The Great Openness
by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
The Great Openness is a descriptive 'name' for the Ultimate found in the Zhuangzi. Or, perhaps, I should say a name for an experience of an inkling of the Ultimate. No 'name', no objective content, can be given to that of which we have-not-a-clue. We can discuss It only in the terms of our experience, and that, of course, is not really content-full at all. It is about us, not It.
Whoever wrote these words, The Great Openness, experienced something. What was it?
There are various expressions of openness. One can be cognitively open to the ideas of others, open-minded. One can be open to all that one encounters, 'following along with things', accepting them with equanimity. But this last, I would suggest, requires that one experience a deeper and more fundamental openness, a mystical openness.
To understand openness we need to understand closedness. What is it in me that limits and closes me off? The egoic-identity, of course. That which separates me from the other-than-me also closes me off from a full experience of that 'other'. Mystical openness is the transcendence of the egoic-identity which enables an experience of Unity, Openness with a capital "O".
I believe that you could, if you wished, experience that Openness at this very moment. This does not mean that you will have experienced the Ultimate, or have permanently transcended your ego-identity, though I suppose it is possible (in which case, "I beg to be your disciple.") It would simply mean that you would have momentarily experienced something more of what it means to be you — and not you.
But being an egoic-identity is also you, and me, and human beings in general, and thus, we should be careful not to demonize the ego. It all begins with acceptance, or should I say, openness. If we are capable of a 'higher' expression of our humanity, then let us look at our egoic-selves as a seedling, not a weed.
The Great Openness is also an experience which is a sense of the Ultimate. Passively, Boundless. Actively, All-Embracing. "Ever giving forth, yet never empty." Yet ever-empty of cognitive content. It is a 'place' where, free of a fixed-identity, one is free to wander.
You can check out Scott's writings on Zhuangzi here.