three
names.” This is “bod y thin ki ng ” P et e r l iv es.
Thus only in this body-thinking-way, Confucian-positively,
Buddhist-negatively, can we approach the Beyond, in “relig-
ion” in which we think whole, bodily. Now we must see how
body thinking expresses in story thinking, via which religion
appears on the ultimate horizon.
Story Thinking as Twofold Catalyst
Story thinking catalyzes in body thinking and religion, to
shape both to join both in the Beyond. Telling stories performs
to elucidate these catalytic activities; we would now think
story-way to understand story thinking. Not in syllogistic logic,
story-thinking thinks in concrete story-coherence of living bod-
One: Body thinking is ingrained in human nature, as we be-
have fittingly each moment to milieu shifting as we move. Sto-
ries then grow from inside into life-shape (Welty, 1978). As life
thinks, story thinks to tell of it. Our body thinking goes as our
heartbeat rhythmic constant, to appear as thinking in talking, to
make story.
Body thinking thus appears as story thinking, as my tiny Pe-
ter tells me his story, “Dad, I have three names, ‘me, myself,
and I’,” intuitively body-thinking as he is story thinking aloud,
to provoke my body thinking that I put down into a story. Thus
story thinking catalyzes body thinking to appear as thinking
primal body way.
Two: Story thinking in the primal body appears as storytel-
ling to link my thinking to matters beyond me. No Western
philosopher can avoid thinking about mind, sensation, and ob-
jects, to cover both thinking subject and objects thought; sub-
ject-object covered is body thinking, to cover the cosmos that
includes thinker. My body thinks body-wise to think cos-
Difference connects; no difference, no connection. But not-
ing difference must not miss connection. To do both, we must
play one against the other, playing arguments on both sides
together, dia-logically. Body thinking is dynamic dialogue
between bodily partners, I with me, and I with others, human
and non-human. The baby plays with her fingers and sucks her
thumbs, and then mumbles, “I’ll marry you, my tea-cups,”
while my body dialogues with my doctor. Dialogue is in-
ter-thinking dia-logicizing between bodily partners, beginning
at me talking with me, called “thinking,” as Socrates noted
(Campbell, 1980, Theaetetus, 189a-190).
These dialogues take place in time to cohere into stories.
Story thinking dialogically links me to myriad things and to the
cosmos, in three modes, fables, parables, and metaphors.
Chuang Tzu (27/1) says of “words lodging” home in things,
“paralleling them,” to “tilt to” them to beckon us in. Lodging
words 寓言 are metaphors, paralleling words 重言 are par-
ables, both are tilting words 卮言 as fables to tell (fari) stories
of this world beyond this world. Such beyond-nisus of story
thinking is turned into awesome logical complexity of “anal-
ogy” (Swinburne, 1986). It is possible to still raise logical ob-
jections to it; objections catalyze logic to go beyond.
All these wording-modes are story-words telling fables to
parallel as parables our living, to metaphor beyond. Existence
stands out ecstatic, as it “story ex-presses” itself. Such story
thinking delights us, enlightens us, to ex-press our body think-
ing to myriad things soaring Heaven and Earth and beyond.
Story thinking brings us beyond us homo-cosmic, and beyond.
Ecstasy standing-out can be tragic. A young man gunned down
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20 school kids and then killed himself, to die with them; he
stood out as ahungered after companions. Kids are great death-
companions—to Herod, Hitler. Kids are most precious and
easiest to kill, to kill their killers (Matthew 26:52), the young
man and Herod with messy death (Richardson, 1996). God is
here blinding dark, wailing with so many Rachels at Ramah,
Connecticut, for that was why Matthew recorded it (2:18;
Brown, 1993). Three terrible points are here, though.
One, anything can kill, car, medicine, even drinking water.
But they are not meant to kill. Guns are meant to kill, as gunner
is gunned down. Scorpion bites, that’s what it does; gun is
man-made scorpion. Two, gun-control opponents have been
blocking effective laws and researches against guns. These acts
loudly tell of their guilty conscience. They are effective because
they are powerful. Three, but why are they powerful? They
must be supported by the “silent majority,” we ourselves. But
why do we support man-made scorpions? Do we have death-
instinct in us? I am my enemy. I shiver. Luckily, Chuang Tzu
has Chapter 30 on sword, expanding its cutting efficiency to
cosmic dimension of cosmopolitalism.
Fables, parables, and metaphors symbolize—throw together,
syn-ballein—what is beyond me into me. Story thinking
thereby makes me aware that the Beyond enables me to live on,
as Mom nurtures her Peter living Mom. As I am aware of living
the Beyond, I come to be aware of the Beyond, and this aware-
ness is “religion.” It is thus that story thinking in fables, par-
ables, and metaphors symbolizes to catalyze religion.
Three: “You have been touting the Beyond, but I don’t see
it.” Of course the Beyond is invisible; it is beyond seeing, even
logically. “The Beyond is out of this world,” you say, but
amazingly, lifeworld is part of the Beyond. Existence exits
“here now” that goes beyond now here. God is larger than life
that is larger than logic, so God is larger than logic (1 Corin-
thians 1:18-25). It is declared by Paul the profound scholar.
Swinburne (1986) is intent on “coherence of theism,” which is
logically incoherent. Defying this obvious situation put him in
straitjacket out of theism that is open, beyond us. “Future” and
“omni-”-words are words that are open; Swinburne’s (1986)
logic kills both; he does not know that “rigour” and “clarity” he
claims are much subtler beyond logical analysis.
The Beyond
Elucidating the Beyond story-tells how story thinking shapes
body thinking into religion, all tacit. Jesus shows so; he “de-
scended into hell” of all honors, atrocities, gently smoothing the
mess. He then came alive silently, asking, “Children, have you
any food?” baking fish and bread at lakeshore (John 21:5, 9).
He came back alive as mother to support us stealthily, as we
think we live on our own! “Matters achieved, people all say,
‘we self-thus’,” Lao Tzu mumbles (17).
The Beyond is invisible but essential to the not-beyond. Liv-
ing in a house, we see no builder, whose imprints are yet eve-
rywhere. People gather to listen to Jesus, who said, “Look at the
farmer sowing seeds.” They now see the farmer because Jesus
pointed. He is tacitly invisible in the farmer.
The father, alarmed, used upaya-expedients to trick his chil-
dren out of the burning mansion 火宅 (Sudharmapundarika,
Chapter Three). Father Buddha’s calm is now ours as he is
invisible in it. Buddhas unbeknown are walking on street. The
Beyond hid is essential in daily ongoing; those in the Beyond
spread wings soaring beyond, running not faint. Berkeley (1992)
denied “matter,” for it cannot be perceived. Matter en-
ables—“supports”—perception, so matter cannot be perceived,
as Hume cannot perceive the “I” who perceives. Berkeley
shows how natural science can go on without “matter” (pp.
126-138); common folks also tell Einstein that they can go on
without his “relativity” they cannot perceive. Of course they
can go on and, so can science, as if I can perceive without me
perceiving! But “me perceiving” is Berkeley’s “God”; he ban-
ishes matter to let in God. His move tells how we need the Be-
yond, if not as matter, then as God. Tommy is right saying he
“can do anything”; he is all free, tacitly aware that he is free
because he is under Mom and Dad’s invisible, story-thinking in
body thinking. Body thinking, story thinking, and religions are
at one alive.
“All this is so bewildering, too abstract to me”; I hear you,
my pal. Do you want to see all this actually? China has long
been practicing primal body thinking homo-cosmic, in story
thinking in history and literature, poetic narrative, factual fic-
tive. China’s ideograms portraying sense and sound of matters
is congenial to body thinking in story thinking; they are “body
language” to cover bodily sounds and sights, personal and pub-
lic, intimate and homo-cosmic, all expressing primal body. But
body language is invisible, not in dictionary. Two perceptive
descriptions in the West of Chinese writing are Creel (1037)
and Watts (1975).
Body-language originates principles, “sounding to cover
sense 音以蔽義” by “voice inevitably being-with intention
必兼意” and “form and voice to meet intention 形聲會意.”
Sounds and shapes of Chinese ideograms echo to reflect shape
and sense of what is intended written. Sincerity is expressed
to make the world, says The Doctrine of the Mean
. Body language is thus hidden at the base of all languages.
In this tacit way, China is religious, sensitive to the Beyond
as “heaven ,” intensely feeling the “decrees of heavenly
destiny 天命,” chanting “Heaven sees from my people natu-
rally seeing, to hear from my people naturally hearing,” Men-
cius reports (5A5). Still, “heaven” is all-silent, visible yet no
one knows it, as the tacit Beyond. Thus, this story of China
shows how story thinking catalyzes body thinking into religion.
In short, body thinking is by nature expressive, inter-thriving
through time. I self-exist as body thinking, by body-acting with
non-self as my alter-ego. Body thinking cannot help but express
itself “bodily,” not contrived, separative-analytical, to wit, not
“logical,” but naturally in the body’s self-expression, story-
Story Thinking, Dialogue, Naming
Body thinking expresses coherently in storytelling to story-
understand, dia-logic. Socrates in marketplace dialogically
thinks back and forth to enlighten one another; thoughtful sto-
rytelling-dialogue begins at myself thinking (Theaetetus 189e-
190), and all his thinking is put in dialogues by his student
Plato dialoguing with teacher Socrates, as Confucius teaches in
dialogues. In fact, all good writings consist in dialogues back
and forth through history.
“But Socrates has tons of logical analysis; it is not dialogue,
is it?” Well, then logical analysis of points at issue is part of
story-thinking, continued in later philosophical systems, and
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story is dialogical. “But you said ‘logical analysis’ is wrong.
Now you say analysis is part of dialogue.” I mean analysis is
wrong as an overall mode of thinking. Analysis can be part of
an overall flow of thinking, by distinguishing points to clarify,
to unclog thinking flow; still, analysis can tear down to destroy
when used all over. Analysis is a sharp scalpel; be careful how
we use it, so as not be overrun and get hurt. Besides, analysis
trains us nimble for life-complexities, but its rigid one-track
exercise 24 hours ruins our healthy subtle sensitivity. I asked
my tiny Pete r to fetch me a wa tch, and he could not find it right
before him. We then found that it was because he did not know
the name “watch.” Name is the story that body-thinks dialogi-
cally to bring about the named. Story thinking names to bring
out body thinking in lifeworld.
Story thinking thus begins body thinking to begin religion to
create the world. Hsün Tzu 荀子 obliquely noted that naming
brings about reality, saying (in 正名篇 22/21-29), Name has
no fixed reality, it [name] is contracted to designate reality.
Contract stabilized common is called ‘real name,’ etc.” Sadly,
he was shortsighted, confined to sociopolitical control of nam-
ing he called “righting name 正名,” to seed disastrous dicta-
torship of Legalism 法家 in his students Han Fei 韓非 and Li
Ssu 李斯. As the primal peoples have been practicing for ages
(Frey, 1995; Jest, 1998; Nerburn, 1999), words naming in story
thinking create the world; section III on religion will explain
this point. Sadly, the deep basic Christian story-theology is
nowhere, yet. Body thinking and religion via story thinking are
the rich synonymy of my being in the Beyond; the Beyond
incarnate is so rich that the world cannot contain its stories, as
John said to end his Gospel stories that cannot end.
The Beyond
Thus it is that story thinking tells stories primal-body way, to
extend beyond to the Beyond. “Religion as ultimate” is, not
living at the limiting situation such as death, but living in an
unlimited open horizon of the Beyond, beyond death. The Be-
yond is understandable as beyond understanding, as “God” is
God beyond God (Tillich), “Nirvana” is “nothing” beyond ne-
gating negativities, “eternal life” is life beyond life in time, and
so the Ultimate is the last beyond all “lasts.”
“In other words, when we try our last best, do our very worst
to death, it is when the Beyond begins, right?” Wow! Very
good, my friend! God is here, devil is here, Nirvana is here, and
kids are here in all playful bliss bottomless sky high, beyond!
We who live the Beyond “shall mount up with eagle’s wings,
run not weary, walk not faint,” gloriously Isaiah concludes
Chapter 40; we trudge on with eagle-wings, ever beginning
underfoot (Lao Tzu 64). We begin to begin, to yet to begin.
There exists a beginning; there exists yet beginning to be a
beginning; there exists yet beginning to yet to begin to begin”
(Chuang Tzu 2/49).
It is kids in the Beyond resilient, as ends are endless (Dewey);
the Beyond is even instrumentally apposite. “This statement is
a surprise!” Look. “Ends are endless” says that this proposal to
do, this end, is for the sake of the next proposal, next end, and
so on; here, “for the sake of” is what goes beyond endlessly,
and this thrust to the Beyond is religion.
The proposed ends in religion are often unexpected. Jeremiah
(25-29) proposes, one, never fight the big bully Babylon, keep
the status quo, and two, clean up inside Israel, religiously (rid
of Baalism) and morally (be just, care for the helpless). Bully
Babylon is Yahweh’s rod to cleanse Israel. All this is surprising.
Babylon is an enemy to oppose, Baalism is nature-cult, and the
helpless are to be used. Jeremiah’s proposal is divine prudence
beyond reason! Religion is instrumentalist beyond Dewey.
Instrumentalism is life’s logic timed to the Beyond the
time-stream flowing beyond here now, while here now. Here
we “trudge amassing half-steps to reach thousand miles” (Hsün
Tzu 荀子 1/18), as “Thousands mile walk begins underfoot”
(Lao Tzu 64), for “In leveling the land, even depositing a load
makes advance; I’ll go ahead,” insists Confucius (9/19).
Now Dewey, Isaiah, Hsün Tzu, Lao Tzu, and Confucius are
all here storytelling the Beyond. The Beyond is instrumentali sm,
Taoism, Confucianism, and Judaism rolled together unlimited,
soaring up to the Nirvana-horizon invisible far, as Father Bud-
dha the Awakened patiently trains his son lost in poverty, step
by step, into his vast riches, to vanish in the Beyond (de Bary,
1972). Again, all books in the world cannot contain such enor-
mous stories, as John’s Gospel on Jesus cannot end. Jesus
shakes hand with Buddha, standing opposite, being to non-
being, inter-smiling.
Buddha and Jesus guide us to “religion.” As our access to the
Beyond, religion is beyond numbers, one and many, as “relig-
ion” is one name yet exists in fact as many, as religion is the “I”
writ large. The “I” is claimed by me, “I am that I am,” one only,
and claimed by many “I”s, to make many “here now 當下” to
extend the “I” changing, “I will be that I will be,” ever in sea-
son out of season. What “I am” consists in how “I will be,” as
how “I will be” composes what “I am” (Noth, 1962: pp. 43-45).
The “I” is a beyond-nisus ever alive.
Lao Tzu sighs (58), “O woe where weal leans! O weal where
woe lurks! 禍兮福之所倚! 福兮禍之所伏!” He mentions
“woe” first; we must be cautiously bravely optimistic, as woe
and weal interchange in life’s seasonal rounds. “Don’t you like
the weather? Wait a minute” (Mark Twain). We must take the
train of days, living their rhythmic beat, lest we run, hurt, after
the train. Our gutsy common sense is primal body thinking at
life’s story thinking, shifting in season out of season.
Thus, “day to day are good days, 日日是好日” (Zen Bud-
dhism), to wit, “Day to day is new, again day new, 日日新,
日新” says King T’ang’s bathtub (Great Learning
3), as
time flows to clean days, as his bathtub cleansed his days till
ours. So, naturally, “Day to day are good days” (Zen); days
dawn as tiny Peter and Tommy guide us forward. It is religion
cleansing inside out.
All these stories tell us that tiny children are far ahead of us,
growing beyond themselves to guide us going beyond to throw
body thinking beyond, and static logic that examines and ana-
lyzes what stays cannot handle our primal body being thrown
beyond, ever pro-jecting forward. Body thinking must tell sto-
ries to allude beyond itself to the Beyond to point to what is
beyond story-told. Storytelling adopts fables to tell and parables
to throw fabled stories beside what is pointed to. All religions
are filled with fables of parables to ferry us over, to metaphor
beyond what is actually said in this shore.
Religion thinks bodily story-way in fables and parable to
metaphor us beyond to the holy. Heaven and earth join in story
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thinking, via which the Beyond is understood in the not-Be-
yond, and not-Beyond in the Beyond. Bodies are married in
heaven, to create heaven-blessed children, as the Beyond is
time-thrust of the body, as stories tell. This excitement is
played lustily in children shouting fighting growing, as their
stories tell. Story thinking is kid-excitement joining the Beyond
to not-Beyond; the joining is religion.
Religion as the Beyond the Ultimate
We now sum up our harvest before going to religion with a
new approach, body thinking in story thinking. Body thinking is
thinking holistic, natural, rooted in our primal body acting out
thinking, as an alternative to logical thinking separating think-
ing mind from unthinking “body,” and separates thinking from
objects thought, with an unnatural mind-only surgical logic;
body thinking bodily follows what is happening, to understand
it by not dissecting it but discerning it, bodily meeting 體會 it,
as China says.
Story thinking then naturally thinks body thinking story-way.
A story is told in a coherent sequence that is yet open to twists
of events story-conveyed. Thus story thinking develops sur-
prising turns, playful. Such story thinking as coherent, open,
and unpredictable is an alternative to analytical system-building
closed in on its network, examining and arguing about the ob-
jects thought about.
Religion is at home expressed in body thinking story thought,
as religion is authenticity “with all your heart” of being (Jere-
miah 29:13), meditating into Buddha-Enlightenment (Black-
wood, 1982). “Verses 12-14a: The essence of the prophecy is in
a sentence. Not priestcraft and ritual, not the minutiae of the
law, not residence in a holy city, not pride of lineage, but the
dedicated heart is the way to God.” Andrew W. Blackwood Jr.,
Commentary on Jeremiah (1977), Waco, TX; Word Books,
1982: p. 207. This is a perceptive book. So religion requires
body thinking as primal thinking at our root, and root-thinking
is authentic. The authentic religion is irrelevant to manipulative
analysis. Besides, religion of the Beyond must be conveyed by
metaphors of bodily stories of parables and fables beyond liter-
alism logic ally parsed.
Story thinking catalyzing body th inking is a fitting “vehicle”
to the various “vehicles of Buddhism,” to carry us from this
world-shore to the Beyond. Stories are thrown-beside (para-
ballein) the point beyond them as parables, to symbolize reli-
gious truth by throwing-together (syn-ballein) our self with the
Beyond. Body thinking story thought is a fit vehicle body-alive
for religion our access to the Beyond alive.
“All this is too far out and abstract for me.” All right, let us
begin at the concrete beginning. Random matters pop in and out,
the dark and the bright come and go. Such brute chaos is
unlivable, and so it must be named, for upon naming, “things”
appear as “such and such” named stable. Naming-appearing is a
naming activity of my body-telling of stories. Story thinking
awakens body thinking, to realize that it has been the “I” that
has been creating the “I” and the not-“I” world of things, by
naming them as one mode of story thinking.
Thus, in the beginning is the “I” who names, in body think-
ing and story thinking, to create the world, and in the beginning
that begins this “beginning” is the Beyond-all in religion that
creates body thinking story thinking. A version of Western
“nominalism,” insisting that things are only names, is a fallacy
teetering toward an extreme. Name is an indispensable catalyst
to existence (as Peter’s failure to see the “watch” tells us), but
not existence as such. Messenger cannot replace her message.
Luckily, “nominalism” usually refers to the status of universals,
not of common things (Reese, 1999: p. 525). Tiny Peter’s three
names of “me, myself, and I” must first be named by the Be-
yond named in religion. Thus, body thinking in story thinking
reaches religion. Now we cam be guided by body thinking in
story thinking toward understanding religion.
The Beyond-Nisus
“Toward” and “beyond” that often appear in the above de-
scription express the timed thrust of body thinking in story
thinking, constantly changing beyond status quo. Time goes on,
that instant going beyond this instant, as existence exists by
standing out of itself toward others. Such is body-story-thinking
that is action of the “I” objectifying and dealing, constantly
body-active beyond here now.
The “I” in body thinking is by nature religious, changing be-
yond-itself, thinkable only in stories. And then, to realize so
leads the “I” to realizing that all existence is cosmically reli-
gious, as “I” exists by standing-out toward the non-“I,” heart to
heart (as Jesus’ “good shepherd”), and breath to breath (as with
trees here with me). And so, if the “I” is religious, then the
myriad things are religious, constantly changing beyond here
now as the “I” does. Now, we have two strange twists here.
The first twist is this. In famously taking “religion” as opium,
Karl Marx warns us that the usual “gods” of conventional re-
ligions are too small, unwittingly chiming in with the Anglican
Bishop Phillips who translated the New Testament into today’s
English (Phillips, 1960). It was a quiet bombshell and, for all its
popularity, its explosion was not as dramatic as Marxism.
Marxism spread as Communism to have had its rise and fall in
so many nations so dramatic, historic, and worldwide. The
so-called “death of God theologians” also take humankind to-
day as having grown out of the traditional gods, but these theo-
logians simply declare “no god,” not replacing the dated gods
with a new one as Marx did, and petered out. Dietrich Bon-
hoeffer’s “adult Christianity” tends to the similar fate. Marx
warned the world that such small gods would lull us totally
decrepit to death, as opiate does us. Marx offered his passionate
“religion” of economic Utopia where the belly is the base-god
of our body-living. This story tells of Russian Marxism.
Here is the second twist. Sadly, this Marxism itself rotted
into manipulative tyrannical oppression of proletariat laborers,
to whose welfare the Marxist Utopia arose to devote. This op-
pressive outcome was now worse than the opiate of religion, as
George Orwell laments in Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen
Eight-Four (1949). Every “communist nation” operating on the
basic “people’s belly” must take to its heart the lesson of this
story of historic rise and fall of Communist Russia.
Now, such learning from history is of course story thinking
toward religion that constantly goes beyond itself to the Beyond,
as history always goes beyond its original story, quite surpris-
ingly, as religion does. Body thinking in story thinking is im-
bued with the beyond-nisus alive, to elucidate religion, as re-
ligion ultimately supports primal body thinking in story think-
Religion elucidates body thinking this story-way. Christian-
ity and Buddhism, two extremes of being-religion and non-
being religion, urge us to revolutionize our total life so radically
as to be born again from above, so as to even envisage the
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Other Shore of Nirvana and the divine Kingdom. Both religions
with all religions constantly use story-thinking in fables, par-
ables, and metaphors to symbolize this urgent truth of revolu-
tion essential, ultimate, and bodily. Discursive theorization in
Buddhism is not for its own sake, as in Western philosophy, but
is a symbol to Buddhist truth, in fact, used as Buddhist fable
and parable. Buddhist theorization is religious.
Mind you. We have learned all the above from tiny Peter’s
wise “I have three names, ‘me, myself, and I’.” Religion says
that our dealing objectively (“me”) and reflectively (“myself”)
must be totally overhauled into the new “I” reborn from above,
as Jesus says to the scholar Nicodemus (John 3:1-8), and all
this while, our tiny Peter is playing outside, for he is already in
that “new ‘I’” in need of no new birth.
The Nicodemus-story reminds us of Shen-hsiu 神秀 who
poetized that we must sweep dust clean to attain enlightenment,
while Hui-neng 慧能 responded that there is no dust anywhere,
so need no-sweeping to attain enlightenment, and got the offi-
cial seal to become the sixth patriarch of Ch’an Buddhism
(Hui-neng, 1978). We are impressed with such a story, unaware
that Zen turns contradictory when turned into “Zen school.”
“Zen” is open vacuity unlimited, but “school” closes itself
into a set system of doctrines and institution to exclude “oth-
ers.” Hui-neng had to leave the monastery at once, to avoid
disputes in lethal jealousy. His move, typical of “Zen school,”
opposes Zen all-open, when tiny Tommy saunters in, totally
devoid of such adult-contrived contradiction. He was just out of
a martial arts session where he closed his eyes to “clean” his
Upon entering our room, Tommy just grabbed a tiny bag of
sugar-for-coffee. “Aha!” we say, “He cleared his mind only to
steal sugar.” But he did not steal. The sugar is there for anyone
to take, and he just took it, after undergoing the motion of
“cleaning the mind” he does not need, being totally pure always.
He took the sugar and ran out to play. He is so clean he needs
no cleaning. He cleans us! He is now playing over there, far
ahead of Hui-neng stunned, vainly staring at the dust he-no-dust
is kicking up. All Zen follows him.
Look. Illiterate people are kids with odd fixations; kids have
no fixation, far beyond them. Moron Charlie charms us pre-
cisely with this quality of Tommy taking sugar to run out to
play, dustless freely kicking up dust, so messy so clean, in Al-
ice’s Wonder Kingdom absolutely Zen divine (Keyes, 2005).
The Zen Kingdom of God is all Tommy’s, in need of no rebirth
or mind-cleaning. Tommy is right here as our Zen master, and
he could not care less about all such stuff. He just wanted a tiny
bag of sugar to run out to play, nothing else. Wow! Zen is right
here now, with Jesus smiling beside.
Playing with Arguments
Peter and Tommy are so happy playing, and playing can
never be seriously argued about. Our argument here, if any, can
only be played with, to chime in with Peter and Tommy playing,
to match up to them so happy. “How do you mean, to play with
arguments?” Well, to begin with, play and taste cannot be ar-
gued about, as they are activities of the prime body heart-beat-
ing, body thinking.
And so, then, it is quite natural to play with argument-bits in
story-bits, as kids always do (Wu, 1998, 2014). “Do we have to,
though?” Well, Peter is actually embodying and presenting
authentic religion. What is amazing is that Peter does all this
without even trying. He just could not care less! That is play-
ing naturally authentic. His unity of natural-play-authenticity
makes it an adult-imperative to play with arguments in story
thinking, as he is always at play thinking and saying things
Cash Value of Play
“But play is so frivolous. I se e no cash value in it at all,” y ou
protest. But Yes indeed, play has an enormous cash value. Play
is unique, indispensable, and important in serious praxis alive.
Here is a telling example. Nothing is more important than being
alive, and so it is most important to probe what being alive
means. And yet, amazingly, we cannot do so. While alive, we
must probe the unknown (being alive) with the unknown (while
alive), and we can no longer probe being alive when dead. The
most important “being alive” is beyond probing by serious
If serious thinking cannot handle being alive, then story
thinking eminently can show being alive, for being alive freely
tells stories, as kindergartners so alive toddle out show-and-tell.
They always play, and free storytelling plays with stories, and
“argument” is a storytelling. They play with story-bits to show
and tell, to show being alive. Not a long story that digs into
nerves, but story-bits hopping to tell various life-vignettes, in
story-thinking alive. Chuang Tzu the master-teller of story-bits
began Chinese aesthetics.
Chuang Tzu plays with bits of tall tales, soaring and
roaming 逍遙 all over, in Chapter One, “逍遙遊,” and then
plays with argument-bits , up and down among all things
, in Chapter Two, “齊物論.” Such play-dancing with a
cleaver with an ox of things feeds at our life-prime “養生主” in
Chapter Three, playing with this story of living, precisely in
cleaver-suffering. The player hops and skips, to touch and go.
The player touches the spots essential, to pique our curiosity.
We want to ask, and he is already over there, skipping to an-
other essential, then to another. Gabriel Marcel is the only
Western philosopher who dramatically practices such life hop-
Such is playing with story-bits in argument-bits. We are
stunned staring far behind at the playful dusts unsettling, left to
ponder the scene, ever yonder, open, far ahead, continually
provoked to move on. All these movements by the player’s to
spread to ours express our wonder wandering, to spell being
alive. Thus Chuang Tzu is deep frivolous alive, egging us alive;
we forget he is 2500 years young, still hopping playing, moving
us, right here now. Thus it is that being alive is at play, and
playing shows being alive, to draw us in alive, to continue play
as Peter is playing.
No serious thinking can pull off such a stunt of presenting
being alive so playfully profound, for being alive is at play,
spontaneously presenting alive. Nothing is serious to the play,
as no one alive seriously tries to be alive. Being alive is elusive
because it is so simple. Oscar Wilde told the truth, saying, life
is too serious to take seriously, as kids serious about playing
not serious.
“What do you mean by ‘simple’ here?” Well, being alive is
playfully scattered, one day at a time, hopping from this mo-
ment to next, connected without rhyme or reason, to create new
rhyme and reason. Creation cannot be planned; it just happens.
This “just” is elusive and simple, and alive. No one says, “Look
at how alive I am!” as no one has ever thought of such show-off.
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“Simple” is “no show-off,” just alive. That is body thinking
presented in story thinking, in frivolous play, freely, simply.
Religion displays this fabulous freedom frolicking in the
“feasts of fools” since medieval days, as kids dancing all over
with Muslim dervishes swirling around (Cox, 1969). All reli-
gious sages are laughing Buddhas clowning, as Jesus blesses
children, cuddling them to announce that their Father’s perfect
divine Kingdom is theirs so wobbly imperfect, and so choco-
late-soiled “out of line” so frivolous.
Jesus’ announcement so astonishes three Gospels as to record
it identically (Matthew 19:14; Mark 10:14; Luke 18:16; John
3:3). Yet these kids could not care less about such serious bit,
being “serious” only about shouting, and playing and “fighting
monsters” for fun. All religions adore children so “out of
line”—“Can’t they quiet down a bit?” granny says, as she can-
not help smiling herself—ever having fun, thriving in primal
body thinking as they story-think monsters, to frolic and fight
in their own story-way. This is where the Beyond is, also smil-
Things False
Now, fighting monsters for fun is of course having and deal-
ing with “things false,” and such dealing is extremely signifi-
cant. The Wright Brothers were accused of toying with false
illusion so impious, for “If we were meant to fly, God would
have equipped us with wings,” people proudly reasoned. Yet
the Wright Brothers persisted in defying the accusation, and
metal is routinely flying today. We now realize that God has
equipped us with wings after all, the wings of “1% inspiration
and 99% perspiration” that no bird has. But we know so today
because the Brothers persistently toyed with their “false
dream.” The orthodox view of their days is now turned
It is strange. The Wright Brothers did not learn from their
failed “experiments” to quit dreaming to fly; they did not adjust
their “hypothesis” to fit their failed experiments, whatever ad-
justing means here. They simply persisted in their “false
dream” to fly. They ended up dying for their “impossible
dream,” but their latecomers took over their dream, and now
metal is flying in the “friendly skies,” due to these “crazy peo-
ple” fighting their favorite “monster dream” to fly!
“But the Wright Brothers did adjust their ‘plane’ to begin to
fly, and later followers improved on their plane to make today’s
great planes to routinely fly. Science does make progress.”
Paradoxically or not, “progress” is seen retrospectively; what is
said above is made prospectively. So you are right, pal. What is
said above as valid is in tension with what you say now, also
valid, and this tension makes our many-tracked story-thinking
on our life, alive forwarding to the Beyond.
“Now, would this formerly right view now turned ‘wrong’ be
turned right again, though?” Great point you made, pal! We
must leave open this possibility! After all, we cannot physically
fly without going into that metal piece, “air plane.” The earth is
flat in our view in grassy field, no matter how the picture from
outer space “proves” otherwise. It all depends on the perspec-
tive and the gestalt.
Thus the notions, “false,” “failure,” and “wrong” are part of
our thinking-gestalt today, our “mythology” as much laughable
as the accusation on the Wright Brother in their days, Newto-
nian cosmology before Einstein, and Mesopotamian cosmolo-
gies millennia ago. Mythology for mythology, we humans must
need all these mythologies to shape and live lifeworld. My-
thologies are our “monsters” hated in others, loved in ours!
What is important here is to realize this fact and be liberated
from our holier-than-thou chauvinism of proud “cutting-edge
modernism today.” This chauvinism is as disastrous as “witch
hunt,” “heretic hunt,” and “crusades,” all of which have re-
sulted in the Auschwitz ovens that burnt Hitler away with his
victims. These disasters were not too long ago, we must recall
and tremble. We simply must recognize “monsters,” ours and
others’, and “fight them in fun” as kids, and with enthusiasm as
the Wright Brothers. Monster-mythologies are worth fighting
for and against, in fun!
“You use ‘monster’ in several senses. What is ‘monster’?” A
good point you raised, pal. I adopt the word “monster” by fol-
lowing the unconquerable children who simply love to use it
and love to fight it. “Monster” is so monstrously beyond us that
we do not understand it. Yet, sadly, “fighting monster” is not to
our adult taste. We hate what is beyond us, for we want to tame
all objects and control them under our safe handling. In contrast,
kids simply love what is monstrously beyond them, and love to
fight them without controlling them at all.
We take other people’s strange hang-ups as our hated mon-
sters, but we also have our own pet ideals we do not quite un-
derstand, and we love to fight out for our monsters as the
Wright Brothers fought for their monsters flying Supermen.
The Wright Brothers are incurable kids who teach us three
points. One, we must dream beyond dreams, to have monsters.
Two, we must embrace beyond embrace, to “love monsters” as
kids do. Three, we must “love to fight” monsters, to tackle and
struggle with them, for and against. Monsters are ours and oth-
Such fighting with monsters beyond is religion, as Jacob
fights with an unknown monster till dawn, to be granted with
“Israel,” a new person, fighter with the Beyond his monster.
God loves a prayerful fighter, as prayer fights the Beyond,
Forsyth assured us (Forsyth, 1916). The mysterious story of
Jacob fighting with the unknown, to be awarded with the pres-
tigious new essence, “Israel,” is in Genesis 32:24-30 (Miller &
Miller, 1959). Religions are where monsters are beyond our
wildest dream, “mythologies.” Our rigorous science is today’s
mythology, as ancient “mythology” we laugh at was strict sci-
ence of ancient days. All fights between science and religion
are futile in myopic fixation of misplaced view on chronology.
In other words, “fighting monsters” for fun is powerful,
thanks to which we fly metal in the “friendly skies,” split grains
of sand into cheap nuclear energy, and go out into outer space
unlimited, all because of our kid-play with monsters. Kids, play,
and monsters religiously create the brave new world far ahead
beyond our wildest dreams. A Berkeley researcher Alison Gop-
nik’s (2012) “Why Play Is Serious” seriously misused “serious”
in this context of kids playing. “Serious” should have been
Three points are here. One, it is thus that kids and their
make-beliefs do lead our adult way ahead. Escher and books on
imaginations are our “fun kids today” waiting to explode any-
time into novelty (Escher, 1999; Hofstadter, 1980; Page &
Ingpen, 1987; Manguel & Guadalupi, 1999). Two, mythologies
and monsters belong to religion, to create the new world, as
children fight their monsters for fun. Three, Escher and the
people of imagination are in an odd kid-minority often laughed
off as frivolous, out of line. Section IV will consider this sad
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Monster, Holophrase, Religion
Now here is another stunning story of another tiny Tommy,
as only a story can tell of his astounding world-event. Tommy
suddenly met at zoo a tall-necked yellow monster so huge!
Instinctively pointing at it, he shouted, “Doggie!” It is his
holophrastic spurt packed with his body-full surprise. Everyone
broke out laughing. “Can you say ‘giraffe,’ Tommy?” Mom
giggled. “Giraffe” or no, that fantastic “Doggie!” was his
world-monster. “Monster” is his all-time favorite, provoking
Tommy’s body-thinking body-storytelling, in “Doggie!”
“What is ‘holophrase’?” Juicy “holophrase (whole-tell)” says
many sentences, typically expressed by kids who typically do
body thinking, in wonder poetry (McArthur, 1992). Sadly,
McArthur (1992) takes the child’s holophrases, to which all
languages come home, to which all poetry aspires, as belonging
to a juvenile stage of language development. Thanks to holo-
phrases, poetry is powerful punchy, hitting straight at the point,
as kids always do. Tommy’s “Doggie!” shouts that he is a
holophrase one-worder our “primal poet” body-full. But then,
trees are bare under the wintry sun to show rugged meaning of
raw vitality brightly shining; trees are body thinking story-
telling, holophrase-powerful.
“Empirical body” is disembodied, inert, and unthinking. In
contrast, Tommy’s totality of wholesome primal body com-
prises flesh and mind interpenetrating; Tommy is Peter’s “I.”
This whole primal body thinks most naturally radically, more
than any supposed disembodied “mind” does. Tommy shouts
out from his root. How could any one resist Tommy the primal
poet shouting “Doggie!” at a giraffe?
When stories are told, thinking expresses beyond itself to be
con-firmed by the hearer beyond and the milieu beyond. In his
shouting, Tommy shows that body thinking inevitably ex-
presses the body language of story thinking. Tommy’s “Dog-
gie” tells the story of his stunned confrontation with the Be-
yond-him. Tommy loves a monster he calls a weird “doggie” so
big and strange beyond him. He loves it lives it, to access the
Beyond-all beyond all. Thus Tommy takes to the religious ul-
timate monstrously bigger than he as fish takes to water far
bigger than fish.
How does Tommy come to take to monster-religion?” Well,
it happens as he lives in his primal body. “Doggie!” is his story
thinking expressing his body thinking whole. Any who lives
whole, body thinking, immediately body-accesses things whole,
big beyond Tommy; his buzzword is “big.” The “BIG” opens
his eyes wide as he meets monster so big! He is fascinated and
loves the monster to live the Beyond, to lead us to “religion” so
Our primal body does not survey analyze what is known, but
thinks beyond what is known in stories, fables, parables, and
metaphors, to symbolize the Beyond, and story thinking in
symbols is religion to the Beyond. Worldly trivial stuff is all
parables of the Beyond, its miracle. My excellence points to the
Beyond; my pain perfects the power of the Beyond. Tommy
jumps shouting “Look! I can do anything!” Tommy is the tini-
est mustard seed growing up into the tallest tree to home birds;
the tall monster doggie-giraffe comes to nibble at its leaves;
tiny Tommy is primal body-metaphor to the Beyond.
##Religion as Matrix so Dynamic:
“You take body thinking story-thinking-way to climax in the
Beyond. Conversely, though, religion makes sense of body
thinking in story-thinking, as religion makes sense in body
thinking, wouldn’t you say?” Wow! This bombshell beautifully
turns around the table homo-cosmic! You are right, pal. Relig-
ion makes body thinking; religion all-embraces, a motherly
matrix of body thinking that story-thinks.
Christianity is an example. John declares (1:14), “The Word
became flesh”; “became (egeneto)” is “created.” The primal
thinking—as “word”—created the primal body our flesh, as
thinking now thinks as body, while body naturally body-thinks,
Jesus is the Word made flesh, to become our body-root, to
revolutionize Judaism by embodying it. Jesus said to Jewish
scholars, “You have answered rightly” (Luke 10:28), and urged
us, “Whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do.”
(Matthew 23:3); he accused them thinking without embodied
deeds. Their thinking is “unclean whitewashed tombs” (23:27).
In contrast, Jesus was impressed—incarnated—by body
thinking of some non-Jews, a Syro-Phoenician lady (Mark
7:26-30), the cruel Roman centurions, and despised Samaritans,
lepers, beggars, publicans, harlots, and so on who body-thought.
Religion is the matrix of body thinking; Jesus lived body
thinking as he prayed for those who crucified him (Luke 23:34),
and died for them. His resurrection had all his cross-scars; he
embodied the whole body thinking of all humans, with all their
unsightly scars.
His followers later risked life proclaiming, “We have no
other name whereby we are saved” (Acts 4:12) than this name
Jesus, the self-emptied embodiment of all human life-thinking,
to save the world into body-integrity. He cannot be made into
our fetish-idol, for he is crossed-out empty on the cross; no one
can idolize the criminal condemned to the cruelest death. So,
other religions freely take Jesus in as one of their prophets and
bodhisatvas, for Jesus is the Word made religious flesh.
Allowing these religions to take him in as one of their proph-
ets, Christ silently supports them, redeeming their dross. Res-
urrected with cross-scars for them, Christ tells them to shape up,
and, having taken him in, they cannot rid of him, for he is now
their thorn in the flesh. Such is a logical mess of the Gospel that
restores us to integral body thinking; all religious bibles are
logically messy, in body coherence re-creating us. All body
thinking story thought in parables, fables, and metaphors is
stock in trade of religion. All philosophies in religion are par-
ables to religion.
Now, music is part and parcel of religion, and music is story
thinking wordless. Religion is home to music that shakes all our
body to tune us to heal us; when tired of living world-wearied,
we must come home to music. So we tell ourselves, and this
telling practices story thinking. We have just story thought on
body thinking to revive, restore and be reborn into ourselves, all
in music.
All musical activity is religious quite amazing. We are now
sustained with eagle-wings, mounting high on “the wings of
song” as Mendelssohn composed, saying that music is the pri-
mal language, direct beyond roundabout languages. Mounted
on wings of song, we run daily not weary, we walk not faint, on
and on beyond “here now.”
Our running and walking are our eagle-soaring miles high on
the ground. We are now music-on-wings humming life singing
lifeworld onward. If all this music-dynamics is not religion,
religion is nowhere. Religion, music, and story thinking body-
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thought are the trinity of the Beyond. This trinity is kids alive
music-playful; different religions are kids shaking hands play-
ing exploring together what is unknown beyond.
Sad Adulthood
Sadly, we timid adults dare not soar in Tommy’s humming
adventure beyond, but proudly prefer to survey, analyze, and
examine what we already know, and even despise soaring ad-
venture as “kid-stuff,” insisting that adventurous fables, par-
ables, and metaphors are puerile nursery rhymes, and “Kids
need to grow up!” We shrink back crawling “examining practi-
cal status quo,” locked in logical analysis and precision, impos-
sible in the ongoing novel unknown. We are no longer able to
spread kid-fresh wings of primal imagination, mounting up
high with monster-eagles.
We mature out of religion, munching on “God is dead.” “The
Beyond” is now not in our life-inevitable “five year plan” soar-
ing to the Beyond; we try to deny what we cannot live without.
Our adult sophistication goes in separative duplicity, no more
child-pure in power all of a piece.
Our daily living has no see-through innocence of Mozart’s
wind chamber music, as spontaneously lived by Peter and
Tommy. Their body thinking gets cramped in our silly sophis-
tication. We must be reborn into Peter and Tommy, to live in
Peter’s “three names of the self” and live in monster-religion as
Tommy naturally shouts. It is our sad adult situation that leads
us to the conclusion as follows.
Surprising Difficulty
“Now, how do we practice gutsy primal body religion?” This
is an important query; we meet a surprising difficulty, as com-
ing home to living in body thinking story thinking requires a
strange detour. This detour, radically strenuous and tragic, is
part and parcel of religious living. This is because full-bodied
riches of “Doggie!” are dispersed in later schooling in discur-
sive analytical disputation, as in Western logicism; we grow up
monstrous under “tiger mothers” all over the world. Oddly we
grow less and less mature!
Later, aware of being in the wrong somehow, our decades of
struggling finally reach the wine of thick wisdom, in Tommy’s
full-bodied “Doggie!” shouted at the monster giraffe, with
powerful implications unlimited. Still, Tommy’s shout primal
immediate is a long way off from our “adult sophistication.”
We are lost far, away from our home, our Peter and Tommy;
life must take a long journey home to the immediacies of the
primal power of child spontaneity.
Here shines the alarming truth of body thinking in story
thinking at human root in the religious ultimate, in awestruck
detour told in the story of, e.g., “Go away, Lord! I am a sinner!”
mumbled by Peter Jesus’ fisherman disciple, awestruck at the
enormous catch of fish. A Buddhist story tells of the “lost son”
who avoids his unknown father’s splendor by living far in
shacks of the squalid poverty district (de Bary, 1969). Luke
5:1-11 has the story of fisherman Peter.
All these stories tell that the intimate natural is the goal of
struggling asceticism, as life-revolution, as painfully shown in
Jeremiah’s tragic stories. The revolution is radical, requiring
being reborn from above through elusive wind and flowing
water so ordinary, John tells (3:1-8). The extraordinary “Dog-
gie!” must be reached in the common daily routines practiced
by body thinking as story thinking.
All this detour-story is told to underscore how precious the
root of humanity—body thinking in story thinking—is, so
common as the highest essence of all religions. The present
essay is one such detour, itself an exercise in futility, full of
adult-shame of explanations, at the feet of dearest Tommy and
Peter. Our confession is that our essay journeys, following their
body thinking in story thinking, their “holy of holies.”
Still, this essay on body thinking, story thinking, and religion
has obviously been delightfully written in kid-innocence, wish-
ing that our dear readers have no less enjoyed it, to continue to
yarn their soul-full body-stories beyond here now to the Be-
yond, playful spanking new as children at dawn. All of us have
just begun to begin anew, afresh world without end. We all are
embraced in sheer bliss of the Beyond of those shouting kids.
What We Can Do an d How
“What can we do, after all this? You have not told us how.”
Oh, sorry. Here are two big points, our adult-difficulty and its
resolution. Only after appreciating our difficulty can we look
for resolution, right? These two points should enlighten us on
how we should live into the joys ineffable of the religious be-
yond, via our gutsy body thinking story-thought lived by kids.
Our Adult Difficulty: Buddhism points us to “No Door Pass
無門關” as our way out into the blissful Beyond. This Pass is
tough (Ding, 2002: p. 1085). But such historical occasion is
bypassed here, in line with Buddhist vacuity of all. Confucius
alerted (6/17), “Who can out, not from door?”; if we have “no
door,” how can we go out? Still, the Pass to go out into the
Beyond exists, door-less. To enter this Pass, we must not try
without even trying, for here is “no door” to try entering.
To change metaphor, we are to be all here now 當下 (Zen),
in self-so 自然 (Lao Tzu 17), tathata as such (Sanskrit), “I
am” (Exodus 3:14) (Johnson, 2009, p. 322). All this is in life’s
river enjoying tiny fish enjoying swimming, as Chuang Tzu did
to conclude his chapter, “Autumn Flood 秋水.” I am present at
present. Presence stays not staying, alive as kids.
Zen says, “Day to day is good day 日日是好日” at dawn
anew. “But how could it be?” we retort sadly. Everyday gives
headaches; nothing is good in routines. Saying days are good
rubs against our headaches to worsen days. Doesn’t Buddha tell
that life is a sea of suffering and a house on fire 火宅? Still,
Jesus nods to Buddha, saying, “Look at the sower sowing. The
kingdom of God is like a smallest mustard seed sown grown
into the biggest tree.” “So, what else is new?” we wonder. Jesus
would say, “That is the point!” Nothing is new, as all things all
over are parables to the kingdom of God.
But then “all things” obvious and common trouble us. We
can look only at something specific, but not at “all” at once
specific (all thing are thing) and not specific (all things are all
over not-specific). Jesus said, “Those with ears, hear! Those
with eyes, look, and see!” We all have ears and eyes, to hear
and see, but we do not see or hear this “all”, or much less “all”
as parable to this kingdom of God. We are blind with clear
seeing eyes, the “ s e eing blind 明き盲,” as Japanese says.
Nothing is more frustrating, if not insulting to our sanity,
than this odd difficulty. All this “all things” so common is so
hard, for all this “things common” is so easy, and therefore it is
so hard. Thus we have just appreciated our difficulty; it is so
strange a difficulty we all encounter, everyday, on everything!
Our Resolution: Now we look back. We met difficulty be-
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cause we adults “try” in the deep water of life. We struggle in
water, scrabbling for a foothold nowhere. We struggle for air,
and we sink, about to drown. We give up and stop trying, and
lo, we float. It is life’s law of reversal so tough; we must not try
without even trying, and this “must” is what is tough, for
“must” applies to trying, not to not-trying. We must stay not to
hate, not to love, not to be indifferent. But how could we do all
that all at once?
We are hopelessly hemmed in, right here now, “not try, not
not-try.” And then, suddenly, we realize that our difficulty
comes from being adults who turn simple matters impossibly
complex. Look at how convoluted the whole bit has turned!
Adults contrive! Look at how needlessly complex the world of
commerce and politics has become. Now any single aspect of
our adult world is beyond any PhD; here is no more “Renais-
sance man”! Our trouble is ourselves being adults.
Luckily, however, the children never contrive. And they are
everywhere, and we must care for them, as we cannot help but
care for them so irresistible. As we take care of them, we are
privileged to watch them. They trade pebbles, peek at a tiny
flower hidden there, and pick up a precious leaf underfoot.
Wherever they look sparkles fresh. Inborn curiosity of the new,
and snuggling up into the familiar, they are in a spell to gaze at
“everything” that is rare and cherished. Children thus parent
their parents into “children” with them. We must never try but
simply let them parent us into their child-pals, and their clumsy
play pals.
“But how can we do it? How could all this happen? How
could we adults let wobbly kids parent us into kids?” Here we
go again, pal, shooting all complex questions typically adult!
The answer is simple. We intently watch them, and see—we
have eyes and we see now—that children are the “no door
pass,” for they do not try, to freely float anywhere always—
through the no-door Pass. We now watch these children to de-
scribe how they live—by telling their stories as they live
story-thinking way. This story thinking in storytelling is the
only way in which we can understand them.
They do not pretend to be other than themselves, so they
pretend always everywhere to fight monsters they do not even
know—for fun. Fun is fun playing. They spit out wisdom as
they breathe, in huffing and puffing fun doing body thinking
story thought, as if nothing is the matter. And indeed nothing
really mat te r s, and that is what really matters.
Look at them. So wobbly, they stumble to the ground, get
hurt, wail, and Mom binds their wounds—and they bounce
back in no time, only to play again, shouting and stumbling
again. That is playing for fun, as falling and wailing are part of
fun playing. We can now hear them shout, we now see them so
messy and yet strangely coherent, all of a piece. They all make
sense while they are tottering so playful messy!
Look at them. They point at monster-giraffe and shout,
“Doggie”! They point at their self and mumble, “Dad, I have
three names, ‘me, myself, and I’,” as if they know all these
names. And my silly adult-contorted question, “Tessie, how
come fish has no umbrella?” is overrun at once by my grand-
child of two’s riposte absolutely valid, “Cause fish has no
hand” She is of course so confident right!
Writing these stories already cleanses my adult heart, gig-
gling. And then, while we are still giggling, they run out and
shout and fight again, all so topsy-turvy, until they run all-tired,
and drop into Mom’s lap and turn unawares so tender and so
messy, and Mom whispers, “Tommy’s sleepin’”; WWII has
ended. Mom just loves these kids. How could she help it? How
could we help it?
Their simple body thinking all-totally simply disarms our
adult complex duplicity. We just cannot help it. “Cannot help
it” is the open sesame to the “no door Pass” that needs no open
sesame, all because kids are so pure and all of a piece, not try-
ing without even trying. After all, we do not try to be alive as
we are alive, do we? The Pass is alive, and admits only those
alive to pass through who do not try to be alive.
In contrast to their absolute purity, we adults are duplicitous,
dead and “unclean” to borrow Jesus’ apt word (Matthew 23:27).
Let us take just one adult example so unclean, conscious
self-negation so logically twisty. “I am a liar” can be claimed
only by one who does not lie, and then he has the license to lie.
“I am greatly clumsy” can be claimed only by one astute and
not-clumsy, and then he can be clumsy while astutely not-
clumsy. So, self-claimed liar does and does not lie, as self-
claimed Mr. Great Clumsy is clumsy and not-clumsy.
The great Zen master, Mr. Suzuki 鈴木, names himself
“Great Clumsy, Daisetsu 大拙” to cut his own Zen-throat. All
clever Zen-twists border on risking such fatality, such as “the
sound of one hand clapping,” even “moon in a dewdrop,” to
cite two random examples (Tanahashi, 1985). Cleverness kills
Zen, the child. They are the show-off, “Look how humble I
am!”, and write subtly. Such subtlety is unclean. None likes
unclean people too slippery to befriend. Being thus logical
twisty is adult-contrivance, to drown us in the self-referential
quagmire, far away from the sunny child of the Beyond.
Kafka realized in The Trial, this adult court that judges us as
above, and this “pass” to the court, are set up to vanish, as adult
cleverness ceases, difficulty vanishes. We are then “here now”
floating in life’s river, frolicking splashing with tiny fish and
kids. All the Kingdom belongs to us kids “for nothing,” where
Buddha, the Awakened smiles, and we are all awakened with
him and Jesus into kids, who could not care less about such
stuff. We kids love to pretend to fight monsters beyond, for fun.
Fun playing is body thinking in story thinking in religion, here
now homo-cosmic, in the Beyond.
All are here, and the “All” is open, all-powerful and all-wise,
as Truth is open, Beauty is open, and Good is open. Dream is
here dreaming, and Monster is here to fight for fun. Story
erupts to fascinate, and the world is created spanking new. We
are short of words, so we call all this, kid’s Wonderland of the
Beyond. Our gods are always too small here. They are all our
pesky fetishes, always dated, threadbare, rotting, and ready to
All this while, our familiar Mom is watching us. So many
things we do not know, “but Mom knows, right, Mom?” we
look up. Mom is nodding and smiling. Such is the kids’ world
all topsy-turvy, all coherent beyond coherence, brimming burst-
ing without ceasing, cracking dawn into new dawn crimson shy
and soft, body-fascinating, story-breathless, religious-rhythmic,
all parable-throbbing to the Beyond-all.
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