Abstract Westphalian international relations (IR) entrenches us in dichotomized deadlocks like ‘China’ versus the ‘West’. To break out, we need to emancipate IR spiritually, not just analytically, politically, or even ethically. By this, I mean an open mind and heart when encountering difference through others. Epistemic compassion epitomizes this process. Two pre-Westphalian traditions provide a means and an example: advaita monism and daoist trialectics. 1 Introduction Let me begin with an anecdote. Here is a review from the New York Times on Prakash Jha’s 2010 film, ‘Raajneeti’ (Politics): Mr. Jha has said he based the dynastic family at the film’s heart on characters from the epic ‘Mahabharata,’ and there are also parallels to the Gandhi clan (generation Sonia). But Mr. Jha’s real touchstone seems to be ‘The Godfather’ (Saltz, 2010). The reviewer just didn’t get it. Because she knew nothing of the Mahabharata (c. 900 BCE)1 all she could see were Jha’s occasional, filmic gestures to Francis Ford Coppola’s series on mafia politics in 20th-century America. She completely missed the Mahabharata’s key teaching: that is, power comes to naught without a cosmic sense of morality behind it. ‘Raajneeti’ for her thus turned into a cheesy, Bollywood derivative of a great, Hollywood classic. Not simply bad or misled, this review reflects a history of ‘epistemic violence’ (Spivak, 1988) perpetrated on the world, amounting to an ‘epistemicide’ (Santos, 2016). Five centuries of colonialism-imperialism have killed knowledge not only in the global South but also, I add, the global North. The field of International Relations (IR) sets one example. Like the New York Times review, IR suffers from three epistemic blinkers: (1) it fails to access how millions outside of the Westphalian World2understand power and politics; (2) it cannot benefit from ancient insights, whether these come from the Mahabharata or elsewhere; and (3) it remains ignorant of itself, especially the field’s complicity with hegemony and arrogance from it (Ling, 2017). Epistemic compassion can deliver us from such myopic violence. Like learning a new language, epistemic compassion opens worlds by crossing boundaries previously thought immutable. More than seeing anew, epistemic compassion helps us to feel anew.3 No longer trapped in the ‘tragedy’ of power politics (Mearsheimer, 2001), we can appreciate, instead, the joy (Penttinen, 2013; Särmä 2014), beauty (Ling, 2014b), and potential of discovery that our world-of-worlds can offer (Ling, 2014a).4 This includes Interbeing (tiep hien in Vietnamese), an update by the contemporary monk-teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh (1998), of Buddhism’s ancient tenet of ‘co-dependent arising’ (pratītyasamutpāda in Sanskrit); it refers to a mutuality between Self and Other such that ‘you are in me as I am in you’ (ni zhong you wo, wo zhong you ni in Mandarin Chinese). To get a sense of how-what-why, I draw on two pre-Westphalian traditions: advaita monism and daoist trialectics.5 These offer a means of and rationale for worldly reconciliation. Not a religious conversion, epistemic compassion simply requires learning from others with an open mind and heart; consequently, it produces a very different understanding of and relationship to world politics (Ling, forthcoming). This article concludes with the implications of epistemic compassion for a post-Westphalian, post-dichotomous IR. A caveat. This article itself requires epistemic compassion. In it, we cross multiple borders: epistemic, linguistic, religious, geographical. This task may seem arduous at first but it promises a magical, transformative journey. The alien Other, it turns out, expresses an intimate element of the Self – and has always done so. Only its lack of recognition in the field, until now, will appear strange. In this way, the reader will experience the exhilaration, not just challenge, of epistemic compassion. Let me begin with the current discourse on ‘China’s rise’ (Ling, 2013). It exemplifies Westphalia’s blinkered approach. Not only does it pit China against the West but this discourse also marginalizes and alienates the rest of the world, as if it didn’t matter. The latter becomes mere backdrop for another Great Game, 21st-century style. Bombs thus hiss from a bright, noonday sky in rural Pakistan as much as bullets shatter a serene, autumn’s eve in Paris. 2 China’s rise: implications for IR Today’s China still disturbs. It may no longer sponsor anti-Western revolution at home or abroad, and has transformed, instead, into a bastion of neoliberal capitalism for almost forty years. But the People’s Republic still unsettles the West mainly due to its integration, or lack thereof, into the ‘international community’ (Economist, 25 January 2018). What exactly, many worry, is or will be China’s role in world politics? To Liberal Westphalians like Barry Buzan (2010) and G. John Ikenberry (2011), a rising China could destabilize or consolidate the status quo, depending on the willingness of leaders in Beijing to cooperate with the Western-led, liberal world order – and how much the West can insist on or entice such cooperation. To Chinese Westphalians like Yan Xuetong (2011), China will invariably alter the status quo regardless of leadership inclinations. The country’s demographic and territorial size, not to mention its historical import, will make a difference. Another source of convergence comes from Classical Westphalians and Chinese Constructivists. The former, like Henry Kissinger (2011), propose that China and the West should just get together, like the Pope and the Kings of Europe did in the 16th-century. They divided the world among themselves, then ruled accordingly. Stability and order ensued – at least for the principals involved. (That such comity initiated five centuries of violence and brutality against those not privy to the bargain seems to have escaped Classical Westphalians – or they don’t care.) Chinese Constructivists like Qin Yaqing (2010, 2011, 2016) and other members of the ‘Chinese School of IR’ (Zhang and Chang 2016) make a slightly different argument. Chinese norms and values, they believe, will naturally interact with the world to effect changes that remain, as yet, unanticipated. Together with the West, Qin suggests, China will form a new global order. 2.1 Critique Neither camp questions categories like ‘China’, the ‘West’, the ‘inter-state system’, or even the ‘Westphalian state’. All presume that states will remain the central unit of IR analysis, functioning as self-enclosed, self-interested units of power. Even Qin Yaqing imposes a statist–nationalist frame onto a philosophical and normative tradition – yin/yang dynamics – that had no such intention or purpose in the first place.6 Despite the systemic dynamics that he himself has introduced, anything outside the China/West matrix remains an afterthought or a playground for the powerful. Yan Xuetong puts it more directly: so far, only ‘small fry’ like Vietnam and the Philippines have complained about China’s moves in the South China Sea – meaning there is no “real” opposition from a major power like the United States, Europe, or Russia (Huang, 2016). So China has nothing to worry about. (He conveniently omits China’s standoff with Japan in the East China Sea.) Both camps also unite in their patriarchal proclivities (Ling, 2016c). Whether it’s Brotherly Love under Confucian tianxia (All-under-Heaven) or a more perfect, machine-like Artificial Man in Hobbes’ Leviathan, the Chinese School and their Westphalian counterparts partake in what is effectively a gentleman’s club. Some, like the English school, may appear in top hat and morning coat; others, like the Chinese school, may dress in changpao magua.7 But all revel in a common, hypermasculine camaraderie: that is, they regale one another with clever chatter or perhaps a zinger or two while being served, silently and efficiently, by those whom they will never know or even acknowledge but whose labor and resources make their ‘club’ possible in the first place. Not surprisingly, these hypermasculine theorists discount anything smacking of the non-masculine (e.g., postcolonial-feminism), non-heteronormative (e.g., queer theory), and especially non-secular (e.g., ‘gods and spirits’).8 There is no room in the IR club for such ‘distractions’. Herein lies the nub of Self-delusion in Westphalian IR. History has shown, time and again, that society’s so-called ‘servile’ and ‘inferior’ classes can make new worlds despite generations of racism–sexism–imperialism entrenched by hierarchy and privilege, colonialism and imperialism (Kataneksza et al., 2018). As Andean activist Humberto Cholango declared to Pope Benedict XVI in a letter in 2007, ‘we [the Andean people] are still here’ (Cholango quoted in Cadena, 2010, p. 335). Despite centuries of control, if not genocide, the people of the Andes – like other feminized, colonized subjects throughout the globe – have survived and they did so by ‘learn[ing] how to merge our beliefs and symbols with the ones of the invaders and oppressors’ (Cholango quoted in Cadena, 2010, p. 334). Such is epistemic compassion.9 I turn now to advaita monism and daoist trialectics for how–what–why. 3 Advaita monism and daoist trialectics: connectedness and compassion 3.1 Advaita monism Most cite Shankara (c. 8th century BCE) for articulating advaita. It relates to but differs from two other branches of the subcontinent’s vedas (‘knowledge’): dvaita (dualism) and vishishtadvaita (qualified monism or holism). The concept of Advaita (literally meaning non-dual or non-secondness) pre-supposes a monist epistemology that…ties the perceiver (subject) and the perceived (object) together with a globe marked with ‘single hidden connectedness’ or Brahman (Shahi and Ascione, 2015, p. 2). From this basis, Shahi and Ascione construct an advaitic-monist model of world politics. It suggests an ‘ever-transient’ but ‘perpetually connected’ global system (Shahi and Ascione, 2015, p. 15). Just as ‘theorist’ and ‘theory’ fuse into an ultimate reality encompassed by Brahma so, too, advaitic-monist IR would highlight ‘an unbreakable and irreversible “micro–macro linkage” or ontological nexus between diverse individuals, nation-states and the world…’ (Shahi and Ascione, 2015, p. 15). They conclude: The intellectual realization of ‘connectedness’ can make a powerful case for reinterpreting diversities in political identities, thereby creating new ethical space for condemning divisive domestic, international and global politics (Shahi and Ascione, 2015, p. 15). I applaud this articulation of an advaitic-monist IR. It brings us closer to a world politics beyond Westphalia. Dichotomies like ‘China’ versus the ‘West’ begin to dissolve. Advaita monism’s dynamic, perpetual connectedness alerts us to the ties that bind even when conflicts and contradictions seem to pull us apart. Accordingly, our analysis of China and the West cannot abide by IR conventions like the three ‘levels of analysis’ (Waltz, 1954) or ‘structure versus units’ (Waltz, 1979). We need to consider how all the ‘constituents of the globe’ (Shahi and Ascione, 2015, p. 15) interrelate and interact. Even if national governments may quarrel, various actors (‘individuals,…classes, communities, cultures, peoples’) as well as the context in which they operate (‘ecology and the world’) still have a mediating impact, ‘reveal[ing] the hidden connectedness across diversities’ (Shahi and Ascione, 2015, p. 15). Yet, this intellectual and heuristic agenda, as Shahi and Ascione (2015, p. 15) underscore, remains an ‘unrealized intellectual quest’. It compels further exploration. I could not agree more. Nonetheless, I raise a cautionary note. We need to resist falling into the Cartesian trap of highlighting advaita monism in contradistinction to its two partners in philosophy: dvaita dualism and vishishtadvaita holism. Analytically, each branch of thought could not be without the others. Note, for example, how people live their lives, demonstrating the fluidity between these categories fixed by Western social science. I focus on three cases, in particular: darsana,10dharma,11 and ayurveda.12 The first two show how advaita–dvaita–vishishtadvaita cross epistemic borders between the divine and the mundane; the last, the body and the mind. All three link the individual with the community, the environment with the cosmopolitical. These underscore humanity’s undeniable thirst for spirituality, not just ethics. Epistemic compassion thus takes place. 3.2 Darsana Worship of the goddess Durga induces darsana. An enactment of advaita monism, darsana facilitates a spiritual exchange between the deity and the worshipper, her community, and the cosmos. To begin with, Durga embodies dvaita dualism by bearing multiple personas, guises, and genders. These underscore her totality, as encapsulated by vishishtadvaita holism. As consort to Lord Shiva, Durga represents the deity-as-couple but, in her fiery mode, she also presides as Chandi; elsewhere, she takes on the figure of a loving mother. Anjan Ghosh (2000, p. 295) notes Durga’s magic: [T]he very act of worshipping Durga elicits dialectical reflexivity: Darsana or gazing upon the image of the deity has a special significance in Hinduism, for it is not a passive gaze. Just as the devotée gazes upon the image the deity also gazes upon the devotée and there occurs an ‘exchange of vision.’ As it is believed that the deity is in the image, this exchange of vision enables the devotée to absorb the shakti (power) that flows from the goddess’s unblinking gaze. In this way the people in the village who come to view the image of the goddess are blessed by her powers. The Durga festival (puja) itself demonstrates the totality of advaita–dvaita–vishishtadvaita. Originally from Calcutta’s Bengali Brahman caste, the puja has now spread to other communities. ‘In multi-ethnic neighbourhoods (paras)’, Ghosh (2000, p. 298) writes, ‘Muslims, Christians and dalits (untouchable) have also participated in the organization of the puja…transform[ing] Calcutta during the pujas into a heterotopic [outside-the-normal] space.’ 3.3 Dharma13 The Swadhyaya, a religious group from India, personify the social ideal of dharma (‘devotional duty’). The Swadhyayis, Pankaj Jain (2009) observes, enact their dharma by planting and nurturing ‘tree-temples’ even on land condemned as barren. At Vruksh Mandir Temple in Gandhidam,14 for instance, 1,500 trees now thrive with a variety of species, including medicinal herbs and vegetables (Times of India, 2002). Yet, the Swadhyayis disavow environmentalism or any such modern (that is, instrumental) ideology. ‘Ecology is not our concern’, one respondent insists. ‘Environmental problems are due to industrialization and the solution lies beyond Swadhyaya’s activities. Swadhyayis are not environmentalists!’ (Jain, 2009, p. 306). Rather, spiritual oneness motivates Swadhyayis, ‘I feed the plants not to obey my father,’ an iconic character in the Swadhyayi religious pantheon states famously, ‘but I love and feed them [as] my own brothers’ (quoted in Jain, 2009, p. 310). Like Durga worship, the Swadhyaya movement creates a space for outside-the-normal social relations. Muslims and Hindus have planted trees in one another’s burial/cremation grounds. No greater sign of respect and consideration could there be from one community to another. And no greater indication is there for the mutual embeddedness of advaita–dvaita–vishishtadvaita. 3.4 Ayurveda Nonduality–duality–holism also manifests in India’s medical tradition, ayurveda. Initially practiced in South Asia only, ayurveda has now spread globally as the benefits of this mode of healing become more widely recognized. Ayurveda comes from two classic texts: Charaka Samhita (hereafter ‘Charaka’, c. 3rd–2nd-century BCE) and Susruta Samhita (c. 3rd-century AD). Since the latter primarily concerns surgery, I focus on the former for ayurveda’s main principles, norms, and practices. As with advaita–dvaita–vishishtadvaita, ayurveda originates from Brahma. From the Void where all begins, a mutual interplay between the masculine (purusha) and the feminine (prakrti) produces the world dynamically, constantly, and transformatively. Yet, ayurveda remains grounded in the everyday: ‘Ayurvedic texts relied upon images derived from the plant kingdom, with networks of veins on a leaf, the rising of the sap, and milky exudations from resinous plants, providing models for the body’ (Zimmerman quoted in Warrier, 2011, p. 82). Ayurveda links the environment’s ‘five elements’ (pancamahabhutas) with one’s five physical senses: earth (smell), water (taste), fire (sight), air (touch), and space (sound) (Van Loon, 2003, p. 21). A healthy person, the Charaka proclaims, could inspire even the crops to thrive with ‘great endowments’ (Van Loon, 2003, p. 15). Contrastingly, transgressions against Nature/Brahma like these cited below signal illness and disease in the individual as well as the general environment: [C]hurning the tops of mountains, churning of trees, producing high tides in oceans, overflowing of the lakes, counter-current in rivers, earthquake, moving of clouds with sounds, showering of dew, thunder, dust, sand, fish, frog, snake, alkali, blood, stone and thunderstorm; derangement of six seasons, non-compactness of crops, complications in creatures, replacing the positive factors with negative ones, and release of clouds, sun, fire and wind which bring about the end of four ages (quoted in Van Loon, 2003, p. 41). Ayurveda prescribes yoga and a good diet for a healthy life. So too does it advise an enlightened spirit. Because life emanates from an essential vitality, energy, or force known as prana or jiva, illness (including unhappiness) ensues when an imbalance disrupts or blocks this life force. Healing begins when the prana/jiva is stimulated and released so it could resume flowing. Good health requires balancing the spiritual with the physical, knowledge with enlightenment, so the whole body or system could operate naturally and organically. For instance, ayurveda aligns the seven ‘energy vortices’ known as chakras. These integrate a person’s health with enlightenment. The chakras register from the base of the spine to the crown of the head; each connects a part of the body to a specific color, symbol, element, sense, and purpose (Rama, 1998). The fourth or heart chakra acts as the linchpin: it connects the bottom three chakras, mostly concerned with one’s physical well-being (safety, sexuality, nourishment), with the top three chakras, which center on spiritual realization (creativity, intuition, cosmic consciousness). Illness breaks out when a lower chakra (e.g., need for security) conflicts with or blocks a higher one (e.g., achieving cosmic consciousness), leading to a systemic imbalance. Elsewhere, I show the links between ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine, zhongyi (Ling, 2016a). Each has contributed crucially to the other over millennia.15 Indeed, Buddhist monasteries served as clinics of advanced medicine in the ancient world. Rather than repeat that discussion here, I highlight the epistemology common to both ayurveda and zhongyi: trialectical healing. The subcontinent knows this tradition through sāṅkhya, among others; in East and Southeast Asia, yin and yang (Ling, 2014a). Both help Zen Buddhism reach a trialectic of non-duality with duality. Like health, enlightenment requires a trialectical-third beyond the physical and the individual: that is, an ‘awakened wisdom and selfless compassion’ (Hori, 2003, p. 6). Now, let me introduce trialectics in yin/yang terms.16 3.5 Daoist trialectics The Daodejing (Classic of the Way) posits two ontologically equal opposites – yin (the female principle, colored in black) and yang (the male principle, colored in white). Each faces the other with internal entwinements in tow: that is, yin-within-yang, yang-within-yin.17 Graphically, an S-like border differentiates the white sphere-yin from the black-yang. Their internal entwinements show up as a white dot in the black sphere, and a black dot in the white. Daoist yin/yang relations thus encompass simultaneous interaction between the two principals and their internal entwinements.18 Together, these account for continuity and change, connections and conflicts, masculinity and femininity, duality and non-duality.19 Systemic health, by extension, requires balance among contending, opposing forces through their mutual embeddedness. Water exemplifies the dao. ‘The highest efficacy’, the Daodejing quotes Laozi,20 ‘is like water’ (Ames and Hall, 2003, p. 87). Endowed with inherently transformative capabilities, water can turn from hot to cold, soft to hard, or calm to stormy at a moment’s notice. Water also swishes in a multi-layered, multi-dimensional milieu. Flowing from centers to margins, depths to surfaces, and back again, water dwells in places ‘loathed by the crowd’ as well as loved by it (Ames and Hall, 2003, p. 87). Despite being a porous, malleable substance, water can break rocks. ‘The meekest in the world/Penetrates the strongest in the world’ (Laozi quoted in Thompson, 1998, p. 17). The dao, accordingly, never discriminates between the yin-female principle and the yang-male principle. Each has its time, place, and circumstance. Water thus reminds the powerful and the weak alike not to presume too much. Power seems eternal – until it is washed away, flooded by the undeniable life-force that is water. It evidences, in short, the futility of control. For this reason, daoism teaches that the highest ideal of social action for the individual and the collective is wuwei or non-coercive action.21 Continuing with the metaphor of water breaking rocks, Laozi notes its implications: As nothingness [water] enters into that-which-has-no-opening, Hence, I am aware of the value of non-action [wuwei] And of the value of teaching with no-words. As for the value of non-action [non-coercion], Nothing in the world can match it (Laozi quoted in Thompson, 1998, p. 17). 3.6 Non-duality with duality One example comes from Zen Buddhism’s non-duality with duality. Non-duality refers to a condition whereby ‘subject and object are not opposed to each other, the one excluding the other’ (Hori, 2003, p. 15). Still, non-duality cannot eliminate duality; otherwise, non-duality itself would impose another kind of duality. Japanese Zen master Eihei Dōgen (1200–1253) identifies a trialectic of thinking to facilitate non-duality with duality: thinking (shiryō), not-thinking (fushiryō), and non-thinking (hishiryō). Transitioning from one to the other helps the mind journey from the conventional to the ineffable. Dōgen cites this example: An ancient Buddha said: ‘Mountains mountain, waters water.’ These words don’t say that ‘mountains’ are mountains, they say that mountains mountain. This being the case, we should study ‘mountains.’ When we investigate mountains in this way, mountains mountain (Dōgen quoted in Tanaka, 2013, p. 326). In other words, Dōgen exhorts us to remove the self when considering others, including that which may seem inanimate. When we think of mountains as ‘mountains’ only, then we are prioritizing ourselves – that is, our preconceived notion of a mountain – in our understanding of it. To not think about the mountain, in turn, would erase something that obviously exists. Both cases would violate the mountain. But when we perceive that a mountain mountains, we begin to relate to it on its own terms and in its own context. We are entering the realm of non-thinking. We begin to experience the mountain.22 In this way, we emancipate ourselves from preconceptions or other normalized ways of thinking. We begin to realize the world as it seeks/needs to be realized and our (minuscule) role in it. Buddhism’s five-rank protocol specifies a method for integrating non-duality with duality. The first two ranks – (i) recognizing ‘the relative within the absolute’ and (ii) ‘the absolute within the relative’ – caution, in effect, that appearances can be deceiving. Things may seem different on the surface (e.g., yin versus yang) but they share a common condition or essence underneath (e.g., yin-within-yang, yang-within-yin). Even so, the commonality between different things does not negate each entity’s unique qualities (e.g., yin is still the female principle; yang, the male). From these two ranks, the third one – (iii) ‘coming from within the absolute’ – becomes possible. Here, we begin to see and treat the two parts, relative (e.g., yin) and absolute (e.g., yang), as one (e.g., the dao). From this basis, compassion arises and enlightenment becomes a possibility. A fourth rank – (iv) ‘arriving at mutual integration’ – urges action based on this insight. ‘At this stage, the absolute and relative are integrated, but they’re still two things’ (Loori, 2009, p. xxvii). For this reason, we need a fifth rank – (v) ‘unity attained’ – to affirm ‘[t]here is no more duality. [The entity] is one thing – neither absolute nor relative, up nor down, profane nor holy, good nor bad, male nor female’ (Loori, 2009, p. xxvii). From thinking to not-thinking, we reach Dōgen’s non-thinking or wuwei. So with advaitic-daoist IR. Integrated into a post-Westphalian, post-dichotomous IR, it urges engagement with hegemonic conventions like ‘China’ versus the ‘West’ with the ‘ever-transient’ yet ‘perpetually connected’ nature of our world-of-worlds. Otherwise, where would systemic transformation come from? Buddhism’s five-rank protocol helps us excavate ‘the hidden connectedness across diversities’. We witness, accordingly, the making of our world-of-worlds by different actors and communities in their local and global contexts. More pointedly, an advantic-daoist IR adds one more element: spirituality. A critical reader could ask: What difference does it make? How does spirituality affect relations between China and the world? Let’s see below. 4 Advaitic-daoist IR: a pool of multiple worlds With water as metaphor, world politics becomes a pool of fluid, multiple worlds.23 Each world represents a node of epistemes that ripples outward, melting at the edges with other concentric spills of epistemes. These circulate communal modes of thinking and doing, being and relating that have evolved over millennia. Like water, multiple worlds must flow freely to stay vibrant; in IR terms, this means interacting with Difference and hybridizing with Others.24 Nonetheless, the nodes run deep: that is, multiple worlds do not lose their distinctive characteristics. These reflect and sustain legacies of history and tradition, sentiment and practice transmitted through language, memory, story-telling, and rituals. Indeed, in every ancient civilization, myth accounts for the origin of these nodes. Like raindrops from Heaven, they simply descend upon the pool one day. At the same time, these nodes do not stay the same forever. Past currents fill the present as much as present circulations wash the past. Our brief excursion into darsana, dharma, and ayurveda indicates a sense of how epistemic border-crossings effect transformations both communally and individually. In this pool of multiple worlds, ‘China’ qualifies as one node among many. Its size and weight may affect the current more than most but all nodes, no matter how big or small, form concentric circles that ripple outward to merge with others, no matter how far or near. As mentioned, the pool’s water comes from and reflects systemic dynamics beyond the pool: e.g., the sky and other environmental elements (like climate change) that could disturb the pool’s tranquility; ripples that evaporate over time (like stories and memories, prayers and traditions) only to return as new raindrops (like innovations, trends, and revolutionary developments); and other, unforeseen events (like inter-galactic contact). Sameness (globalities) and difference (localities) thus co-exist, co-penetrate, and co-produce. The very multiplicity of nodes, ripples, and circulations in the pool of multiple worlds ensures a mutual balancing that evens the flow – if left alone as wuwei advises. With dynamic forces at play, water can stay fresh and vital; otherwise, stagnant water like epistemic violence/epistemicide can spread life-threatening disease (e.g., ecological disaster, economic depression, ceaseless warfare) through mosquitoes (e.g., corrupt bureaucracies, predatory capitalism) or some other vermin. Still, one centripetal force applies: the heart. How else could we awaken wisdom and enact selfless compassion? In Chinese medicine (zhongyi), the heart organ ‘rules’ the body25; in ayurveda, as noted, the heart chakra alone connects the lower three vortices of physical health with the upper three of spiritual well-being. The entire system hinges on the heart. The critical reader may interject: Where lies the heart or spirituality in water? Here, I return to Laozi’s respect for water. Daoism treats water as if it has volition. That is, water’s transformative qualities (‘meekest in the world’/‘strongest in the world’) come from an inherent integrity and agency (‘benefits everything’, ‘dwell in places loathed by the crowd’). For this reason, water not only reflects but also enables the dao. Like the human body, our world-of-worlds encases a multitude of life-forces operating in dynamic tension. The deepest, most concrete chakras of safety, sexuality, and nourishment can rise to the higher, more abstract ones of creativity, intuition, and cosmic consciousness, just as the upper chakras can reach down into the lower ones. Indeed, if the principle of wuwei presides, each chakra flows naturally and organically into the other, stabilizing and strengthening the whole. What does this mean in terms of real-world policies and strategies? Let us consider the implications of daoist water, ayurvedic chakras, yin/yang trialectics, advaita connectedness, and Buddhist duality with non-duality for understanding ‘China’s rise’. 4.1 China’s rise re-appraised As a thought experiment, let us designate ‘China’ as yin and the ‘West’ as yang. (The specific designation doesn’t matter since the process remains the same.) With daoist water as metaphor, we see that the initial dichotomy of ‘China’ and the ‘West’ as two fixed binaries cannot hold; instead, each principal flows into the other in all ways and at all levels, ranging from the ‘micro’ to the ‘macro’. A trialectical effect takes place, highlighting a heterotopic-third domain that connects the principals while creating a new hybrid. Zen Buddhism’s five-rank protocol shows how: The first two ranks recognize that a China-yin exists within a West-yang as much as a West-yang exists in a China-yin. One prominent example comes from immigrant communities in both places. For now, let us date these to the 19th-century: say, the Chinese diaspora in the West and Western missionaries/merchants/expatriates in China. Each group may not only assimilate into its new environment but both also retain their distinctive features. Here, we begin to break down the nationalistic confines of the Westphalian state to recognize the transnational communities that make world politics. These include neighboring sites like Southeast Asia that also have a longstanding Chinese diaspora and, similarly, British colonial ‘ex-pats’ in South and Southeast Asia. In this way, we unlock the Westphalian trap of prioritizing powerful ‘Great Gamers’ to the exclusion and at the expense of the rest of the planet. Breaking this colonial bondage enables us to pay attention to crucial connections with and across the global South. ‘Epistemic violence’ and ‘epistemicide’ begin to dissipate. The third rank posits that the two principals, China-yin and West-yang, can come together. Communication becomes key. Not only would the two communities have the most at stake to engage with each other directly but also with compassion. Elsewhere (Ling and Pinheiro, forthcoming), we develop a model of dialogue called Creative Listening and Speaking (CLS). It mandates listening with the courage to speak and speaking with the humility to listen; otherwise, neither listening nor speaking alone could dismantle hegemony. Again, commonalities surge forward, transforming pre-existing conflicts and contra`dictions into a trialectical heterotopia.26 The fourth rank urges action based on this insight. We do not need to list here specific policies and/or strategies. The two principals’ internal entwinements (yin-within-yang, yang-within-yin) can guide action based on the imaginations and interests of the communities themselves and in their own context rather than anything an outsider or lofty principles could provide. The fourth rank underscores, also, the value and relevance of these transnational communities for the state. They have the expertise in language, cultural knowledge, and assimilative experiences to help the state transcend hackneyed dichotomies like ‘China’ versus the ‘West’. The fifth rank affirms ‘unity attained’. Perhaps a ceremonious event may suffice but it performs a necessary function to declare ‘there is no more duality’. The event, moreover, will need to resonate contextually to attain its full meaning; otherwise, community members will (rightfully) regard it as a cynical move to mask hegemony in ‘friendlier, gentler’ guise.27 Water as metaphor offers innovative strategies for inter-state conflict as well. For instance, an ayurvedic lens on China’s regional conflicts would attribute these to a fixation with the lower chakras only, thereby forcing hostilities due to a classic (in)security dilemma. Each state seeks to protect or enhance its own security (safety) by making hypermasculine-militaristic poses (sexuality) that spiral everyone’s sense of insecurity. Meanwhile, the population’s ability to feed itself (nourishment) suffers, as national security consumes more and more resources, even as the state claims to protect all aspects of the supposed ‘heartland’. However, the upper chakras can guide the lower ones to reach a healthier, happier, more sustainable outcome. The fifth chakra of creativity, for example, could inspire use of the arts and humanities to broaden, not to mention deepen, sovereign relations among peoples in both states (Ling and Nakamura, 2017). The governments and societies of China and Japan could re-appreciate what each has meant to the other from ancient times to ‘catch-up’ modernity (Ling, 2016b). With two millennia of history together, China and Japan cannot – should not – risk everything on the past 200 years. The region, furthermore, abounds with strategies for conflict resolution that pre-date Westphalia (Chong, 2012). Why not draw on these precedents? The highest chakras help these strategies reach fruition. With intuition and cosmic consciousness, we gain a sense of ‘awakened wisdom and selfless compassion’. We have a reason, method, and ideal to dissolve Westphalia’s deadly deadlock of narrow, nationalistic interests set in immutable, binary oppositions. From this basis, world politics no longer divides into Self-aggrandizing, hypermasculinized ‘Great Gamers’ versus invisibilized, feminized ‘small fry’. From ‘epistemic violence’ and/or ‘epistemicide’, world politics can embark, instead, on engagement, learning, and mutuality: that is, Interbeing. 5 Conclusion: what’s next? Former colonies rightfully, joyfully celebrated their independence after World War II – only to discover the scourge of neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism in the decades following. Some contend that current levels of exploitation by the global North over the global South compares with, if not supersedes, colonial times (Amin, 2004; Foster and McChesney, 2012; Smith, 2015). Still, the situation is not all dire. Transformation is underway. Structurally, ‘emerging economies’ like the BRICS (Brazil–Russia–India–China–South Africa) are forging economic alliances; similar moves like BCIM (Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar) are occurring regionally (Lama 2016). Intellectually, subaltern scholars are engaging in ‘epistemic disobedience’ (Mignolo, 2009) to forge newfound solidarities within and across the global South (Ling and Pinheiro, forthcoming). IR scholars need to recognize, also, that the field does not – cannot – represent all intellectual activity in ‘China’ or ‘India’ or anywhere else outside the West. Plenty of new thinking percolates in other areas.28 IR scholars need to broaden their references. To break out of Westphalia’s deadly deadlock, however, we need spiritual emancipation, not just analytical, political, or ethical. A water-like epistemic compassion will help us experience Others directly, like Dōgen’s mountains, rather than imposing our assumptions about who and what they are. Accepting non-duality with duality begins the process of systemically-accommodating advaita’s ‘transience’ and ‘connectedness’ and the dao’s yin-within-yang, yang-within-yin. The bodhisattva Guanyin’s ‘thousand arms and eyes’, like darsana, dharma, and ayurveda, become more than metaphors. They shine the light for action. A trialectical-third of spiritual emancipation emerges. It gives us new goals, desires, and voices to evolve global affairs. A single, hegemonic node for Great Gamers will find itself isolated and eventually disappearing.29 Instead, multiple nodes will circulate and merge vibrantly in the pool of world politics. It is the mix that makes our world-of-worlds. The rest of the world thus no longer serves as a mere afterthought, at best, or a playground for the powerful, at worst. All can participate in their own way and on their own terms. IR’s blinkers finally fall off. With philosophies like advaita and daoism, augmented by methods like Zen Buddhism’s five-rank protocol, epistemic compassion opens circulations of ‘abundance’ and a ‘richness of being’ (Feyerabend, 1999) previously denied in Westphalian IR. Ancient sources of wisdom like darsana, dharma, ayurveda, and zhongyi flow with ontological parity to currents of contemporary, Western epistemes. After all, the dao reminds us, the ‘meekest’ waves of creativity can penetrate the ‘strongest’ rocks of hegemonic complicity and arrogance. Interbeing comes into sight: ‘you are in me as I am in you’. We paddle eagerly towards its shore. Footnotes 1 The Norton Anthology of World Religions dates the epic as an oral tradition to ‘as early as 900 BCE…the Mahabharata did not reach something like its present form until between 300 BCE and 300 CE’ (Miles, 2015, p. 140). 2 Convention cites the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) as the propagator of our contemporary inter-state system. Many today contest this origin myth (Carvalho et.al., 2011). 3 Utilitarians cross epistemic borders also but for ‘use’ only and not to reflect. Consequently, utilitarians resist any notion of transformation due to new knowledge, whereas epistemic compassion begins with it as a premise. Note, for example, the godfather of utilitarianism: Sir Francis Bacon. He characterized the Bensalemites in his utopian novel, New Atlantis (1627), as remaining ‘the virgin of the world’ despite actively scouring the world for knowledge. 4 Nishida Kitaro, leading philosopher of the Kyoto School in the 1930s, first coined the term sekaiteki sekai which Goto-Jones (2005) translates as ‘world of worlds’. But I prefer Arisaka’s (1996) translation of the term as ‘world historical formation’ since Nishida envelops his multiple worlds within a larger ‘bubble’ of Western modernity. In contrast, my conception of world-of-worlds emanates from the interactions and hybrid legacies of multiple worlds. 5 Because I’m drawing on advaita and daoism as epistemological traditions – that is, a way of thinking – I’m not treating them as historical products. If we were to historicize all concepts, then Christianity and especially the Protestant Ethic, would have lost any epistemological import long ago. The conquistadores hailed Christian salvation while enslaving, demonizing, and killing indigenous peoples en masse in the ‘New World’. IR as a field would have never continued the conceptual and methodological legacies left by racist–sexist theorists like Hobbes, Hegel, Kant, Weber, and Locke, just to name a few. Yet, conventional social science remains entrenched in Protestant dichotomies like ‘parsimony vs abundance’, ‘science vs superstition’, and ‘civilization vs barbarism’. Furthermore, philosophies of peace and prosperity do not necessarily arise from actual conditions of peace and prosperity; more typically, the former results from a lack of the latter. 6 Unlike Confucians, Daoists especially disdained any external sources of control like the state (Ames, 1998). 7 A traditional gown for men starting from China’s Republican period, it consists of a long-sleeved, ankle-length tunic with mandarin collar and side slits worn over pants. The robe typically comes in blue silk with a white lining. A thicker version is worn in winter; a thinner one in summer. 8 Even postcolonial theorists tend to treat ‘gods and spirits’ as belief only, rather than an integral element of ontology/epistemology (Vasilaki, 2012). 9 The Andean cosmovision also shares vital commonalities with Daoist yin/yang theory. See Ling and Pinheiro, (forthcoming). 10 Darsana means a perspective, viewpoint, or a way of seeing eternal and philosophical truths; accordingly, it refers to a body, system, or school of philosophy. Six such darsanas pertain: namely sāṅkhya, yoga, nyāya, vaiśeṣika, mīmāṃsā, and vedānta. Advaita philosophy itself, then, is a particular form of darsana. See Miles (2015). 11 Dharma refers to righteousness; merit; religious duty; religion; law; a goal of life (purushartha). Literally, it means ‘what holds together’. Dharma thus constitutes the basis of all order, whether social or moral. All the different schools of philosophy engage with the essence of dharma and the relevance or not of karmakaand or dharmic rituals. See Miles (2015). 12 The Charaka Samhita defines ayurveda as ‘that which deals with good, bad, happy, and unhappy life, its promoters and non-promoters, measurement and nature’ (Van Loon, 2003, p. 13). 13 The dharmic tradition has contributed to the caste system in South Asia but we cannot ignore the role of colonial powers in appropriating and reifying brahmanic texts to rationalize their own management of the ‘natives’ (Inden, 1986; Dirks, 2001; Doniger, 2009). There is a famous story, for example, of Shankara bowing to a Chandala (low caste) in Kashi and treating him like a guru. See (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ewta7YJCmyw). Similarly, Shankara acknowledges the wisdom that women possess at various points. Only now are these texts being de-colonized. 14 A city in the Gujarat state of India. 15 Salguero (2014) documents the difficulties of translating Buddhist/ayurvedic medicine to medieval China. However, he focuses on the initial phase and not what happens after thousands of years of interaction. For the latter, see Tan and Yinzeng (2005) and Tan (2015). 16 In Chinese, the term for ‘dialectics’ and ‘trialectics’ is the same: bian (to debate) zheng (evidence) fa (law or rule). Contrary to the English term ‘dialectics’, which indicates a party of two, the Chinese term does not indicate how many parties are involved. It signals, instead, the process of change and continuity, debate and discourse with evidence. 17 If we replace the abstractions of yin and yang with their substantive principles, femaleness, and maleness respectively, then their internal entwinements refer to the female-within-male and the male-within-female. In this sense, yin/yang theory resonates with contemporary queer theory (Ling, 2016c). 18 In contrast, Hegel’s dialectic never recognized the master in the slave nor the slave in the master. His ‘sublation’, moreover, follows after their interaction rather than in simultaneous action with it. See Brincat and Ling (2014). 19 The Book of Changes (Yijing, c. 12 BCE) refers to this concept as tongbian or ‘continuity through change’. Tong indicates passing through doors that open and shut; bian, the changes that accrue during this journey. ‘It is between the door’s opening and being shut, or between a correlated pairing, that continuity through change takes place…[I]n turn, interaction itself is an embodiment of correlativity and continuity’ (Tian, 2005, p. 23). 20 Laozi (‘Old Master’) is the mythical founder of Daoism. He is variously identified as someone who lived in the 6th-century BCE or serves as a composite of historical figures from 5–4th centuries BCE. 21 Confucians and Legalists have also drawn on the Daoist concept of wuwei. Consequently, the tradition reflects an amalgamation of discourses and debates, policies, and strategies. The Huainanzi (139 BCE) provides an exemplary document in this case. See Ames (1983). 22 Experience can take one or both forms: (i) Direct Experience 1, whereby the novice receives first-hand knowledge of an integrated way of being, and (ii) Experience 2, whereby the novice attains pure consciousness. The latter is defined as ‘direct apprehension without having any intellectual or conceptual activity’ (Hori, 2003, p. 10). The act of falling in love, and all its accompanying sensations, approximate what Zen Buddhism means by Experiences 1 and 2. 23 Also drawing on yin/yang theory, Qin YaQin (2010, 2011, 2016) characterizes world politics as a ‘lake’. I prefer the term ‘pool’ since it does not eternalize world politics as part of a natural eco-system; rather, it includes both natural and artificial constructs. 24 Contemporary life adds a powerful source of circulation for multiple words: the media. These also pass on longstanding, collective narratives through films, television dramas, anime, graphic novels, music, and the like. Nonetheless, global media merely formalize what multiple worlds already do: that is, they forge a common world through interactions with one another. 25 The canonical source of Chinese medicine states: ‘[I]f the ruler [the heart] is enlightened, his subjects are in peace. To nourish one’s life on the basis of these results in longevity’ (Huangdi Neijing Suwen quoted in Unschuld and Tessenow, 2011, p. 155). 26 Lederach (2005) provides examples of such transformative processes in conflict resolution. He does not draw on Buddhism’s five-rank protocol; nonetheless, he comes close. We need a new ‘moral imagination’, he writes, that ‘imagine ourselves in a web of relationships that includes our enemies; the ability to sustain a paradoxical curiosity that embraces complexity without reliance on dualistic polarity; the fundamental belief in and pursuit of the creative act; and the acceptance of the inherent risk of stepping into the mystery of the unknown that lies beyond the far too familiar landscape of violence’ (Lederach, 2005, p. 5). 27 For example, Koreans rarely take seriously Japanese ‘apologies’ for the latter’s annexation of the peninsula from 1910 to 1945. The former see the latter as cynical political moves to appease domestic factional politics rather than an expression of sincere apology to Koreans (Hong, 2016). 28 See, for example, the journal Inter-Asia Cultural Studies (http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/riac20/current). 29 Note, for example, the European Union’s decision to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) even without the United States, thereby motivating President Donald J. Trump to clarify at the World Economic Forum in Davos that ‘America First’ does not mean ‘America Alone’ (Hirano, 2018). Acknowledgments An earlier version of this paper was presented at the conference “Theorising China's Rise in/beyond International Relations” at Deakin University, 31 March–1 April 2016. I am grateful to the participants of this conference for their comments in improving this paper; and I thank, especially, Chengxin Pan and Emilian Kavalski for inviting me to Melbourne. 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