Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Sticky View

A Sticky View
by Scott Bradley

Speaking of the Zen experience, Yuanwu says, "Although this is purely the ground of noumenon [mind], there is still nothing to grasp. If you grasp it, it becomes a sticky view. Therefore it is said, 'The Tao is mindless of union with humanity; when people are unminding, they unite with Tao.' How could anyone show off and claim to have attained Zen?" (The Essence of Zen; Cleary)

There is, of course, some sticky stuff already clinging to these words. I would prefer to speak of 'the experience' rather than 'the Zen experience'; Zen does not have a monopoly on transcendent experience, and that experience is not Zen. Likewise, when we say 'the Tao' it would seem to suggest some entity, some thing. Tao is not an 'other' that we can discuss it. We are it, though we cannot see it, anymore than an eye can see itself.

Yet, ultimately, the stickiness is not on the words but in us. "If you grasp it, it becomes a sticky view." We must learn to use words and ideas as mere pointers, and nothing more. And that to which they point is ungraspable; if we understand anything of it, we have not realized it.

"The Tao is mindless of union with humanity." It does not grasp us. We cannot grasp It. This same quality in us, this "uminding" is the subjective uniting with Tao. I say 'subjective' because this uniting is the realization in experience of what already is so. Always, subjective union with Tao is to be Tao-ish.

Tao-ishness (te, as I take it) precludes even an inking of pridefulness; one cannot "attain" it; there is nothing to attain and no one to attain it.

Similarly, out here in un-Tao-ish land, the surest sign of un-Tao-ishness is the pointing out and dwelling on the un-Tao-ishness of others.

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


  1. When one says, "the surest sign of un-Tao-ishness is the pointing out and dwelling on the un-Tao-ishness of others", isn't one saying this statement guilty of the same? The identifying of what is un-Tao-ish in others that point out the un-Taoish in others? Again, I can't help but see inconsistencies. And when inconsistencies are pointed out the inadequacy of words take the blame instead of honest meditative introspection taking place. And isn't this statement similar to, "Thou Shall Not" point out the un-Taoish in others thus declaring it as being a bad? Where is the consistency of staying on the path that there is not a Good and Bad? Is it possible that these cherished sacred principals of belief need to be scrutinized a bit? Or are we holding onto these enshrined creeds so highly that it is impossible to put them under a nonbias magnifying glass?

  2. I find it interesting that this critical line of questioning on several of Scott's posts has come from someone who goes under the nebulous moniker of "anonymous." While it certainly is true that we allow anonymous comments on this blog, I feel I must ask "anonymous," why are you hiding who you are?

    Scott and I "sign" all of our posts. We aren't hiding behind facades. We let it all hang out there -- the good, bad and indifferent.

    Are you so insecure that you're not willing to do the same?

  3. The anonymous commenter here is not seeing these posts as they are meant to be as they are too busy lost in the words and the traps of this and that.

    I'd guess that anonymous is from a Christian background and is only just being set free.

    You'll get there anonymous, just stop resisting.

  4. My name is Shawn Tedrow. It appears that I triggered something within you Trey. What do you think that might be? You appear to be defensive. Why do you care if I signed up as anonymous or not? I don't get it. In regards to Ta-Wan's comment, are you kidding me?

  5. That's interesting, Shawn. Asking someone to identify themselves is being defensive?

    Does that mean that every time I ask a question that I'm being defensive too?

  6. Dear Trey,

    It is not that you just asked for my name. It was the undercurrent accusatory energy within the words. You may have heard that a good defense is a good offense? Who knows? Maybe I am being a little over sensitive.



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