The Meaning of Immortality
Here Michael Winn defines the classical Daoist understanding of immortality in very American terms: freedom of choice. But his notion of freedom is noticeably different from conventional popular culture. Freedom does not mean consumer choice but seems to operate at a deeper spiritual level that speaks to the authenticity of the person. He describes immortality as the freedom to change ones form, to transform oneself into another way of life, another form of being. This notion of transformation is certainly consonant with the themes of the classical Daoist tradition which has emphasized spontaneity or authenticity (ziran). Michael, however, speaks of it in terms of a theory about the evolution of the universe and the emergence of self-conscious forms of life that have the capacity to determine their own destinies. By so doing he grounds his view of Daoist immortality in the natural world.