by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
Goallessness is an admirable and necessary attribute in the Daoist vision of freedom. Which does not mean, of course, that we are to be goalless. It means that we have the kind of detachment from our goals which denies them the substantiality by which they would otherwise rob of us of immediacy and spontaneity. This moment is not a means to an end, but uniquely special in itself. Living here and now, one does not sacrifice the moment to the future. One may peel potatoes to have a dinner, but while peeling potatoes, that is what one does — and enjoys.
All this is but a preamble to justify my admission that I have a goal: I would like to die happy. And if I should have the opportunity to linger at death's door, knowing it is immanent, then I would like to die well. At that time, I would like to be able to look back and say, I may have made a mess of a lot of it, but here at the end, I am happy to live and happy to die.
The immediacy of that future moment is, of course, contingent upon the immediacy of this moment now. The present is not expended on behalf of the future. The end is the means.
Ever I have said that, for all this talk of transcendence and mystical rapture, the single normative value that I can espouse is greater happiness. Ultimately, all is as it is, and I follow the natural inclination of my heart and the very contingencies of my existence in affirming in trust that all is well. There is no salvation on offer, because no salvation is required. The value of 'awakening' is that it enhances the quality of one's life. Nothing more.
No doubt there is a name for this philosophical point of view. I don't know what it is, nor do I really care. Such names, if not intended to neuter and negate, effectively do so just the same. The way to understand anything of this nature is to experience it. But this requires that one lay aside the generalizing understanding of 'reason' and accept that one does not 'know'. Chaos. The 'ten thousand things' are, each one, right in themselves. Impenetrable mystery. The innumerable 'hoots, groans and growls' of the trees in the forest are, each one, a legitimate expression of the wind of Reality. Chaos. It cannot be contained.
I won't attempt to define happiness. What purpose would it serve? Happiness is not found in the pursuit of happiness, and a definition would but encourage the chase. Like love, you know it when it happens to you.
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.