A Sticky View
by Scott Bradley
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.
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