Saturday, September 17, 2011

Clearly II

Clearly II
by Scott Bradley

"Clearly, clearly, the Tao is known. It is just this. Why don't you pass through?”
— Pai-yun

I find these words so powerful, I thought it best in first sharing them to let them stand on their own. You might want to stop here and let them continue to do so.

We know that we cannot know Tao. And yet, if all that is is the expression of Tao, then we know Tao in what is. It is my sense that any belief that has the world as of secondary importance because it is illusory or unreal, is dualistic and thus obstructs the 'knowing' of Tao and our 'passing through'. This is not to say that the world is not illusory or unreal; perhaps it is. But if it is, then the illusory and unreal is also Tao. This is the realization that maya is nirvana.

If life is a dream, then this dream is Tao.

"It is just this." I suspect that to realize this to one's very core is all that is required. It begins as words. It ends as experience.

"This" is all phenomena — Nature — but its most immediate reference is to our subjective experience. It is not an invitation to frolic in and commune with Nature, though that's fun, too. It is an invitation to understand that our subjective experience is Tao. "It is just this." It is already true of us. It is true of you at this moment — the thoughts you now think, the feelings you now feel.

"Why don't you pass through?" Here's the gate. Enter. What hinders you?

"I" as fixed, egoic identity cannot pass through the gate. If I wish to retain this identity, I will not realize unity.

Yet, we are it, you are it, I am it. A fixed, egoic identity, may be an illusory and limiting phenomenon, but it is also Tao. There is no need for denial. No dragon need be slain. Reality need not be cut asunder. Realize that this egoic self is Tao and you have passed through. But wait, where did "I" go?

“Every enslavement is also an ennobling.” (Zhuangzi, 2:41; B. Ziporyn)

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


  1. I would like more detail and elucidation on Pai-yun (Bai Yun? White Cloud? Paiyun, "cloud dispersing" as at Huangshan?) and the quote. It sounds like a reference (perhaps in repudiation?) to the "mysterious pass" of internal alchemy, although what Zen masters say about that I don't know. Mixing up Taoism and Zen can be confusing sometimes.

  2. This is a little parallel to the ambiguity in Jesus' comment that "The kingdom of God is at hand."

  3. It is a direct statement, drawing you as you read it right to where you are, clutter drops away and no more need be said.

    You do not even enter the world as I, I is brought about as you identify other. You were free, then you were born free, will also die free and for those who see the simplicity of it they will live free.

    Quotes such as that are very powerful.

  4. @Ta-Wan--I understand that, but I'm not all that impressed with the "power" of the quote. Actually I was asking an academic sort of question. Who is Pai-yun and why should I pay attention to him? I'm curious about the context of the statement.


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