An Apology...Sort Of
by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
In a previous post (which has not yet been posted at this writing) I said that Robert Aitken "wandered in a world of religious dualism and Buddha-delusion." This was a bit of a counter-punch to his dismissal of a kind of wandering of which he disapproved, the kind of wandering with which I resonate. Punch and counter-punch is not indicative of the transcendence which I advocate here, and so I apologize for engaging in the same.
But....An apology which appends itself with "but" tends, in the end, to be no apology at all. But I mean this "but" as only a way of explaining that for which I apologize.
I have a negative visceral reaction to a great deal of Aitken's writing. To me, it reeks of religious Zen. "Reeks" is a most appropriate word here, because it suggests a quality beyond intellection. I frequently encounter this reek — it is everywhere — and wish to convey it in a post, yet find myself unable to articulate it. It's not really a disagreement about content; it's more a question of...tone.
There is something very authentic about Zen. As I have said before, this authenticity is most reflected in its self-immolating character. It must constantly self-destruct to be true Zen. Only no-Zen is truly Zen. It must constantly wipe away its tracks, its traces.
Aitken says this, as well. Yet, his "tone" is such that I do not feel he actually has done so. He is fixated on the 'skillful means' of his particular school. Hence the religious reek. I never get the sense of the 'beyond' of it all.
But there is more. He frequently tosses out statements which rely more on an innuendo of spiritual depth, than convey that depth. Many of his words seem empty; they point nowhere. For me, they ring as hollow as the preacher's "the Lord spoke to me this morning..."
Nevertheless, the real issue here isn't him; it's me. And it is this for which I apologize. My reaction to Aitken is more about me than about him. This visceral reaction of which I spoke above is an egoic and emotional one. He disappoints me. He doesn't say what I want him to. Things are not the way I want them to be.
Perhaps I can illustrate this by explaining why I don't do politics here. Trust me, I have very strong political opinions. But these are all rooted in my own emotional mess. Darth Chaney may be evil, but my despising him has more to do with my own sense of being wronged by...circumstances...than it does about him.
My opinions are an expression of a great web of emotional bondage and the 'project' is to transcend this web.
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.