Wednesday, July 27, 2011

This Is It

This Is It
by Scott Bradley


"For the Buddha, salvation is attained...as we transcend creatureliness and contingency....One must have the courage, then, to renounce contingency....There is no room for a non-God in God." — Raimundo Panikkar (The Silence of God)

Before I comment on this quote I should note that I have seriously redacted it, and have removed lengthy explanatory disclaimers (one does not "attain" anything, for example). Nevertheless, I think it fairly presents Panikkar's thesis.

For me, this is not it, for the simple reason that it is not this. This is it. This is reality as we are and as we experience it, which is to say, a world of pure contingency. Contingency is flux and temporality. It is being with a lower case 'b', being that has no apparent grounding in itself. And I would maintain that, at least for me, this is to be affirmed, loved, and lived. There is no salvation required, for this is 'good'. And transcendence is not an escape from this, but within it. "This is it!" Zhouzi exclaims while working in his garden. It is nowhere else. “There is no second moon.”

To "there is no room for a non-God in God" I would reply with Zhuangzi's "not-one is also One". There is nothing that is not "God" — there is no non-God. (I prefer not to speak of God, of course, and only do so here because Panikkar does, despite having already demonstrated that, in Buddhism, there is no God of which we can speak).

As I have said before, for Panikkar and Buddhism, this makes me a pantheist, one of the "sixty-four heresies". Words and boxes, that don't really matter all that much. "Right view", one of the principle requirements for the attainment of the Buddhist salvation, is, in my opinion, 'wrong view', which, of course, is also 'wrong view', which....

So, I disagree. And this does make a significant difference in the way I go about seeking my transcendence, but, in the end, it is not really about how we understand Reality, since we never begin to understand it at all. What matters is whether it "works" for us, and I do not doubt that it works for many Buddhists.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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